The Impact of Negative Body Image on Sexual Confidence and Desire.

Sep 9, 2023

In Bed: The Headache of Negative Body Image for Women


In bed, having a negative body image can be a real headache – affecting a woman’s arousal, self confidence, and pride. When an individual’s perception of their body is negative, it can have a profound effect on how they feel about their bodies and how easily they become aroused. 


Even men can feel self-conscious about their bodies, but it is not nearly as likely to interfere with their sexual function as it is to affect women. Having a negative body image is a huge player in the disruption of sexual enjoyment, desire, and responsiveness for women.

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How Negative Body Image Affects Women’s Sexual Lives


When a woman has body image issues, these can affect their sexual lives in two ways – by affecting what they think of themselves, and shaping what they believe their partners think of them.


Her self-perception 


When a woman has low sexual self-esteem, it can cause her to choose to avoid sexual activity, especially if she feels that her body is unattractive. A disruption in one area of the sexual cycle often leads to disruptions in other areas – desire, arousal, and orgasm. Think about it, if you are avoiding sex, you won’t experience any orgasms at all!


In other words, the more critical she feels about her body, the more anxious she will feel about being seen and touched by her partner – and the less likely she will be to lose herself in the moment and become aroused. She’ll solely be focused on trying to hide the parts of her body she is concerned about. The strongest predictor of orgasm troubles are a woman’s specific concerns about her body, like her weight or body parts. Perhaps she’s worried about her butt, sagging skin, stretch marks, or even the sounds her body makes.

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Her perception of how others see her


When a woman believes that her partner (or potential partners) finds her attractive, her sexual function will be higher. Perception is reality – so having confidence allows for more satisfactory sexual experiences. However, when she believes, no matter what the truth is, that others view her body negatively, her desire and ability to get aroused will be disrupted. She will not feel the desire to be seen naked or to have sex at all.


For example, for many women, during menopause, hormones are part of the explanation for a woman’s loss of libido, but her sense of desirability may also play a large role. Older women often complain that men do not look at them the way they used to.  This often results in a lower libido due to a lack of perception of attraction. Their subjective turn-on is based on that feeling of being wanted and desired. Women experience stronger orgasms by feeling desired by their partners.

Overcoming Body Image Issues for a Fulfilling Sex Life


Here are some ways you can deal with body image issues and get back on track sexually:

You should believe your partner! Men often complain that their partners are incredibly sexy but they reject them because their partner doesn’t think the same about her body. If your partner is telling you that you’re hot and he desires you, you should trust that he is telling you the truth. Trust also plays a crucial role in sex!


That negative self-talk should be nipped in the bud before and during sex. Learn how to recognize when the critical voice inside you is popping out when you are anticipating sexual moments. It is important to remind yourself that you have the right to sexual pleasure, and that sex will bring more closeness and intimacy between you and your partner. When you pull away from your partner over silly things like your own mind, you damage the bond that you and your partner have. 

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Boosting Sexual Confidence: Tips for Women with Body Image Concerns


Try to take time to practice mindfulness every day. Being in the state of mindfulness is being in one of non-judgment. Every day for a few minutes, practice being in the now; observe the thoughts come up in your mind without accepting them as the truth. Allow the feeling or thought to reside in your mind without judging it, and really process it. Be curious about it! It is only through questioning our thoughts and feelings that we realize they are only thoughts and feelings, and not tangible realities.


Do some Kegels! By practicing doing your Kegels, you can distract your mind from its negative wandering. In many cases, the difficulty involved in squeezing your pelvic floor is sufficient to keep your mind from wandering to those negative places.


Keep your breathing in mind. Feel your own breathing during sex. Deeply inhale and exhale. Think about that sensation rather than the negative thoughts for a moment or two. You can learn to practice this through daily meditation to help you cope with stressful situations.


Your partner should be your focus. You should pay attention to the way your body turns on your partner’s body. Notice how he becomes increasingly aroused as he is with you, and how excited he is to be with you. Don’t ignore the physical evidence that he does find you attractive! If you are with a man with ED, he may also express his excitement through bodily tension or words.


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