Here's what they said.
1. "I feel like I am just horrible in bed. I'm adventurous and up for just about anything when it comes to sex, but when it comes down to doing the deed I suddenly get too into my head and lose focus. I get distracted by trying to hide my imperfect body. I hate my body when it isn't clothed so all my attention goes to trying to find ways to keep my partner(s) from seeing me in an unflattering way. Sex becomes less fun for me when this happens and I'm afraid my partner(s) feel the same way. I'm going to be getting married soon and I don't want to bring this negativity into my married sex life, I just don't know how to stop the negative thoughts that hold me back from letting loose and having fun." —30/Female/Bisexual
2. "Truth is, I’m insecure about sex but I don’t know how to express that to a partner since I’m not a virgin. How do you explain that you’re inexperienced and uncomfortable with acts like blow jobs and hand jobs when you’ve had sex before? I use alcohol to mask my nervousness, but I worry I’ll never be able to have sex sober without anxiety and have a partner accept the fact that I want to start slow. It’s embarrassing and shameful to feel like the odd one out. I wish we talked more about just because 'everyone is having sex' doesn’t mean everyone is comfortable, enjoys it, or is an expert." —25/Female/Straight
3. "It's been six years since I last had sex. I live with my parents, I'm on powerful bipolar medication and I'm unemployed. I'm no incel (destroy those pricks) but it sucks and physical intimacy is important to me. People act like everyone who can't get laid is a 'loser' or a creep, but I just don't know what I'm supposed to do. I can go months without even a single match on Tinder and much longer without a reply.
It's been so long that I don't even know if I can perform. As soon as I can get some money together I'm going to hire a sex worker. I want to escape this shame and stigma. In the meantime all I can do is practice patience and try to be kinder to people." —35/Male/Bisexual
4. "I am a married straight man and I really want to experience some anal pleasure from my wife. It’s a shame that there is such a taboo with anal pleasure for men or the assumption that it’s 'gay'. There’s a lot of nerve endings on the anus, not to mention the easy access to the prostate. I would love to have her eat and finger me and possibly peg me, but I’m just concerned on how to bring it up. We have a very open and experimental sex life but anal pleasure for me is a topic that has never even come close to being brought up. Any other men experiencing this?" —29/Male/Straight
5. "I have TMJ, which causes pain in my jaw and makes oral sex with my husband super difficult and painful. I hate this about myself and wish I could do it for him more. I tend to get really insecure and I wish people would talk about how this affects people." —27/Female/Straight
6. "Biggest taboo of all: virginity. There’s no major physical obstacle, it’s just never happened, and at this point it seems unlikely. Loneliness, isolation, embarrassment — all while watching my looks fade and my spinsterhood settle in. No underlying trauma, not cripplingly antisocial — just no mutual interest. No one has ever pursued me, nor have I ever pursued. I’m old and in a very small, strange, and secretive minority.
And the WORST thing — THE ABSOLUTE WORST — is when thoughtless well-wishers say, 'Aw, you never know. You’ll meet someone one day.'
Fuck off. Maybe I will. Maybe I won’t. I have to learn every day that even though this part of life has passed me by, I can still be okay. I just wish everyone else could realize the same thing." —43/Female/Straight
7. "For context, I identify as vers-bottom sexually, meaning I prefer to receive than to give, but I'm open to being on top. Thing is, I'm fairly new in terms of sexual activity, and I've only ever received anal sex. The anxiety kicks in when it comes to topping: I've never done it before and it scares me to try. What if I hurt him? Is it really as simple as thrusting? Will it feel good for him? Will it feel good for me? It's one of those things that you just gotta take the plunge, but holy hell there's a whole bunch of thoughts keeping me from diving right in.
On the topic of bottoming, is it supposed to feel like you need to crap every time? I definitely get the pleasure aspect, but every time his dick really gets in there, I'm worried he's gonna open the floodgates! No matter if I've douched, if I'm taking fiber supplements or both, that fear really keeps me from truly enjoying myself and makes me an anxious wreck the whole time." —23/Male/Gay
8. "Sexual dysfunction in women is more common and traumatizing than people realize. Everyone talks about erectile dysfunction, but no one talks about vaginismus or vulvodynia or anything like that. I went on a TV show a few years ago discussing my life with vaginismus and it was met with very mixed reviews. Female sexual dysfunction needs to be discussed and treated as well as erectile dysfunction is." —32/Female/Straight
9. "I have been plagued for as long as I can remember with the fact that I don’t have a perfect little Barbie-type vagina. I have heard so many men make jokes (not about me directly) about 'roast beef' vaginas, how long labia = loose/slutty vagina, etc. So for the most part, I avoid sex with new partners for fear of judgment or grossing them out completely." —27/Female/Straight
10. "I wish I could talk to people about losing my sex drive after my career started taking off. Sometimes I masturbate, or my husband and I have oral sex and orgasm, but the stress makes it increasingly difficult to relax and enjoy the intimacy. It makes me feel guilty because I know it is difficult for my husband as well." —37/Woman/Straight
11. "The reason I identify as asexual is because I simply do not want another person touching my genitals with any part of their body for any reason (and I'm not enthused about the idea of touching another person's genitals either). People often assume that it's because I was traumatized, like molested or assaulted or raped. Nope. I've never had any experiences, consensual or not, but I just know that this is something that I would find deeply upsetting and would not enjoy at all.
