There are lots of potential awkward moments during sex. Strange noises, your period arriving unexpectedly, realising you’ve picked the wrong person to sleep with (half-way through). One of my biggest awkward moments happened when I put myself in a position that made my back feel uncomfortable. My sexual partner hastily got up and lost interest, despite me comfortably repositioning myself. In different ways, scoliosis has affected my sex life.
What exactly is scoliosis?
The condition basically means your spine twists and curves (to varying degrees depending on severity). According to NHS Inform, around three or four in every 1,000 children will need treatment.
As my curve was severe, I’ve had multiple surgeries . This involved titanium rods being screwed to my spine; my ribs were shaved down on one side to act as a bone graft.
Overcoming what it means to be ‘good’ in bed
While there’s no doubt the image of my spine has caused insecurity issues, scoliosis really affected my sex life by making me question my ability to perform sexually. Though I can exercise and live day-to-day with little regard for my condition, I’m aware that there’s a level of flexibility I’m unable to reach due to my spinal fusion surgery (attaching the rods to my spine).
Perhaps that’s why I delayed ever having sex for so long; sub-consciously aware I could encounter problems. My fears on sexual performance felt verified when I was with the person who instantly got up when I needed to adjust my back so slightly. I could sense how uneasy they felt about my curvature.
I’m now luckily in a relationship where I don’t have to worry about my boyfriend suddenly being put off by my back.
If you have a physical condition or a bedroom performance fear like mine, don’t worry, it’s less about ‘skills’ and more about confidence. The best lovers are the ones who aren’t afraid to communicate their desires, they’re not afraid to explore, and they’re eager to both satisfy and be satisfied. (Plus, they understand the need for foreplay). All these traits are mental obstacles that you can overcome with practice. I do have these guides if you’re interested:
Since working on these issues, I’ve come to believe I’m great in bed because I’m happier in myself and I know there’s lots of ways to excite and be wild without breaking into the splits. If I’m in a position now where my back begins to ache, I’ll simply move on and try something different.
How do you get over insecurities during sex?
In 2019, NY Post reported on a survey that found ‘10 percent of women “never feel confident” about their body or ability during sex, compared to just 3 percent of men’. Oprah magazine noted how the percentage of women unhappy with their bodies more than doubled between 1972 and 1997.
Sexual imagery has increased over the past few decades and we’re bombarded with specific physical ideals. A friend of mine (let’s call her Rochelle) spoke to me about how she doesn’t see herself as a sexual woman because she feels too unattractive and flabby (her words). This put her off wanting to have sex – each time she took her clothes off in front of someone else, her hang-ups occupied her mind and made climaxing difficult.
The appearance of my back has affected my sex life due to increasing low self-image issues, but I’ve found ways to ways work with it.
Don’t make a big deal
You want someone to not care about something – well, don’t care about it either. If you don’t make a big thing out of your insecurities, chances are your partner won’t. And that will help you learn to accept yourself.
The more you associate sex with pleasure and fun, the less you’re going to worry about how you look physically. I recommend bringing props and toys into the bedroom that can help you divert your attention away from your body image.
Focus attention on your good bits
I’ve come to terms with how my back looks, but I know it’s not my best feature. At the beginning of my relationship, I made sure to wear outfits to bed that highlighted my favourite body parts. Gradually, I’ve become more comfortable in my skin and I’ve stopped worrying about how my back looks.
Maintain high standards in who you sleep with
The right sexual partner (whether it’s a girlfriend/boyfriend or a one-night stand) will respect you and your body. They’ll be keen to enjoy all of you – they’ll be focusing on how incredible you figure looks – how excited you make them feel. You cannot feel confident in bed if you’re dating someone who continually points out hot people on Instagram or someone who critiques your image.
Make a big deal out of it
On the flipside (but in the right way), they say the best way to overcome fear is to tackle it head on. If you’re feeling brave, put yourself in a position that purposely highlights the body part you’re most insecure about. Whether that’s going on top and showing off your curves and stomach or doing reverse cowgirl and flaunting your butt. Find ways to associate your insecurities with positive sexual thoughts.
How scoliosis affected my sex life
Overall, my spinal curvature means I don’t have a ‘normal’ looking back, my waist is uneven and from my rib removal, one side of my waist can come together to look like excess skin. With that said, I do what I can to take care of my body. I’m a big advocate for sexual wellness and make my sexual pleasure an important priority. I remind myself daily that I’m my own body ideal and only I have the power to set new standards for myself.
If you’re feeling insecure (in the same way I felt about my scoliosis), realise that your biggest challenge is you. Stop worrying – we only have one sex life. Sometimes you have to just dive in and let yourself find freedom from self-doubt the moment it starts to niggle in your brain.