5 Insidious Ways Negative Body Image Hurts Your Sex Life

How you think about your body affects you in the bedroom.

5 Insidious Ways Negative Body Image Hurts Your Sex Life Yuris Alhumaydy/unsplash

When you have low self-confidence and body image issues, bedroom activities can be difficult and may even feel like a chore. Shame can take over, preventing your sex life from being the best it can be.

But once you begin improving self-esteem and learning how to stop hating yourself by limiting self-critical thoughts, you'll be on your way to the best sex ever.

RELATED: 7 Ways To Become More Sexually Confident (Without Feeling Embarrassed)


Embracing your Inner Sex Goddess is a tall order when all you can think about is how disgusting your stomach looks and how fat your thighs are.

For sure, your low self-esteem and the various negative thoughts running through your head provide a lousy setup for foreplay or any kind of sexually satisfying experience — for both you and your partner.

Before you can focus on how to have better sex and improve your sex life, you need to accept that your negative self-image affects your bedroom activities.

With that said, here are the 5 most insidious ways a negative body image hurts your sex life.

1. How you perceive your body affects desire and arousal.


The more negatively you think about your body, the more sexually inhibited you will be. All phases of the sexual response cycle are affected by disliking your body, including desire, interest, arousal, and orgasm.

Being critical toward your body means you are less in-tune with pleasurable sexual sensations.

Seeing your body or its parts negatively means you are less likely to want to have sex, feel sexy, or be present enough in the moment to experience the "oohs" and "aaahs."

2. Feeling bad about your body limits your sexual expression.

Worrying about how you look means you are less likely to get naked with your partner.

If you are disgusted by the cellulite on your thighs, for example, you are unlikely to be comfortable with your partner looking at or touching your thighs. Cellulite is normal, folks! It occurs in 80 to 90 percent of women.


If you feel bad about your body, you may not be okay with your partner freely touching or exploring your body.

Also, you may be so caught up in your own negative thoughts about your body image that you are not present to touch or explore your partner's body.

3. Shame is associated with negative body image and with less-satisfying sex.

Many factors contribute to a lack of confidence and negative body image. A common one is a history of being teased.

Let’s say you remember kids in sixth grade calling you "thunder thighs."

Forget the fact it was 15-plus years ago and that you are beyond puberty, or that your body looks completely different now. The memories are still there as if they were created yesterday.


Another common cause of negative body image and shame is the memory of how your mom talked about her own body and maybe about yours, too.

Again, it doesn't matter how long ago these memories were planted. You still carry with you the beliefs, memories, and shame associated with that time.

Shame and enjoyment cannot mutually co-exist.

RELATED: 7 Ways To Feel The Sexiest You Ever Have About Your Body In Bed

4. Your discomfort and hatred for your body limits your repertoire of sex positions.

Self-critical thoughts and feelings of disgust toward your body typically mean you are less likely to be playful and curious about different sex positions.

Missionary style, or perhaps under the covers and in the dark, may be the extent of what feels tolerable.


For example, you may be unwilling to try a certain sex position because you think it makes your stomach look fat or that it accentuates the width of your thighs.

5. Dissociation from the moment is more likely with body dissatisfaction.

Critiquing your body size or shape takes up space in your mind and takes you away from the present moment.

Being distracted with negative thoughts about your body means you are less able to access and experience the pleasure and intimacy happening then and there with your partner.

Another reason for dissociation is a history of sexual assault or other boundary violations. A negative sexual experience from the past can be triggered in the present, causing a sense of being somewhere else other than in the here and now.


The most powerful sex organ is our brain. Our relationship with our body, including our thoughts and feelings, is what determines sexual satisfaction.

Great sex is not about how we look or what we weigh. Moans of pleasure are available by addressing the negative beliefs and thoughts our own brain generates.

Self-love is key to better sex. And the only person who can do that for yourself is you.

Once you learn how to love yourself, you learn how to be more confident and build self-esteem.

Practice makes progress. Perhaps you can enlist your partner's help. They will probably accept with a big smile on their face.

RELATED: 5 Ways To Become The Sexual Goddess (Or God!) You've Always Wanted To Be


Dr. Elayne Daniels is a private practice psychologist in Boston whose passion is to help women access their birthright of bodily pleasure. She specializes in issues surrounding eating, body image, and sex. To learn more, visit her website.