I still want to find love, and I still want to experience physical intimacy with a woman, and I would be open to lots of things that people would probably classify as sexual, but I'm afraid that my hard boundaries means I'll never have these things. I see so much stuff like, 'If she doesn't go down on you, she's not a REAL lesbian, she's a fake.'
I don't want to lie or mislead people, but I'm also afraid that if I open with this then people will just shut me down without ever getting to know me. People will claim that everything isn't about what people do with each other genitals, but for an ace woman trying to find love with another woman, it sure feels like that's how the world works." —31/Female/Asexual lesbian
12. "I've always been pretty quiet during sex. It wasn't until recently that this guy said he was frustrated that I didn't make a lot of noise because then he can't tell if he's pleasuring me. Ever since then, I try to force myself to be louder but I feel like it's coming off fake. Loudness of sex never used to be an insecurity of mine, but now I can't help thinking about it when I'm having sex." —20/Female/Straight
13. "I wish we talked about how a lack of desire shown to you by your partner eats away at you. I love my boyfriend and want to spend the rest of my life with him. In bed he is the physical incarnation of a yawn. I want to feel desired again. I want sex. At 29 I’m too young to have it once every few months in a 'committed' relationship." —29/Female/Straight
14. "As a full service sex worker/stripper, I've found that maintaining autonomy from my job has been hard in sexual and romantic personal relationships. More often than not, I feel like my partner is either fetishizing my work, or is disgruntled that I 'share' myself with customers. It's definitely affected me some days when I'm thinking of my boyfriend at home and whether or not a lap dance is considered cheating, etc." —25/Female/Bisexual
15. "I got married recently. My whole life I grew up Christian, which means that I decided not to have sex before marriage, and my husband was the same way. So imagine my horror on my wedding night when we tried having sex and it was way, way too painful to do anything. I had never been able to wear a tampon, but I thought that once I ~got into it~ that things would click. It didn’t.
It’s been four months since my wedding. I still haven’t had sex yet. I have gone to see three doctors and ended up having to get vaginal dilators because I have vaginismus, meaning the walls of my vagina are unusually tight. I’ve spent a lot of time crying about it, thinking about how I wish it was as easy as it looked in the movies. It makes me ashamed when my less conservative friends joke about my wedding night, insinuating that I had sex, when in reality, I’m four months in and I haven’t done it. Don’t get me wrong: my husband and I are doing pretty much everything else we can do sexually, but I wish I had known that this was a struggle that other people faced, and I wasn’t the only one going through it." —20/Female/Straight
16. "Surviving sexual assault as a teenager had lasting impacts I never expected. Until now, I never identified them. For me, sex is a shameful and scary place, even though I know all of the wonderful things it can bring to a relationship. When I engage in sexual activity whether with a new or a long-term partner, I completely dissociate from my body, sort of playing the part instead of truly enjoying the experience for the intense emotional connection it can provide. It breaks my heart that previous trauma still affects the way I experience sexuality with partners whom I have deeply loved. " —26/Female/Straight
17. "I'm turning 32 in a month, and I'm still a virgin. I've only ever pleasured myself, and only recently gotten myself a vibrator/dildo thing. It's been two months since I bought it and I can't bring myself to use it. I'm petrified of an inanimate object being in me, but I'm still masturbating almost every other day.
I'm deeply afraid that I'll never be able to be intimate with someone, if I'm this afraid of a sex toy. "—31/Female/Bisexual
18. "I just recently started having sex, and I guess I never realized how much I'd internalized my own culture's deep taboo of anything sex-related. I'm Asian-American, and I'm such a supportive, sex-positive person to the people around me, but I can't seem to apply the same standards to myself.
