11 Best Ways To Overcome Sexual Shame (2024)

This guide reveals 11 of the best ways to eliminate feelings of sexual shame from your life and begin enjoying sex with your chosen partner.  

In my role as a life coach, I am often helping people overcome their fears, traumas and mental blocks. 

That’s why I’m keen to share this guide with you. 

So, let’s dive in. 

Where Does Sexual Shame Come From? 

When it comes to our sexual self, feelings of shame can originate in our lives from many places. 

Let’s explore some of the most common roots of sexual shame. 


A lot of beliefs about what is good, bad, exciting or shameful are instilled in us as children. During our initial years especially, our personalities are extremely susceptible to being moulded by how our parents treat us.

It’s common that we’ll be scolded for touching our genitals at one or two years old. Don’t underestimate the pain this can cause to a child of that age. They’re being taught that touching their body causes anger among their loved ones. This can be the beginning of experiencing their shame surrounding sex – and we can easily carry such moments into adulthood.

If you’re born into a family which believes that sex is shameful, it’s incredibly common that you’ll be ashamed of any sexual thoughts or desires that you’ll surely experience. 

If your family is too conservative to even talk about sex, you could end up very confused and more likely to be manipulated by bad representations of sex elsewhere (more on that shortly). 

Culture And Society-At-Large

Women are often shamed for experiencing sexual desires outside of a relationship, or in some cultures, outside of marriage.

This isn’t just in the highly conservative cultures of Asia and The Middle East either.

Even in the highly liberal Western culture, women are commonly subjected to shaming.

In some cultures, women are taught that sexual inexperience and purity is a virtue that makes them more valuable.

This can lead some women to experience shame for expressing any element of their sexuality. 

Exposure To Explicit Movies

Explicit movies are unrealistic portrayals of sex. Sadly, more men and women consume such material over the internet when they’re too inexperienced to understand this. This can create unrealistic expectations and feelings of shame surrounding their bodies or being not good at sex. It causes people to associate sex as a performance solely for pleasure, rather than an act of intimacy between two lovers.  

Maybe people become insecure about their genitals or other parts of their bodies. Perhaps they become ashamed of not wanting to engage in the extreme sexual activity that movies normalize.

These thoughts can lead to performance anxiety, dysfunction, or other problems. 

Sexual Shame
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Sexual Shame: Sexual Orientation And Kinks

We’ve made incredible progress, but there are still parts of the world ready to shame people for their sexual orientation.

If a person has a kink they deem to be out of the ordinary, it’s common to feel sexual shame around that as well.  

Sexual Shame Religion

Religion plays a key role in sexual shame for a lot of people.

Certain religions say that having a same sex partner is sinful, for example. Others say sex outside of marriage is sinful.

Even if you’re not religious, perhaps it’s easy to why one would be ashamed of experiencing sexual desires which their religious beliefs say they’ll go to hell for.  

Sexual Shame: Trauma

If a man or woman was a victim of sexual assault, or involved in some other past experiences with emotionally traumatic sexual activity, this can lead them to experience sexual shame. 

Sexual Abuse And Shame

In this case, the shame often surrounds their inability to stop the traumatic incident from happening. They might have been made to feel that they deserved to be abused.  

It can also lead to them being ashamed of desiring or enjoying sex, when sex has been established as something terrible and wrong in their mind. 

A big reason why shame historically follows sexual abuse so often is that few victims speak about it. As such, those who have fallen prey to sexual assault often end up feeling like outsiders. Maybe they’re the only person they know who has suffered like this. Society has made great steps to improve this issue though, perhaps most notably with the rise of the MeToo movement. 

Healing Sexual Shame

It has been proven possible to heal sexual shame in all of these situations and more.

Below, you’ll discover 11 of the best ways to overcome sexual shame.  

1. Acknowledge Something Is Wrong

If you can acknowledge your inability to enjoy sexual feelings as something you should be able to feel, that’s a great first step.

It’s somewhat common to experience shame about sex, but this isn’t something you need to accept about yourself. 

2. Journal

Journaling is a great exercise to help you understand where your feelings of shame about sex are coming from.

Whenever you begin to experience uncomfortable emotions around sex, commit to journaling about this moment later. What happened? Why did you feel uncomfortable? Are there moments in the past you can relate these feelings to? 

Getting these thoughts and feelings on paper can help you identify the root of your sexual shame, which is key to overcoming it.  

