See all > Living & wellness
September 1, 2021 • read
Six sexual issues that are more common than you think
Talking about sex is less taboo than it used to be, but that doesn’t make it a comfortable topic to discuss. Whatever your sex life looks like, you’re likely reluctant to share the details, even with your closest friends. Chances are though, that many of the things you consider weird about it are probably normal. Here are six sexual issues that are more common than you might think.
1. Difficulty reaching climax
It might not seem this way, but having an orgasm each time you have sex isn’t a given. Everyone has difficulty reaching climax from time to time. It’s probably no surprise to learn though that there’s a gender gap when it comes to this. In one study of heterosexual newlyweds, 87% of husbands reported regularly orgasming during sex, while just less than half of the wives surveyed did. In addition, 43% of husbands surveyed were wrong about how often their wives achieved orgasm.
Difficulty reaching orgasm can happen for a variety of reasons — from intrusive thoughts to not enough foreplay or genital stimulation. If it’s a regular challenge for you or your partner, however, it should be addressed. Difficulties in a couple’s sex life are often interdependent. Your partner’s low sex drive or difficulty reaching climax can make you feel undesirable, which can affect your sex drive as well. Keeping the lines of communication open is a crucial part of a healthy sex life.
2. Having low sex drive
While TV and movies make it look like everyone is ready to jump into bed just about anytime, a lack of sexual desire is actually pretty common. In a study of 40 to 59-year-old Canadians, it was the most common sexual issue, especially for women — 40% of them reported having low sex drive within the last six months. As hormonal levels change throughout the lifespan, libido can fluctuate, but other factors can contribute as well. Pregnancy, breastfeeding, illness, and life and relationship changes can all contribute to a lack of sexual desire — for both partners.
3. Pain during sex
While it’s not uncommon, pain during sex is never normal, and there’s a long list of different possible causes. It might be caused by a lack of sexual arousal, but it can also be the result of fibroids, a urinary tract infection, or a sexually transmitted infection. For many post-menopausal women, changes in hormone levels can lead to regular vaginal dryness and painful sex. But just because something’s age-related doesn’t mean you have to live with it. If you experience pain during sex, it’s important to speak with a healthcare provider to determine its cause and the appropriate treatment. Lubricants, hormone therapy, and other interventions like prolonging foreplay can sometimes help.
4. Erectile dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction, or ED, happens to every man. Whether that means occasional difficulty getting or sustaining an erection, ejaculating prematurely, or having delayed or absent ejaculation, it’s a normal sexual issue. The older a man gets, the more likely he is to experience it — one study showed that almost half of Canadian men over age 40 experience ED. Other estimates suggest that moderate to severe ED affects between five to 20% of men.
But while occasional erectile dysfunction is common, it’s not always normal. ED can also signal an undiagnosed medical issue. Heart conditions, diabetes, high cholesterol, and alcoholism are just some of the underlying issues that can trigger erectile dysfunction. If you suddenly find yourself experiencing episodes of erectile dysfunction, or it’s happening more frequently, you should speak to a doctor. They can determine if there’s an underlying health issue, and also discuss available treatment options.
5. Getting UTIs after having sex
If you suffer from regular urinary tract infections or UTIs, your sex life could be to blame. UTIs happen when bacteria enter your urinary system. When you have sex, bacteria from your partner’s or your genitals or anus can migrate to the urethra, resulting in a UTI. To reduce your risk, make sure to urinate immediately after sex, or wash the area with warm water. If you continue to suffer from recurrent UTIs, speak to a doctor about other possible solutions.
6. Having fantasies
Not only are fantasies common, but many people have similar fantasies. One study asking people to rank a list of fantasies found that certain ones appealed to up to 50% of participants, while others were so prevalent that more than 84% of the group enjoyed them. Fantasies range in subject matter, but as long as you’re not hurting yourself or anyone else, they’re likely considered normal. In fact, research shows that almost everyone has fantasized about someone other than their partner while having sex and that the likelihood of this increases the longer the couple is together. The good news is that fantasies don’t necessarily predict affairs, and that they are just that – fantasies.
Sex is personal, but if you’re struggling with a sexual issue, you’re not alone. Sex is a physical experience, but it’s also mental and emotional, so it’s no surprise that it isn’t a success for every person, every time. Intrusive thoughts, physical issues, and feelings can all affect your performance – and that’s before you introduce things like alcohol, drugs, or prescription medication into the mix. But whether it’s normal or not, if you’re concerned about any aspect of your sex life, don’t be afraid to speak to a healthcare provider – you may be surprised at what they can do to help.