I wish I'd been positively reinforced from a young age that sex isn't a bad thing, because every time I do have sex I spiral afterwards into anxiety about how guilty I feel and how disappointed my parents would be if they knew — as if my parents have anything to do with my sex life! I've spent the past few months upset and resentful that my parents never had any sort of body or sex positivity talk with me beyond the warning that if I gave up my virginity, I could never get it back. My parents mean the world to me but now the only thing I can really associate with sex is that ominous warning. I just want to be able to explore what I like and don't like without all the years of my Asian heritage bearing down on me like an unwanted third party in the room, watching me having sex and staring at me judgmentally." —20/Female/Bisexual
19. "Sex can be a gateway into revealing a lot of stuff about my mental health that I'm not quite ready to address with a new partner. I struggle with self-harm (and am seeking professional help for it) and would like to engage in the occasional no strings attached hookup, but I feel so ashamed about the visible scars on my body that it seems almost out of the question. There are so many ways sex makes us inherently vulnerable. It's hard for me to find gratification and feel desired when I'm going into new experiences with my history literally scarred all over my body." —27/Female/Bisexual
20. "I came to terms with having erectile dysfunction and low testosterone at age 40. I thought it was a problem only older men experienced, so I had been ignoring the fact that over the past several years, it took a significant amount of stimulation to get an erection, leading my husband to believe that I wasn't sexually interested in him after 20 years together.
When I would get an erection, I'd have so much anxiety about losing it that I would rush to reach orgasm or avoid penetration because I feared I would be too soft. It strained our relationship and caused significant friction because neither of us were satisfied with our sex life. I even questioned my own sexuality since my husband is 12 years older than me and had no issues with getting an erection.
I finally broke down and visited a compassionate and understanding urologist who told me that 5% of men experience erectile dysfunction by the age of 40. He prescribed ED medication, and it has been transformative. My husband and I used to have sex once, maybe twice a week, and it was very vanilla and repetitive. Now, it's often every other day — or multiple times a day on weekends — and getting a lot kinkier. I didn't realize how deeply erectile dysfunction impacted my life and I honestly wish I had gotten over my pride and machismo to talk about it sooner with a doctor." —40/Male/Gay
21. "I don’t get wet at all, and I’ve never even been close to orgasming from sex, even oral sex. If I don’t use lube, sex is uncomfortable for me and I feel like he takes it personally. If I do use lube, it feels better but I worry he thinks I need it because he doesn’t turn me on." —21/Female/Straight
22. "I have body dysmorphic disorder. Meaning, for me, I always feel fat, ugly, and unworthy. I often use sex to convince myself that I'm pretty, which has put me in some crazy/not-safe situations. Like when I was feeling super down while traveling out of the country (I had no cell service), I got in a car with a local I'd just met and let him take me out of the city so we could hook up in his car. Yeah...that was dumb. But I felt good about myself the next day because someone wanted me.
With that, I wish that we talked more about the way that sex affects our psyches and how it can become addictive. No one ever tells you about the high you get when you sleep with someone new and they tell you how incredible your body is. Even though I'll never believe them, it still feels good to hear for those few minutes."—24/Female/Straight
23. "I know height isn't something that comes up on people's radar when it comes to what can cause insecurity in bed or that comes with shame, but for a plus-sized woman who is significantly taller than her husband, it's hard for me to not feel like I'm smothering him. Since I'm taller than him, it feels like I get extra 'weight' automatically on top of my being 'technically obese' because of the difference in height. Not to mention we can't try most positions because ~things~ just don't line up right, or if they do it's only at the point of penetration and we can't touch each other or kiss each other." —23/Female/Straight
24. "I've been on antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds for so long that I don't know if my libido is just...permanently lowered? Or if I just don't think about sex like a 'normal' person. I almost never initiate. It just seems like a lot of work. The fact that I can't orgasm from penetrative sex (I need clitoral stimulation or it's not happening) doesn't help. Sometimes it feels like I'm broken." —27/Female/Straight
25. "I hurt my back/hip five years ago. It still cracks and rotates, so if I'm on top I can only focus on the pain. I'm very slow. I can't hold myself up. It makes me think that my partners think I'm lazy because I'm also overweight. It sucks; painful sex is never fun. There have been times when my legs are in the air and I just need to stop because I'm in so much pain." —26/Female/Bisexual
26. "I haven't had sex in ten years and am super insecure about sharing that with friends. They are always talking about their experiences in excruciating detail and I just feel that it won't be received well if I say that I haven't been with anyone in a while. No particular reason for the dry spell; just me doing me. No judgements against others for their sex life either. But I seriously doubt saying that I haven't had sex in a decade will get anything less than a dramatic 'WHAT!?!?!?' followed by eye rolls, snickering and gossiping behind my back." —30/Female/Bisexual
