Dealing with sex anxiety when you're living with HIV

sex anxiety - positive peers

Anxiety can really mess up your sex life. One second everything’s hot and steamy, but then for some reason you start worrying about something going wrong and the next thing you know you’re focusing on that more than bae, and the mood’s ruined.

Getting back in the saddle after an HIV diagnosis can be challenging, but there’s no reason your status should get in the way of a healthy sex life. You know that your partner will be fine if you take your meds as prescribed, but following doctors’ orders only addresses the infection — not your brain’s response to it.

So even though your brain knows that if you’re undetectable you can’t transmit HIV, you might hear a nagging voice in the back of your head saying “but what if…” And, that’s what ruins the mood.

To have a healthy sex life, you need to be able to go with the flow — making your partner feel good and letting them return the favor. When anxiety shuts off the faucet of sexy goodness, we’ve got a problem.

Let’s look at how you can fix that faucet and get back to business.  🙂

sex anxiety - positive peers

Understanding what anxiety is

So, what exactly is anxiety? For a lot of people it’s that non-stop worried feeling that you can’t get rid of, constantly overthinking, and always assuming the worst will happen. Sometimes, it can be frequent headaches, panic, attacks, and depression. Basically, anxiety is your body’s reaction — or overreaction — to stress.

There’s a whole bunch of things that cause anxiety, like:

  • Stress at work
  • Stress from school
  • Stress in your relationships
  • Stress from finances
  • Stress from an emotional trauma such as the death of a loved one

And that’s separate from the stress of living with HIV.

So, deal with stress and sex anxiety goes away, right? Not exactly — there are all kinds of stress and all kinds of responses. Sometimes stress makes people think they can see the future — if they gaze into their mental crystal ball and see only danger ahead, they experience anxiety.


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Preparing yourself to defeat anxiety

If you think too much while you’re having sex, you can ruin the mood. Preparing yourself mentally is like taking a bunch of practice shots before the big game. How do you prepare?

  • Get educated. Read up on the myths about HIV that cause anxiety. This will empower you to understand what’s a risk and what isn’t so you don’t have to worry about things going wrong.
  • Make yourself feel sexy. Go to the gym, put on some makeup, do something with your hair, throw yourself a private Beyoncé dance party — do whatever it takes to make you feel good about yourself and your ability to be a fantastic sex partner. Exercise and eating right do more than help your figure: They can also help you reduce stress!
  • Make sure it’s not medical. Talk to your doctor; some medications may cause anxiety as a side effect. Also, if you experience anxiety all the time, your doctor might be able to prescribe an anti-anxiety medicine.

sex anxiety - positive peers

Building your self-confidence

Talk to your HIV support group about your anxiety issues. Everybody’s been through it, and they all have their tactics for dealing with it. You might learn some new tips for dealing with your anxiety before sexy time, and you know your support group will listen to you and be there for you.

Remind yourself that anxiety sends false messages — warning you of disaster when nobody knows what the future holds.

Self-confidence shuts down the voice of doom and replaces it with the voice that says “relax, you got this.” Score small wins and build your confidence and soon you will slay the anxiety beast.

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