Thousands of women experience anxiety when it comes to initiating intimacy with their partners…

Whether their hesitance is based on body issues, or their personal ideas and beliefs about sex, it could lead to some frustrations in the relationship.

Relationship counsellor and clinical sexologist, Leandie Buys weighs in on how to boost your sexual self-confidence.

***

“I have no sexual confidence. I’ve been married for a number of years and if my husband doesn’t make a move, then there’s just no sex. What can I do?”

Subscribe to our Free Daily All4Women Newsletter to enter

This is the kind of question I hear often.

If this is something that you experience in your relationship, I want to assure you that you are not alone.

There are many women who feel shy about sex and there are many reasons for this. As young girls, we are told not to touch ourselves – that it is dirty. We are taught that “nice girls don’t let boys do those sorts of things to them”.

Society tells us that to be considered a lady, we shouldn’t like sex too much and that do so would make us “easy”. But then we enter a committed relationship, and suddenly sex is part of the deal, and plays a very important part of the relationship.

If you look at it from this perspective, it is clear why many women lack sexual self-confidence.

How do you start building this confidence in your relationship?

If you want to initiate sex more, but are unsure how to go about it, one way is to work out a code that will communicate to him that you are in the mood without you having to actually ask.

In the beginning, this may involve a slightly ‘awkward’ conversation to decide on the code, but unless he can read your mind, there is no other way! Perhaps the signal might be to leave a chocolate on his pillow, or serve him a special dessert.

Body issues are also a factor

Many women struggle with body image issues which affect their perception of their entire body, and how they feel others, especially their intimate partners, see them.

Let me assure you, very few women are 100% happy with their body – even supermodels.

Regardless of how we look, it’s common to feel uneasy, anxious, awkward, or vulnerable when we’re fully undressed in front of our partners.

We can be overly critical when it comes to our bodies and how we believe others see us, but research shows that as a rule, men don’t usually see our flaws the way we do. And, as you probably already realise, the way we think about ourselves can tie us down and unfairly prevent us from expressing our true desires.

Does your partner expect you to look like a supermodel?

Chances are he doesn’t. He may even have similar concerns about his own body and wonder if you would prefer him to look like Idris Elba! Why not have a heart-to-heart with him and discover what both of you find attractive in each other.

Remember to constantly communicate with him about how you feel.

Start with baby steps – burn a candle in the room when you initiate sex for softer, more romantic, more flattering light until you feel more comfortable. Then, if you wish, move slowly to having the lights on.

Talk to each other while having sex and tell him when you feel uncomfortable. Remember to take baby steps until you are comfortable.

If you are really struggling with overwhelming negative thoughts about your body, I would also recommend you seek professional help to build your self-esteem and to gain self-confidence.