Let’s Talk About Sex: The Experience of Sexual Difficulties



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



From songs like “WAP” and to shows like “Too Hot to Handle”, people cannot stop talking about having enjoyable sex. But, what about when sex is difficult? Ten to fifty-two percent of cis-women and fifty-four percent of transmen experience difficulties during the sexual response cycle or pain during sex (Kerckhof et al., 2019; Nazareth et al., 2003). These difficulties (hereafter referred to as sexual difficulties) can lead to a sex life that does not align with societal expectations. People often feel shame or not normal due to not following the societal expectations of what a “good” sex life looks like (Fitter et al., 2009; Shepard et al., 2008). This study explores how the stigma around sex and traditional sexual scripts affect the emotional health and self-image of adults’ in the United States who experience sexual difficulties. This study was conducted with people who were born with and still have predominantly internal reproductive anatomy (people assigned female at birth and some people assigned intersex at birth) and experience sexual difficulties. The experience of sexual difficulties across relationships with different genders was explored, and therefore all participants were required to have a relationship history inclusive of different genders. This qualitative study consisted of interviewing six participants. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was conducted and the data was analyzed through creating mind maps and coding in NVIVO. Some of the resulting themes include questioning “What is wrong with me?”, grappling with pressure and feelings of obligation to have sex, feelings of self-blame and regret, shared experiences, and growth towards sexual freedom.



Sex, Sexuality, Sexual Dysfunction, Sexual Difficulties, LGBTQ, Mental Health, Self Image