Credit: HBO

One thing about sex that you and your friends probably talk about all the time is how awkward it can sometimes be. You can be totally into getting down with a partner and feel good about yourself when suddenly a mood-killing thought pops into your head. Maybe it’s something random and distracting, but often these thoughts center around wondering if we’re doing it “right,” or if we look as hot as we want to, or if our partner will think we’re insane if we ask for something we want in bed.

Basically, self-doubt in sexual situations can be a *huge* problem.

In the spirit of figuring this whole mess out, HelloGiggles went right to the best place for digging up personal, private, and sometimes embarrassing secrets: the internet. We asked women if they were willing to share how they got over insecurities in bed and found out that pretty much everyone worries about something when they’re having sex.

It’s hard to talk about insecurities in bed, but it’s also pretty liberating when you do. Instead of being scared to talk about body image, sexual and gender identity, or the inane worries we have about our vaginas, the best way to improve your sex life is to stop being so scared of judgement. If you’ve ever felt insecure in bed, you’re not alone.

Performance issues are not just for men.

Bronwyn, a 31-year-old copywriter from London, told HelloGiggles that she used to worry about performance before she found a regular partner who respected her needs.

She added, “I’ve prioritized my own pleasure more than I ever did. I don’t fake it anymore, either. I just make sure he participates when I masturbate if I don’t get on from sex.”

Katie, 35 years old, said that watching porn helped her get over her insecurities in bed. Yes, really. She said:

Katie added that she understands people might think it’s odd that she was empowered by porn. She told HelloGiggles, “Yeah, most of it was for the male viewer I guess and some could say it objectified women but I saw it as really empowering. Also being queer it helped me to see women being with women. It wasn’t about the men, it was about girls being sexual, and enjoying it.”

We also learned that a lot of women worry about their vaginas.

M., 30 years old, told HelloGiggles that she worried about how her vagina looked. “I just worry that it doesn’t look like anyone else’s,” she says. M added that the fear subsides once she sees that her partners are into it, but it still haunts her with new partners each and every time — so she just reminds herself that everything about her is perfect, no matter what.

Kara, 32 years old, also felt that her vagina was disappointing her partners. “I used to be really uncomfortable with oral sex and would spend way too much time wondering if it smelled OK or what it tasted like instead of letting myself relax and enjoy it,” she said.

She added that it wasn’t until she came out as bisexual and started sleeping with women that she realized how much time she had been wasting with worry.

“I think coming out as your authentic self is the only way to even begin having better sex,” she told HG.

Body image is no joke for most women.

Zaina, 24, said that she got over her body image issues by taking a burlesque class and going skinny dipping. Both things helped her feel at home in her own skin, she said.

Catie, 27, told us:

Preach, Catie, preach.

Bronwyn also felt that her body wasn’t up to par. She used to wonder if her boobs looked “saggy” or if her pubic hair was on point. She used to wonder during sex,”Do I look sexy?”

So how did she stop worrying about her looks while getting busy? By remembering that everyone is different, basically. “I work really hard not to compare myself to other women, too. I’ve really come to realize that everyone has their own tastes,” she said.

Others learned to speak up for what they want.

Jo, 25, is still figuring out what it means to be gender fluid, but most of their sexual experiences are as a femme-identifying person. They were very lucky: Their first partner was all about sex positivity and talking about needs. But then, especially as Jo started to think about gender and sexual identity, something happened: Other partners didn’t even know where the clitoris was. Jo said:

Jo adds, “I also feel like I had to do a lot of internal work letting go of heteronormative ideas of what sex should “look” like. Sex doesn’t always have to mean penetration or even oral sex. And it might be done in a few minutes or it might go on for a few hours and take a lot of “actually could you do it this way?” and that’s OK.”

Emily, 33, told HelloGiggles that she had a similar experience when a recent ex shamed her for asking for certain things in bed. “I had a really unhealthy, damaging sexual relationship with my most recent ex that’s left me pretty insecure. I’ve since decided that anyone who doesn’t want to venture into freaky-town can get off the train right away,” she says.

So what did she do?

She adds, “It seems harsh, but it makes me feel like a f*cking evolved bad ass.”

In addition, she says she gives herself a little homework before meeting someone new.

“Also, I do push ups and crunches before every date so I feel strong and sexy.”

Whatever works, right?

For many women, it seems that getting over insecurities in bed — whatever they may be — has more to do with accepting themselves than anything their partner can do for them. Just remember that your body is perfect, and you deserve to have the kind of sex you want, every time. Get it.