This sexual repression article is meant to be a source of valuable information for the reader; however, it is not a substitute for direct expert assistance. Seek help from a professional therapist or counselor if you’re experiencing a severe case of this condition.
Do you have extremely negative feelings toward sex? Are you having difficulty enjoying sexual activities? Do you feel guilty every time you’re touching yourself? Do you have difficulty explaining your needs and wants in the bedroom?
If you’re nodding to these questions, chances are you’re going through sexual repression, wherein you block your sexual thoughts out of shame and fear. Having this condition can hinder you from experiencing the joy of sex and self-pleasure and may even bring difficulty in forming romantic relationships.
However, you don’t have to struggle with your sexuality forever. You can free yourself from the shackles of sexual repression as long as you’re ready to overcome it. For this guide, we will discuss what sexual repression is and how you can work towards sexual liberation.
What is Sexual Repression?
Sexual repression is an experience wherein a person unconsciously blocks their erotic thoughts and desires, preventing them from expressing their sexuality.
They feel a sense of shame and confusion when they face an activity that requires them to express their sexual selves, such as being intimate with their partner or masturbating. Sexually repressed people also tend to avoid discussions involving sex or consume media with erotic scenes and themes. This doesn’t mean that a sexually repressed person doesn’t have sexual urges. They do, but they tend to stop themselves from fulfilling it.
Sigmund Freud introduced this concept, stating that it was the “chief psychological problem of mankind.” He believed that sexual repression in youth would manifest in adulthood, indirectly causing crime, illness, and other forms of tragedy. He even considered renowned artist Leonardo da Vinci a “repressed homosexual,” which has motivated the artist to bring brilliant masterpieces to life.
Signs That You’re Sexually Repressed
Do you have negative thoughts about sex and wondering if you’re sexually repressed or not? Find out the signs of sexual repression below.
1You think of sex as a negative act without any redeeming qualities.
Sexually repressed people consider sex as sinful, an activity that can lead to punishment. Despite different resources saying how it can be beneficial for your health, they can’t seem to see it in a positive light. Some are even scared of the idea of doing it.
Other people also see sex as an activity that leads to weakness. If you’re masturbating or having sex regularly, you wouldn’t be a strong as someone who doesn’t do the deed. For them, sex involves giving in to your weakness.
2You feel shameful when thinking about your sexual desires.
Another sign of sexual repression is the sense of shame when thinking about one’s desires. People tend to get excited when thinking of sexual thoughts, especially their desires; it even sets them in the mood.
However, sexually repressed people tend to do the opposite; they may end up cringing with the thought of wanting sex or their fantasies. They may also try to remove these “dirty thoughts” by distracting themselves with work or entertainment.
If you feel this way when thinking about sexy thoughts, then there’s a possibility that you’re sexually repressed.
3You’re anxious while touching yourself or having sex.
Contrary to popular belief, most sexually repressed people still have sex or masturbate. However, they don’t enjoy it as much as other people would. Whenever they’re getting intimate with themselves or with their partner, they feel uncomfortable throughout the deed. They feel like they’re making a “mistake” and that they should finish as soon as possible.
4You feel guilty or “dirty” after masturbating or having sex.
Aside from getting anxious, people with sexual repression tend to feel guilty after having sexual activity. They feel extremely remorseful for what they did, as if they did something illegal. They may resort to negative self-talk, saying to themselves how stupid or awful they were to say yes to their “dirty” urges.
5You believe that your body is not attractive enough to have sex.
Some sexually repressed people may have body image issues. They think that their bodies are not attractive enough and that they don’t deserve to have sex.
You see, when a person is free from sexual repression, they tend to have more self-pleasure experiences, making them in-tune with their body and seeing it more positively. Orgasms can also boost one’s self-esteem, making them love their body even more. That’s why when a person stops themselves from exploring their body, they never become in-tune with it, resulting in body image issues.
Sexual repression also stops a person from figuring out their sexual orientation. If a sexually repressed person is into the same sex, they may stop themselves from thinking or expressing it since it’s not the norm, resulting in a negative body image.
6You feel guilty for consuming erotic content.
Do you ever cringe at the porn you’re watching after orgasming and having post-nut clarity? Now, it’s normal to feel iffy watching porn once the arousal is gone, but sexually repressed people tend to be extremely guilty about it. Same with post-sex guilt, they may resort to negative self-talk; some may also experience intense distress after the deed.
7You have difficulty expressing your sexual thoughts to your partner.
Since sexually repressed people have negative thoughts about sex, they’re not excited about the idea of having sex with their partners. Some would do it because their partners wanted it, while others may never engage in sex and would come up with excuses such as “they’re waiting for the right time” or that “they believe in marriage before sex.”
Most of them wouldn’t express their sexual desire with their partners and may even avoid intimate discussions. They also have difficulty expressing their needs, desires, and boundaries in the bedroom.
