Sexual inhibition

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A sexual inhibition is a conscious or subconscious constraint or curtailment by a person of behavior relating to specific sexual matters or practices, a discussion of sexual matters or viewing certain sexual material. To some extent such inhibitions may arise from cultural and social influences and conditioning, as well as from personal factors, including sexual orientation. In most partner relationships, the level of inhibition tends to decrease the higher the level of trust that develops between the partners. Such inhibitions also tend to decrease with improvements in a person's confidence in their sexuality. A person may take a drug, such as alcohol, to reduce their level of inhibition.

Though a person can be regarded as being sexually inhibited if they irrationally fear or are excessively averse to any sexual practice or discourse, the term is normally not applied to a person who refrains from certain sexual activities on moral and rational grounds (such as desire to avoid pregnancy or contracting a disease) or due to a psychological disorder. A person may also refrain from sexual activity with a particular person by choice or because of a simple disliking of that particular activity or person, for whatever reason. The person whose advances are rejected may dismiss the rejection as being due to sexual inhibition.

On the other hand, a person may be regarded as having low sexual inhibitions when they welcome a variety of non-conventional erotic practices. Hypersexuality is typically associated with lowered sexual inhibitions, and alcohol and some drugs can affect a person's social and sexual inhibitions.


Some inhibitions are expressed in terms of preferences for specific sexual practices and may be based on cultural attitudes. For example, cultural attitudes toward oral sex range from aversion to high regard.[1] It has been considered taboo, or at least discouraged, in many cultures and parts of the world,[1] especially with regard to fellatio.[2] People give various reasons for their dislike of oral sex.[1] Some state that since it does not result in reproduction, it is therefore unnatural.[3] Others find it less intimate because it is not a face-to-face practice,[1] or believe that it is a humiliating or unclean practice;[1][4] that it is humiliating or unclean are opinions that are, in some cases, connected with the symbolism attached to different parts of the body.[4]

Sexual inhibitions among female same-sex sexual relationships have also been studied. The belief that all women who have sex with women engage in oral sex (i.e., cunnilingus) is a misconception; some lesbian or bisexual women dislike cunnilingus due to not liking the experience or due to psychological or social factors, such as finding it unclean.[5][6][7][8] Other lesbian or bisexual women believe that it is a necessity or largely defines lesbian sexual activity.[7][8] Lesbian couples are more likely to consider a woman's dislike of cunnilingus as a problem than heterosexual couples are, and it is common for them to seek therapy to overcome inhibitions regarding it.[7]

A female who cannot conceive by normal means and requires assistance to conceive may be constrained by social and sexual inhibitions and taboos from accepting a sperm donor or a friend to perform an intravaginal insemination, and the friend may be similarly inhibited; the friend may opt instead for the more expensive and arduous artificial insemination.

A fear of being nude in front of others can be regarded as a sexual inhibition[citation needed]. Some people feel uncomfortable being nude in front of another person, even in private with their sex partner. For example, a person may feel comfortable being nude only during a sexual activity, and then only with subdued lighting, or covered by a sheet or blanket.[9] Some people decline medical examinations that involve disrobing.[citation needed] In an interview in March 2007, Halle Berry said that her toplessness in Swordfish (2001) was "gratuitous" to the movie, but that she needed to do the scene to get over her fear of nudity, and that it was the best thing she did for her career. Having overcome her inhibitions, she went on to a role in Monster's Ball, which included a nude scene.[10] In 2002, Eva Green in her first film role needed director Bernardo Bertolucci's guidance during the filming of the nude and sex scenes in The Dreamers (2003), but was embarrassed when her family saw the film.[11] Some actresses prefer not to expose their bodies to others and use a body double even for exposure of breasts.[12][13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Janell L. Carroll (2009). Sexuality Now: Embracing Diversity. Cengage Learning. pp. 265–267. ISBN 978-0-495-60274-3. Retrieved August 29, 2013.
  2. ^ "The History of Fellatio" Archived 2006-05-24 at the Wayback Machine,, May 22, 2000.
  3. ^ Buschmiller, Rev. Robert. "Oral Sex in Marriage". Presentation Ministries. Archived from the original on November 28, 2010. Retrieved July 24, 2010.
  4. ^ a b Pina-Cabral, Joao de (1992). "Tamed Violence: Genital Symbolism is Portuguese popular culture". Man. N.S. 28 (1): 101–120. doi:10.2307/2804438. JSTOR 2804438.
  5. ^ Belge, Kathy. "Do All Lesbians Like Oral Sex?". Retrieved 3 June 2012.
  6. ^ Naomi B. McCormick (1994). Sexual Salvation: Affirming Women's Sexual Rights and Pleasures. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 207. ISBN 978-0-275-94359-2. Retrieved 18 April 2012.
  7. ^ a b c Ginny Vida; Karol D. Lightner; Tanya Viger (2010). The New Our Right to Love: A Lesbian Resource Book. Simon and Schuster. p. 74. ISBN 978-0-684-80682-2. Retrieved 18 April 2012.
  8. ^ a b Jerry J. J. Bigner; Joseph L. L. Wetchler (2012). Handbook of LGBT-Affirmative Couple and Family Therapy. Routledge. p. 102. ISBN 978-1-136-34032-1. Retrieved 18 April 2012.
  9. ^ Sexual Behavior in the Human Female: By the Staff of the Institute for Sex Research, Indiana University, Alfred C. Kinsey ... [et al.] ; with a New Introduction by John Bancroft. Indiana University Press, 1998. ISBN 0-253-33411-X
  10. ^ Jam Showbiz Movies, 22 March 2007: Halle Berry bares her soul[usurped]
  11. ^ Stealing beauty, a February 2004 article from The Guardian
  12. ^ Harris, Richard Jackson (1 April 1999). A Cognitive Psychology of Mass Communication. Lawrence Erlbaum. ISBN 0-8058-3088-X. Retrieved 11 September 2009. ... the use of body doubles, even for attractive stars, is common. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)
  13. ^ Jeffries, Stuart (26 January 2007). "He's the Bond girl, not me". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 27 August 2007.