Speaking of the Bedroom

Speaking of the bedroom

Whether you and your partner find it thrilling, intimidating, or even completely out of the ordinary, discussing sexual concerns and fantasies can open a variety of intimate doors. In 2017, sexual interests and trends took a wide variety of twists and turns, making it important to know at least the options available to explore. Of course, talking about sex can be awkward and embarrassing for many, but developing this communicative skill is often the key to a healthier and and more satisfying sex life.

Wanting to know the current motivations and barriers behind sexual communication, we surveyed over 1,000 Europeans and Americans about everything from their specific sexual fantasies to the ease with which they were able to communicate their sexual concerns and interests with a partner. As it turns out, some of the sexual topics respondents wanted to introduce to their partners weren’t always as easy to discuss as one may hope, yet many braved the discussion nonetheless. Continue reading to see what these people experienced and divulged.

Something to talk about

Sexual satisfaction and partner's communication skills

Regardless of gender or nationality, respondents demonstrated a positive correlation between average sexual satisfaction and their partners’ communication skills. Evidently, a possible key to being better in bed is being a better communicator. Our panel of men and women in both Europe and the U.S. revealed unequivocally that an increase in their partner’s communication skills led to an improvement in their sex lives.

Communicating better isn’t always just about talking to each other. While experts indicate that engaging in small talk and asking questions of your partner is a good way to connect, sharing experiences and listening can be equally as important. You can talk about yourself, but showing interest in what your partner has to say and utilising your listening skills play an important role too.

You want to do what

Average difficulty discussing specific sexual interests

Chatting about sex can be awkward, but some topics may be harder to breach than others. This rang particularly true for our male respondents, as men found it more difficult than women to discuss every sexual interest we covered. That said, the average respondents agreed in the escalating order of difficulty: discussing sex in general was the easiest discussion (relatively), while floating the idea of a threesome was the most difficult conversation to carry.

As it turns out, many health benefits come with a more active sex life, and it’s not uncommon to have some sexual fantasies you might be interested in trying out. While Europeans and Americans had the most difficulty bringing up having a threesome – inviting someone else into the bedroom is one of the most common sexual fantasies couples share, and having a threesome doesn't actually have to be as awkward as you might expect as long as you’re having open, honest conversation along the way.

Uncomfortable conversations

Top reasons cited for difficulty discussing sexual topics

So what makes bringing up our sexual desires so difficult? It’s not uncommon for someone to feel a fear of rejection or embarrassment when it comes to asking for what they want in bed, even in a long-term relationship. According to more than half of men (59 percent) and women (57 percent), the biggest issue was not wanting to hurt their partner’s feelings. Being sensitive to your partner’s emotions is one of the most important considerations when bringing up your nighttime activities in casual conversation, but avoiding the conversation altogether can sometimes make things worse.

Women were also ten percent more likely to cite embarrassment as a factor barring them from easy sexual discussions. Even adults who admit feeling comfortable with their sexuality can occasionally feel flustered with public exchanges focused on their sex lives. Simple facts of life like buying contraceptives or describing parts of the anatomy can create a sense of embarrassment that expands into the bedroom. To feel more comfortable tackling the talk of sex, planning out the conversation, picking the right time and place, and making sure you keep the conversation positive are just a few things that could help make bringing up the s-word with your partner just a little bit easier.

Other common reasons men and women avoided talking about sex? Being afraid of the outcome. Men were ten percent more likely to fear their partner’s response to a proposed sexual interest than women were.

What's holding us back

Bedroom talk barriers

Depending on what exactly you’re trying to bring up with your partner, there are many reasons why you might feel tongue-tied at the mere thought of a sexual conversation.

Respondents who wanted to try a new position were equally concerned about feeling judged as they were worried that things weren’t going well enough in their relationship. You may think having more sex might make you feel happier with your partner, but one study found that the quality of sex (not the quantity) is what really matters. And as this study reveals, quality positively correlates with communicative abilities.

People also found it tricky to bring up wanting to use a sex toy because their partners were too judgemental; though, research indicates using sex toys can actually be better for long-term sexual satisfaction. Embarrassment was also one of the top reasons people avoided bringing up topics like role-playing or having a threesome, and that they were afraid of the outcome when it came to bringing up anal sex.

A positive reception

Percentage of people turned on by a partner voicing bedroom desires

So let’s say you work up the courage to talk about the sex stuff that’s been on your mind – you set the mood, keep the conversation positive, and admit what you really want in bed. What happens next?

According to three-quarters of men and more than two-thirds of women, hearing their partner’s sexual desire was a turn-on. Whether it’s wanting to try something exciting and new, or just switching up where or how often you have sex, a majority of people indicated that hearing what their partners wanted in bed left them hot and bothered.

Proper communication isn’t just the key to an active sex life, it could be one of the two most important elements to establishing a happy, healthy relationship with your partner. People who were better at talking about their sex lives were rated as significantly better in bed than those who weren’t able to connect as openly.

Better conversations, better sex?

Sex life ratings compared with communication between partners

Research has shown women are more likely than men to lose interest in sex and half as likely to initiate it. According to our survey, men rated their sexual satisfaction higher than women when they talked about sex. While the average respondent indicated an improved sexual experience when they communicated better with their partners, the changed perspective was most intense amongst gay, male, and European respondents. Based on our survey, increased communication had the smallest effect on bisexual respondents and their quality of sex life.

Women reported a relatively lower connection between communication skills and sexual experiences. In truth, more than one in three young to middle-aged women experience sexual dysfunction, though you might not know it based on treatment options or media advertisements. Sexual dysfunction for women can include a loss of desire, pain during sex, and trouble reaching orgasm. Thankfully, a registered GP may be able to recommend treatment solutions depending on your needs to help alleviate the stress and embarrassment of these conditions.


Women may be more likely to get embarrassed talking about sex, and men may find the conversation more difficult – but for everyone, sexual frustration can leave us feeling more irritable, less patient,. Committing to better sex communication won’t just make you feel better between the sheets; it can help improve your day-to-day mood.Regardless of your sexual preference, relationship status, or even your favourite sexual fantasies – sex health should never get between you and your sexual satisfaction. At ZAVA, we provide safe, regulated online care that is available from the comfort of your own home. With our registered general practitioners and approved medications and products, you can find care for everything from STI treatments to sexual dysfunction and contraception. Visit us online at zavamed.com to learn more.


We surveyed roughly 500 Americans and 500 Europeans for a total of over 1,000 respondents. We asked participants questions about intimacy and related communication (anonymously, of course). We also gathered their demographic information to determine differences between generations, genders, and nationalities.

Fair use statement

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