Misconceptions About Sexual Repression
Most people are misinformed about sexual repression due to the lack of access to resources. They also associate sexual aversion with one’s gender or preferences, all of which are unrelated to this condition. Let’s debunk these myths below.
1“Asexual people are sexually repressed.”
Being asexual isn’t the same as sexual repression.
Asexuality is a form of sexual orientation wherein an ace/asexual person has little interest in having sex. They can still fall in love and have romantic relationships; they just don’t focus on the sexual aspect of the relationship and express intimacy in ways that don’t involve sexual activities. Some asexual people also love self-pleasure and may even engage in mutual masturbation with their partners.
The lack of sexual attraction that an ace/asexual person has doesn’t stem from negative thoughts about sex. They simply don’t feel that much sexual attraction but still perceive sex as a healthy form of intimacy.
2“Sexual repression is the same as sexual frustration.”
Sexual frustration is different from sexual repression; it’s an experience wherein you’re having less sex than what your body wants or not getting enough pleasurable sexperiences. This leads to irritability, excitement, body tension, and excessive thoughts about sex. Most sexually frustrated people still perceive sex positively, so nope, sexual repression isn’t the same as sexual frustration.
However, there’s still a connection between these two situations. Some sexually repressed people tend to get sexually frustrated since they cannot fulfill their sensual urges and have conflicting thoughts about sex. They want to experience it but cannot fully enjoy sex because they think it’s bad for their well-being.
3“People who wait to have sex before marriage are sexually repressed.”
Another misconception about sexual repression is that people who wait before marriage are sexually repressed. This isn’t the case, as there are people who simply prefer to share sexual intimacy once they’ve connected with their partners on a deeper level. If you’re someone that wants to get married before having sex and is happy with their decision and still has positive thoughts about sex, then you’re not sexually repressed; it’s simply your preference.
On the other hand, if you’re waiting to get married before having sex because you’re scared to get punished or that you think sex is a deviant act that can only be done by married couples, then there’s a possibility that you’re sexually repressed. This is because your negative perception about intercourse is what drives you to wait for sex.
4“People who love ‘vanilla sex’ are sexually repressed.”
Being disinterested in sexual experimentation doesn’t mean you’re sexually repressed. You see, people have different preferences in the bedroom. Some people enjoy kinky plays, such as BDSM, roleplay, or public sex, while others prefer to be on the vanilla side; they enjoy making love rather than exploring different depths of pleasure.
5“People that are free from sexual repression have sex all the time.”
No, people who are free from sexual repression don’t have sex all the time, nor do they automatically enjoy casual encounters.
As we’ve mentioned in the previous point, people have different preferences for having sex. Some sex-positive people may love playing around, while others may prefer to have deeply intimate sexperiences. You can still have a positive outlook about sex and pleasure and still prefer to have fewer sexcapades.
Causes of Sexual Repression
People may start having deeply-seated issues about sex during their childhood, especially if they grew up in an environment wherein there are restrictive ideas or attitudes about sex. There are also incidents in one’s life that can trigger sexual repression; they may repress sexual thoughts to cope with the tragedy. Learn more about it below.
1Cultural and Societal Norms
Sex is considered taboo in most countries with conservative and religious values, such as the Philippines. As we’re one of only two predominantly Roman Catholic countries in Asia and 86% of people in our population are Roman Catholics, the traditional ideas of Roman Catholicism are still ingrained in our minds, including the sanctity of sex. This means if you have sexual acts with someone you’re not married to or experiencing pleasure with yourself, then you’re considered a sinner in this religion.
This is why people brought up with religious guardians tend to have a negative perception of sex. They believe that pleasure is the work of the devil and that they’re going to get punished for experiencing it.
2Lack of Information
Another reason people get sexually repressed is the lack of access to educational resources regarding sex during their youth. Try to remember the sexual health lessons that you’ve got before. Did it ever mention pleasure nor consent? Did your teacher ever share the benefits of sex or self-pleasure?
If you’re shrugging your head, then you’re not alone in this one. Most instructors cover the scientific aspect of sex, such as puberty, periods, fertilization process, pregnancy, and the like. Sex is simply discussed to reproduce; the pleasure aspect of intercourse is always off the table. In fact, the clitoris was never mentioned in most sexual health classes; they would mention all the parts of the female genitalia, but when it comes to the clitoris, which is the female pleasure center for women, nobody tries to include it.
People also have limited knowledge of safe sex tips, sexually transmitted diseases, and related topics, making people confused about sex once they’ve reached adulthood. Sexual repression may end up as a response to the lack of knowledge; they may end up getting afraid of the activity because they have no idea what it’s all about.
3Trauma from a Past Experiences
Sexual repression may also be caused by traumatic experiences involving sex. Survivors of sexual abuse such as rape may go through long-term and significant emotional pain. Thoughts about sex may trigger their trauma, so they may end up repressing sexual thoughts to cope with the pain.