27. "I've been dating my partner for six months now and I've never looked at them when we have sex. I'm too afraid that they're secretly not attracted to me and I don't want to see the disappointment in their eyes." —22/Non-binary/Bisexual
28. "Up until this year, despite body image issues, initial inexperience, etc. I used to have ZERO hang-ups about sex. This year though, things have changed. I recently came out as queer, and I've found that navigating dating as a queer woman who used to only date cis men has made me a lot more insecure. My inexperience sexually with people of different genders makes me feel like I don't know what I'm doing — from simply flirting to having sex, I feel like an alien on another planet. It's like all these '''rules''' have gone out the window and I'm starting from scratch. I have found people I'm more comfortable expressing my insecurities to, which makes sex better, but I still wonder when I'll feel validated enough in my sexuality where I won't feel like a newbie anymore." —24/Woman/Pansexual
29. "My husband and I just found each other six years ago and last year I started menopause. Now I struggle to orgasm. He feels badly when I can't complete, so I have begun faking it to make him feel better. I hate that I do this, but I know it's not going to happen and he'll just keep trying. I've gone from an orgasm 90 percent of the time to 20 percent of the time." —36/Female/Straight
30. "I have been dating since the moment I came out as trans. I find dating women a very huge obstacle. I feel like being trans, I am not allowed to feel confident and be seen as a sexual being just like everyone else. I tend to mute the sexual aspect of myself to keep everyone else comfortable. But in reality, I do love having sex and being close to someone. I do also love the body I have and wouldn’t mind showing it off. I haven’t yet seen a healthy depiction on what it’s like to be a trans person dating and enjoying sex just like everyone else. I tend to have to figure it out on my own. The shame attached to being trans and our bodies can be very damaging and isolating." —19/Trans male/Straight
31. "I have a pretty severe anxiety disorder and it affects sex in a lot of ways for me. I’ve been with my partner for five years but sometimes during sex I’ll randomly start panicking or start thinking of something negative. It completely takes the pleasure away from sex and I’ll have to struggle just get my thoughts straight. Thankfully my boyfriend is really supportive and understands if I want to stop." —22/Female/Straight
32. "I have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and even the name alone makes me feel nervous and insecure about my body. I feel like if and when I explain that to someone they might feel grossed out because of the cystic part of the name...which is completely stupid, I know, but I just can't help but have these negative thoughts.
Apart from the name though, the insecurities that come along with PCOS get even deeper. PCOS is a serious condition that can cause obesity, decreased fertility, acne, irregular periods, and excess hair. For me, PCOS makes me feel utterly gross. I have so much unwanted hair all over my body. I feel so insecure about this that I am 20 years old and I have never been kissed and I have never had a relationship with anyone. How could anyone feel attracted to my body? I feel so unworthy of love." —20/Female/Pansexual
33. "I am SO self-conscious about receiving oral sex. To have someone's face down there feels way more vulnerable than any other act of sex has ever felt. I shy away from it because I can't stop freaking out enough to enjoy it. I worry about my hygiene, if it's taking too long for me to finish, etc. I really want my partners to go down on me but I need to work on feeling comfortable first. Not sure how, since I don't want to talk about this in therapy. Eek." —27/Female/Queer
34. "I've never been in a relationship, but I'm worried that once I find a partner, they won't want to stay with me once they find out I don't want to have sex with them. And who knows, maybe I will want to have sex with them. But as of right now, I don't see myself wanting to have sex. It's hard to imagine that this won't be a problem when all I see everywhere is that people constantly think about sex. I can't relate to that in the slightest." —20/Female/Asexual
35. "I randomly and unpredictably switch between being completely sex-repulsed and having no sex drive, to having a 'normal' sex drive. I'm in a long-term relationship, and I can feel how my periods of sex-repulsion bother my boyfriend and put a strain on our relationship, but I don't know how to really talk about it with him without making him feel like it's his fault. It's very ostracizing and I sometimes feel weird and broken because of it." —19/Female/Straight
36. "I am a plus sized gay man, and I often find it that I get really insecure about my size when getting intimate with men. I think society portrays gay men as all gorgeous and muscular, and that is not the case with me. Sometimes I tell guys that I want to wait to have sex, even though that's not true, because I get so worried about them seeing me with my clothes off." —22/Male/Gay
37. "I hate the pressure to be sexually active. I personally want to wait till marriage to have sex because I want an actual commitment built on love and trust between me and my partner, along with the understanding that we will spend the rest of our lives together. I shouldn’t feel the need to justify that choice, as it’s a personal one, but I do because it is so outside the norm. I understand that most people don’t feel the way I do, and I’m okay with that, but it makes dating extremely difficult because the expectation is that you WILL have sex, not that you MAY have sex.
Basically, I wish that as a society we could come to terms with the idea that having sex or not having sex has zero impact on a woman’s value. We have a right to do what we wish with our bodies, but if you choose to have sex, you’re a slut, and if you choose not to, you’re undatable because you won’t put out. It’s a catch-22 and we can’t win." —22/Female/Straight