The survey explored the views, preferences and experiences of 1,000 Australians aged 18 to 90 and served the results on a platter for all of us to dive into.
The last time we reviewed this data, we spoke about orgasm gaps. This time, however, I want to look at the biggest issues preventing Australians from enjoying their sex lives.
Now, it could be argued that communication, sexual education and consent are some of the biggest problems impacting Aussie sex lives right now. But for the sake of this piece, we’re only working off the struggles that participants spoke to in this survey.
And quite easily, the most common thread here was confidence.
How a lack of sexual confidence impacts different demographics
While insecurities popped up for every single group surveyed, they didn’t appear in the same way every time. Let’s take a look at that.
At the broadest level, the data showed that women overwhelmingly prefer sex with the lights off because they’re not confident about their appearance. This was true of 34 per cent of Gen Z women and 47 per cent of Seniors.
But drilling a little deeper into NORMAL’s findings, here are the biggest sources of insecurity for each demographic.
- 25% of women and 20% of men find that pornography makes them feel inadequate physically.
- 61% of men and 66% of women do not feel confident talking about sexual desires with their partner.
- 33% of women and 13% of men say body image issues make enjoying sex difficult.
- 31% of women do not feel confident in their ability to perform certain sex acts.
- 25% of men and 31% of women do not feel confident during sex, period.
- 35% of men reported wanting to give their partner more pleasure.
- 20% of men find porn makes them feel physically inadequate.
- 22% of men said porn made them feel less confident in their abilities.
- 46% of men and 66% of women feel uncomfortable discussing sexual desires with a partner.
- 40% of women and 25% of men said they struggled with body image and confidence.
- 29% of women and 21% of men do not feel confident during sex.
- 27% of men said they wanted to give their partner more pleasure.
- 45% of men and 66% of women do not consider themselves as confident when it comes to sharing sexual desires.
- 31% of women reported body image issues impacting sex.
- 17% of women and 22% of men do not feel confident during sex.
- 23% of women and 29% of men wanted to give their partners more pleasure.
- 70% of women and 55% of men do not feel confident discussing sexual desires with a partner.
26% of women said body image got in the way of sex, with 17% saying feeling stressed or anxious also contributed.
In this group, a large group of women (51%) of women reported feeling disinterested in sex and men spoke to difficulty holding erections (31%) and low libido (28%).
- 49% of men and 64% of women struggle with the confidence to talk about sexual wants.
- 30% of women do not feel confident with sex.
Similar to the Boomer group, other common issues here were lack of interest, problems holding an erection, difficulty reaching orgasm and low libido.
Lovehoney Sexologist, Cam Fraser elaborated on some of these experiences over email for us.
“According to a 2019 report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, more than one in two Australian men aged 18 to 55 have experienced sexual difficulty in the past 12 months. Unfortunately, on average, men are less likely than women to seek help for health concerns, particularly sexual function issues,” he shared.
If you find you are struggling with your sex life in any capacity (and this goes for people of all genders) he suggested a few strategies.
What to do when you’re feeling overwhelmed by sex
First, he shared that removing the pressure is a huge plus for everyone. “Consider managing your expectations, particularly regarding sex drive and sexual performance,” he said. Arousal “waxes and wanes” and that’s completely normal.
Get comfortable with your own body. Fraser shared that a little bit of solo play, or sexual interaction with a partner (this doesn’t have to be sex), is a great way to “reduce stress and improve sleep”.
Bump up your activity. “Starting a regular stretching routine such as a daily 5-minute basic stretching sequence can have physical and mental health benefits for people of all ages,” he said. But specifically, if you work on your pelvic area this “can help with premature ejaculation and increase the pleasure you experience during orgasm”.
Finally, if you’re concerned chat with a sex educator or sexologist. They can help you get to the bottom of the issues that are getting in the way of your enjoyment of sex. (Though it is worth noting that not wanting to have sex is also completely fine.)
But if this data indicates anything, it’s that we all tend to feel a little unsure when it comes to sex, so hopefully, the knowledge that you’re not alone in that can help boost your confidence a little.