Sticky Sex Situations

Medically Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on June 30, 2014
From the WebMD Archives

Awkward sexual moments don’t end with your teen years. Even the most secure adults may find themselves tongue-tied or at a loss for what to do sometimes.

Here are six common scenes that may fluster you (or someone else), and graceful ways to get out of them.

Caught in the Act

Getting caught during a delicate moment, whether you’re solo or with a partner, is common.

“It’s best to address your embarrassment head-on,” says Carole Lieberman, MD, a psychiatrist in Beverly Hills. A light response can work wonders -- something like, “Oh, I thought I was going to have some private time here,” or, “We thought we were alone.”

Get caught by your kids? “Young children, in particular, may interpret sexual situations as Mommy and Daddy fighting, so it’s important to quickly let your child know that you are playing,” says Lieberman. Older children are more clued into what’s going on and respond better to, "We were showing our love for each other, and you'll understand better when you grow up.”

Your Partner Has a Fetish

If your partner makes a freaky request, ask yourself: Are you ashamed to do it? Is it unsafe? If the answer is no to both, “it’s worthwhile to be open-minded and willing to try it,” Lieberman says.

Before you start, discuss what it is you don’t like about the idea, and consider having a "safe word" that lets your partner know it’s time to stop. Knowing you can call a halt when you want to may even help you enjoy it.

You Can’t Get Aroused

These issues are normal. If you don’t make a fuss about them, chances are, your partner won’t either.

“Hormonal changes and even cycle changes can cause a lack of vaginal moisture in women. It’s incredibly helpful to have a lubricant on hand,” says Lauren Streicher, MD. She's a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University. Streicher says silicone-based products last longer than water-based versions (and as a result, require fewer “breaks” during sex).

Men may lose their erection during or after putting on a condom. Streicher’s advice? “Use a female condom instead. It offers protection from STDs, is made from a very, very thin, lubricated material that doesn’t decrease sensation, and in most cases, eliminates erection problems.”

If problems don’t stop, though, seek a doctor’s help.

Hooking Up With a Co-Worker

One in four people say they’ve had a fling with a work colleague. Whether it’s a one-night stand or the start of something serious, your other co-workers may figure it out.

“Be professional at the office, because you want to avoid the appearance of favoritism,” says Amy Nicole Salvaggio, PhD. She's an associate professor of psychology at the University of New Haven who studies workplace romance. If things between you sour, she says, “don’t unload your emotions on other co-workers. The degree to which you [stay calm] will go a long way toward minimizing damage to your career or reputation.”

It’s That Time of the Month

Period sex can be messy, so ask your partner if they're comfortable with that, Streicher says.

“If you want to go for it, there’s no need to feel ashamed about bringing it up,” says Amber Madison, a New York City-based relationship therapist. “Say, 'I would love to have sex with you every day of the month. Would you like to try having sex during my/your period?' Chances are, your partner will say yes.”

Sex With Your Ex

Proceed with caution. “It’s rarely ‘just sex,’ as people often tell themselves,” Lieberman says. “In most cases, one partner is hoping to get back together, while the other is enjoying the comfort of having sex with a familiar person. Someone is bound to get hurt.”

Have a frank talk with your ex before you slip between the sheets.

Regrets after you’ve sealed the deal? Honesty is the best policy, Madison says, provided you’re kind about it. (“I had a wonderful time but don’t want to rekindle our relationship.”)

Show Sources


Carole Lieberman, MD, clinical faculty member, Neuropsychiatric Institute, University of California, Los Angeles.

Lauren Streicher, MD, clinical professor, obstetrics and gynecology, Northwestern University; author, Love Sex Again: A Gynecologist Finally Fixes the Issues That Are Sabotaging Your Sex Life, It Books, 2014.

Society for Human Resource Management: “Workplace Romance.”

Amy Nicole Salvaggio, PhD, associate professor of psychology, University of New Haven, New Haven, CT.

Amber Madison, MA, relationship therapist, New York.

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