3. Spend Time With Helpful People And Media

If you’ve concluded that certain individuals play a big role in your shame about sex, please know that cutting them out of your life will be a huge help.

Of course, this is not always desirable or possible, in the case of family members or religious institutions for example. 

At the very least though, you should make an effort to involve yourself in a community where sexual shame does not exist.

This could be as simple as watching YouTube channels, following social media pages, or engaging with certain subreddits where your brand of sexual shame is celebrated.

It might involve spending more time talking with trusted friends who have the same opinions on sex as you, or are at least willing to listen without shaming you. 

4. Masturbation

Masturbation can be an initial step in the right direction, easing you away from sexual shame and towards an unspoiled enjoyable sex life. 

It gives you the space to identify as a sexual being and understand what forms of sexual pleasure you enjoy, without any fear of judgment.

5. Focus On Finding A Trusted And Supportive Partner

If you have a sexual partner who makes you feel ashamed of your sexual desires, end that relationship. 

If you have a partner who isn’t supportive or is rushing you into certain sexual acts, they need to either stop this or stop being in a relationship with you.

Healthy relationships are key to overcoming shame surrounding sex. During this time, it’s best to only have sexual partners who you can trust to be patient and understanding with you. Casual sex outside of loving relationships should be off the table for now.

This is especially true if your sexual shame surrounds body insecurity or an inability to feel attractive. 

6. Work On Your Self-Love

Your relationship with yourself affects your relationship with sex. Self-love will positively impact your ability to enjoy sex and be proud of your sexuality. Self-hatred can negatively impact it. 

Some forms of sexual shame convince sufferers that they don’t deserve sexual pleasure. Self-love exercises can definitely help people turn that opinion around. 

Related Content: Expert Hacks To Love Yourself

7. Stop Shaming Others

Sexual shame can be a hot potato that hurts to hold, so you can’t help but pass it on to other people.

Commit to letting go of this habit. 

Your goal is to create a reality where sexual shame doesn’t exist. Shaming others is counterproductive to that. 

8. Be Present, Be Mindful 

When we feel shame and trauma, it can be a struggle to stay present. This shame can dominate our thoughts and make it impossible to stay in the present moment.

This is far from ideal; the ability to remain present is key for anyone to truly enjoy sex with their partner.

If you can regularly practice these exercises to empty your mind, you may find it easier to enjoy intimacy with your partner, rather than being stuck in an internal conversation with the inner voice that shames you. 

10. Sexual Shame: An Urgent Call To Healing

Sexual Shame: An Urgent Call to Healing is a highly-regarded book by Karen A. McClintock with more ideas about overcoming sexual shame.

You can absolutely use books – as well as social media pages, YouTube videos and trusted friends – as part of your efforts to create a shame-free world for yourself.  

11. Sexual Shame Therapy

A huge downside of feeling shame is that it stops people from seeking help when they need it most.

Therapists are fully qualified to help clients understand what their sexual shame refers to and assist them along the path of overcoming feelings of shame.

Your sex therapist will be able to help you understand the narrative of sex you’ve created for yourself, and also how to re-write a healthier narrative.   

12. You Don’t Deserve Shame

It’s important to understand: there are no benefits to feeling shame.

Whereas guilt can motivate us to improve our behavior, shame simply makes us feel awful about ourselves.

There is no reason for any person to feel shame, particularly sexual shame. It is natural for any person to have sexual feelings. We are only made to feel ashamed about these by negative experiences that occur in our lives.

As a human, you deserve the freedom to express your desires. You deserve to be confident and excited and free to experience sexual pleasure the way you choose (provided you’re not hurting anyone else, of course). 

When we explore and embrace our sexual selves, we discover parts of us that make us the most unique. And there is nothing wrong with having unique feelings of sexual desire either.

With that in mind, I hope you use these tips for unlearning shame, if only so you can feel comfortable in your body and gain a sense of self-confidence about who you are.    


Thanks for reading my guide on overcoming feelings of shame about sex.

I hope you can identify with some of the points and that it taught you something useful about how you may be feeling. 

More importantly, I hope you’re feeling prepared to start enjoying a sex life free from pain, guilt, fear or shame.   

About The Author

Bijan Kholghi is a certified life coach with the Milton Erickson Institute Heidelberg (Germany). He helps clients and couples reach breakthroughs in their lives by changing subconscious patterns. His solution-oriented approach is based on Systemic- and Hypnotherapy.