“Ah, yikes, that doesn’t feel great.” “Slower, slower, slower.” Sound familiar? Don’t be embarrassed—you’re not the only one who’s had thoughts like these during sex. “We call them intrusive thoughts. We don’t want to have them, but they just come,” explains Megan Fleming, PhD, licensed clinical psychologist who practices marriage counseling and sex therapy in New York City. “What’s important is recognizing how to let go of the thought and refocus the attention on feeling sexy.”
Here are seven of the most common intrusive thoughts, with expert-backed strategies to silence them and bring sexy back.
“I wish he/she were a little better at this.”
If you’re feeling bored in the bedroom—which happens even to the happiest couples—speak up! “What we should be doing is turning ourselves on by helping our partner out,” she suggests. If you love the way your partner caresses your arms or strokes your hair, ask for more. Wish your partner would squeeze your booty more, and pay less attention to your breasts? Tell it like it is—he or she might even be turned on by your directness.
“It feels like the Sahara down there.”
Lack of lubrication is normal—once in a while. “It happens occasionally to everyone,” says Pari Ghodsi, MD, board certified OB/GYN in Los Angeles, and active Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. (She goes by Dr. Pari.) “But if it’s happening regularly, it’s not normal.” Many things can cause vaginal dryness, including stress, hormonal changes, and even medications you’re taking. Even if you don’t think you need lube, you may be surprised at how the extra slipperiness can spice things up. Try one of Health‘s top lubricant picks—and make an appointment with your doctor to try to pinpoint the underlying issue.
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“I have so much laundry to do. I hope this doesn’t take long.”
So little time, so much to do! It’s completely normal to be distracted by your to-do list when you’re trying to get sexy. “Don’t beat yourself up mentally for having these thoughts, but try not to let them run the show,” says Kat Van Kirk, PhD, licensed marriage and sex therapist. It may help to take the time you need to fully unwind when you get home. Pack your lunch and pick out your outfit for the following day, and spend some time relaxing (watch TV, have a glass of wine, catch up on reading) before you get into the sack. Then you’ll be able to really be present and enjoy sex.
“I hope I don’t say my ex’s name out loud.”
Unless you’re seriously hung up on your ex, there’s a low probability you’ll actually shout out his or her name. “This is a lot different than being hung up on an ex—it’s more about the fear of saying their name because of a past sexual experience that may have been the best for you,” says Fleming. But you have to take that thought off the table. Chances are that you’re probably just thinking worst-case scenario. “Remember, sex is a play space, a place for communication and expressing desires and longings,” says Fleming. There’s no room for fear in the bedroom.
“It feels like I’m being stabbed down there.”
If the sex is too rough, you have to say so. “You should communicate with your partner about what feels best and work together to make sex an enjoyable experience for both of you,” Dr. Pari says. What’s not normal: intense pain, or bleeding during or after intercourse. Make an appointment with your doc right away if you have those symptoms.
“We’re too focused on me. I need to pleasure my partner more.”
It’s important to know and accept that you deserve just as much attention as your partner when it comes to sex. “Self care isn’t selfish,” says Fleming. So instead of only thinking about the need to get your partner off, try relaxing and exploring what really turns you on. Try to be more engaged so you can feel more pleasure, too.
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“I’m just not in the mood.”
Feel like you never want to have sex anymore? “Know your turn-ons and use them,” says Fleming. Maybe you like cooking dinner with your partner and talking about your days prior to hitting the bedroom. Or maybe a massage or a glass of wine beforehand makes you feel sexy. And be sure to prioritize foreplay, says Fleming. This way, your brain will be more engaged and absorbed in the sexual experience.