People with bad experiences in bed, such as not being able to orgasm, getting neglected, or getting their boundaries violated during the deed, may end with sexual repression too. They’re seeing sex in a negative light, not because of societal norms, but because they have awful experiences with it.
Consequences of Sexual Repression
As mentioned earlier, Sigmund Freud believed that sexual repression in youth would manifest in adulthood, causing physical and emotional consequences. Here are some of the issues that sexually repressed people may experience as they live with this situation.
1You may experience sexual frustration.
When a person doesn’t fulfill their sexual urges, they may become sexually frustrated. They may get physical symptoms such as restlessness, sleeping difficulties, or recurring body tension. They may also end up with mood swings due to the inability to experience sexual relief.
2You may have a hard time recognizing boundaries.
If you’re experiencing sexual repression, you may have limited knowledge about sexual desires and boundaries. Because of the lack of knowledge on the matter, you might find it difficult to establish personal boundaries with your partner. You may end up saying yes to whatever your partner wants since you have no idea about sex and simply trying to hold the connection by fulfilling their desires and neglecting your own needs.
3You may have difficulty sustaining a romantic relationship.
Lack of interest in sex can be a dealbreaker for some, especially for people who prioritize sexual compatibility in the relationship. So if you’re trying to date someone while having repressed feelings about sex, it may result in intimacy issues.
4You may have a difficult time accepting your sexual orientation.
If you only see sex as a sacred activity for heterosexual couples, you might have difficulty accepting your sexual orientation if you find yourself attracted to the same sex. You may end up struggling mentally on your end, as you’re unable to express your sexuality and fulfill your sexual needs.
5You may experience sexual performance anxiety.
Another consequence that a sexually repressed person may go through is sexual performance anxiety. It’s a condition wherein a person experiences physical and mental distress before or during sexual intercourse.
Instead of enjoying the pleasurable sensations during the activity, you may end up with discomfort or pain. Your body may not also respond properly to sexual stimulation. If you have a penis, your penis may not erect or stay erect. For a woman, you may not release enough natural lubrication or experience vaginismus due to extreme anxiety.
How to Overcome Sexual Repression
As mentioned in the previous list, sexual repression can bring difficulties in sustaining romantic relationships, accepting one’s sexual orientation, and enjoying the joys of sexual pleasure. It can bring emotional pain in the long run, so if you’re struggling with this situation, we recommend you start small steps toward healing.
You don’t have to struggle forever when it comes to owning your sexuality. Here are some suggested tips to overcome sexual repression and start living a sexually fulfilled life.
1Acknowledge that you’re sexually repressed.
Before taking any steps toward sexual liberation, you need to acknowledge your situation first. Living in denial would only make it harder for you to go through the next tips.
You also need to remember hat it’s not your fault for why you ended up being sexually repressed. It’s because of the environment you grew up in and the unexpected incident you’ve faced before.
Along with that reminder, remember that this is only a situation; it can come and go. You don’t have to live your whole life without experiencing pleasure; as long as you’re ready to work through your issues and unlearn the unhealthy beliefs about sex, you’ll soon let those repressed sexual feelings out.
2Communicate with your partner.
If you’re in a relationship, we highly recommend talking to your partner about your situation. This will prevent future conflicts regarding intimacy, as your partner now understands what you’re going through. Your partner can also be a great support person throughout your journey towards healing.
3Learn about sex through books, sex-ed blogs, and other resources.
One of the best ways to counter sexual repression is through sex education. Take some time to see vlogs, books, articles, and other resources regarding sex. We also recommend seeking and following sex-positive influencers and sex educators on social media; they regularly post content about healthy sexual practices that could help you more comfortable with sex and sexual content.
4Seek help from a counselor or therapist.
If you’re currently not in a relationship and uncomfortable sharing your situation with friends, you can find support through a counselor or sex therapist. We recommend getting someone that specializes in sex and relationships, as they’re the ones who have additional information that’s related to your situation.
Remember, it’s okay to change your therapist or counselor if you’re not comfortable with them. Sharing intimate details about your repressed feelings isn’t easy, so you need to be with someone you can fully trust.
5Engage in mindful masturbation.
Another great way to overcome sexual repression is by getting comfortable with your body and sexual self. This can be done through mindful masturbation, a form of self-pleasure wherein you spend a dedicated time touching and worshiping your body.
Instead of masturbating for the sake of an orgasm, mindful masturbation focused more on feeling yourself and getting in tune with your body. This practice involves nothing but a bottle of lube; external stimulators such as erotic video aren’t allowed, as you’re supposed to be focused on yourself. We recommend checking out the suggested article below to learn more about this healthy form of self-love.
Sexual repression can hinder you from reaching the blissful pleasure that you deserve. We know it’s challenging to let go of the conservative notions about sex or past traumatic experiences, but if you want to fully explore your sensual self, you need to free those sexual thoughts and feelings. It’s natural to have sensual urges, pal. Go ahead and experience pleasure; you deserve to lead a sexually fulfilling life.