Chris had been seeing a talk therapist for a few sessions.  It was useful, but not much was changing in the bedroom.  Chris has been married for 29 years and has two children.  He and his partner got along ok, except when it came to sex.  “My sex life is dying and I really don’t know what to do”, he told me over zoom.   Chris had tried to relax, distract himself or use new techniques to pleasure his partner.   But essentially sex continued to be a struggle.  In his words, he had “performance anxiety” and was rapidly losing confidence.   Erection would sometimes happen, sometimes not.  He would often feel anxious and was not really present to his partner.   He felt pressured, inadequate and fearful and spent a lot of time stuck in his head.  His partner was not hugely interested in sex and trying to find her own way with sensuality after menopause.    Chris had nearly given up hope.  I was his last option.    Fortunately for both Chris and his wife, his courage to reach out initiated a process of change and finding the information and practical support most of us have never been given in order to have great sex.


When sex is challenging – what do I do?  

For most people, challenges and struggles around sex are hard to talk about.

We often find these conversations with those we love difficult – let alone sharing our concerns with anyone else.

Shame and taboo silence us and we feel inadequate and defeated.

Trauma keeps us stuck and often overwhelmed.

Our bodies change and the sex of our youth no longer fits.

Most people are not talking about these things. 

Truth is though, the vast majority of us at some point in time, are faced with sexual or intimacy challenges.

Aging alone, invites us into change. 

Not to mention the impacts of being together for decades, stress of everyday life, surgeries and menopause.

Many things impact our experiences of sex and pleasure.

Most of which are unavoidable parts of life.

So, if we are not talking or reaching out, what are we doing instead?

Many people avoid the topic and hope it all just goes away.

Others become anxious, overwhelmed or ping pong between the two.

We pathologise and blame ourselves.

We project our pain and despair onto others.

We shut up and shut down, and before we know it, years have passed and nothing feels any better.

In fact, it often feels worse.

Round and round we go.

We might buy a self-help book, listen to a podcast or two, buy a new sex toy.

And yet, no lasting change emerges.

So where do we begin if we want to change our experiences?

Here are four key strategies I know work.

  1. Small progressive steps

The pathway to healing and great sex is to learn to take small steps.   Generally speaking, we are becoming more and more impatience.  We want it and we want it now!  We want to go to the end game before taking the time to properly begin.   No wonder it all feels too much!  It’s almost like, humans have one speed…  Or maybe two – on or off.    We often dive in the deep end or stay stuck in the shallows.

Beginning to change our experiences starts with learning to slow down and take small progressive steps.   Allowing pauses between them and then taking the next small step.

Before we know it, we have made ground.  One manageable step at a time.

Small progressive steps can be many things.   They might be a conversation with a friend, googling information or practitioners or reaching out for a intro call.  

In this process, it is important to keep moving one small step at a time.  This is a practice and also a great sexual skill.  Being patient, staying attentive and keep gently moving.  So essentially by doing this, change has already begun. 


  1. Get curious rather than fearful

Bessel van der Kolk says “once you approach your body with curiosity rather than fear, everything shifts.”   How wonderfully true!  Don’t believe it? Have a go and see.  It requires us to let go of our agenda and expectations, and simply stay present to what is – tracking and noticing what happens next.   How interesting! 

When we let go of the judgement and fear, and bring our attention to our bodies and the sensations within them, things start to shift and change.   Bringing curiosity to our experiences and bodies support us to notice, build awareness and begin to create change.  


  1. Learn to be with discomfort

Our capacity to notice and be with the edge of discomfort is often very minimal.   Instead, we flip into thoughts that are often unhelpful or click into old habits of self defeat. The slightest activation of something uncomfortable propels us in its opposite direction.   We avoid, change the subject, shut down and never stay long enough in places of uncertainty and discomfort to enact any chance of change.  

Unless we build our ability and willingness to get a little bit uncomfortable – nothing will ever change.   Learn to be clunky, to not know and feel slightly vulnerable.  This is not about biting off too much too soon and feeling overwhelmed.  It is about leaning in, noticing the edge and pausing there a moment.  Our ability to be present and allow some discomfort is directly related to our capacity to grow and change. 


  1. Take stock, notice and acknowledge what is working

Where do you feel confident and capable in your life?  What are the qualities and strengths you value about yourself, your partner and your relationships.   Starting from a place of resource is a really useful place to begin.  

In the overwhelm and stuckness, we often lose sight of what is actually working. 

Be willing to take it out of the bedroom and see where in your life you feel most like yourself – achieving. confident or simply good.

As you pay attention to what is working, notice your posture, where it sits inside of you and hang out there for a while.   Let it grow, breath it and begin from here.    


One thing I notice over and over again in my practice and my own life, is how those things that often feels insurmountable, melt away with good support, information and practices that rewired our bodies and pleasure.  

Many surprising gems come from the courage to meet our challenges.  

The things we often perceive as problems become gateways to healing and pleasure, we never thought was possible. 

Pleasure and connection are our birth rights.  Humans need them to thrive. 

It is never too late to begin a journey of healing and change.

In the words of Naeem Callaway, “sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life.  Tiptoe if you must, but take a step.”

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