In the perfect sexual scenario you and your partner are alone. Burning desire builds, clothes come off and you go at it passionately. All you can hear is Prince as a sultry vibe in the background. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case (and music isn't the only thing you'll hear). At any given moment, something can go wrong. In fact, sex is chock-full of opportunities for awkwardness to prevail. So what can you do to survive the embarrassment? Here are 10 things that can happen to you during sex — and how you can bounce back from them.
1. Loss of an Erection
If you’re a guy in the middle of some between-the-sheets action, your major player might spontaneously decide to take a time-out. Try not to sweat it. Erectile issues are more common than you think. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, almost all adult men have had problems getting or keeping an erection at one time or another.
"Sometimes, stress can play a role," says board-certified urologist Michael Ingber, M.D. "If this is the case, try to relax. Don't put too much pressure on yourself." And be open with your partner, he says. "Perhaps regaining the erection can be a team effort." Or schedule an appointment with a sex therapist. Medications — like antidepressants — can also be to blame, Dr. Ingber adds. Talk with your doctor if you have ongoing concerns.
2. Drying Up
It’s usually pretty clear when women are “all systems go” for sexy time. But vaginal dryness can put the breaks on things. “After menopause, the vaginal tissues lose estrogen, and the vaginal mucosa (lining) becomes thinner," says Dr. Ingber. If that's the case, hormone creams or laser treatments may help. But younger women can experience this, too, and the hormones in your birth control may be putting your vagina in a menopausal state, he says.
So, what should you do? Talk with your doctor about other non-hormonal birth control methods. "And use plenty of lubrication," Dr. Ingber says. Opt for water-based lubricants that don't contain any alcohols or glycerin. "The alcohols can feel 'soothing,' but over time will cause more irritation and dryness, while the glycerin can serve as a breeding ground for yeast and other bacteria," he says.
Whether you're on your period or your guy’s penis is too big for you, vaginal bleeding can occur at the most inopportune time. But it can be especially mortifying when you or your partner’s white sheets suddenly look like a crime scene. Don’t sweat it. “This happens more frequently than you may realize," says certified sex therapist Kristie Overstreet, Ph.D. "And it’s common to feel embarrassed or horrified — especially if you are with a new partner.”
So what should you do? “If you don’t feel comfortable continuing with sex once you realize you are bleeding, excuse yourself and go clean up if you feel the need," she says. "But don’t overly apologize — because you haven’t done anything wrong. If you handle it smoothly, it’s likely your partner will as well.”
4. Getting Caught in the Act
There’s nothing like being in the heat of the moment with your partner and then getting interrupted by your kids/roommate/Aunt Betty/a stranger at a bar while you’re in a compromising position. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to bounce back from this kind of embarrassment. And it most likely means the end of your tryst.
So what’s the best thing you can do? It depends on who caught you. Elaine Swann, lifestyle and etiquette expert, offered a few solutions in an interview with Women’s Health: If it’s a relative, apologize and tell them it won’t happen again. If it’s your roommate, offer to disinfect any shared furniture that your naked body parts might have grazed. And if it’s a bar patron (or someone else in a public place), chalk it up as a crazy story you can laugh about later.
Flatulence can be a real mood killer. Yet it happens. Why? “The vaginal canal becomes engorged due to increased blood flow to the genitals, the uterus enlarges and tips up and muscles tense and relax,” says licensed sex therapist Tonya McDaniel. This creates pockets of gas in the colon, and when combined with a sexual position that puts pressure on your abdomen, it increases the likelihood you’ll pass gas, she says.
So how do you recover? “First, you should accept that it’s a normal occurrence," McDaniel says. "Next, you can either acknowledge and make light of it, or ignore it and just continue with what you were doing.” And if you’re really concerned about farting during sex, "reduce the number of carbonated beverages you consume [which adds unnecessary air into your digestive tract] and eat smaller, more frequent meals to assist in digestion," she says.
6. Accidentally Calling Your Mom
Whether you unintentionally roll over your phone or mistakenly leave your phone in your pocket, the infamous “butt dial” can potentially ruin a sex session. Especially if the lucky recipient of that call is your mom or dad.
What do you do when you recognize a familiar parental voice on the other end? “Your reaction will likely depend on the kind of relationship you have with your parents,” says sex therapist Dr. Kristie Overstreet. She says you can either call or text them afterward to apologize or ignore it and pretend it didn’t happen. “Remember, even though it’s your parents, you are an adult. And adults have sex. It’s a natural and normal act.”
Read more: 13 Answers to “Embarrassing” Sex Questions
7. Falling Asleep
How can you drift off when passion is igniting between you and your partner? Maybe you had a crazy workday. Or perhaps happy hour turned into several hours of boozy happiness. Regardless, some days can leave you so wiped out that any form of sex (including oral) sends you into a deep slumber.
So how do you recover? “First, apologize and reassure your partner that your action of falling asleep has nothing to do with them,” says Dr. Overstreet. “Let them know you are exhausted and you feel relaxed as well as comfortable with them, which led you to fall asleep. Tell them that you do enjoy having sex with them and being intimate, but you would like to go at it another time due to how tired you are. Put the focus back on you (versus them).”
8. Condom Slippage
Condoms are tricky little things. While they’re necessary to prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and babies, they don’t always stay put. They can slip off, break and get stuck inside a vagina. Sex researcher Debby Herbenick, Ph.D., told BuzzFeed, “If you’re wearing a condom and it rolls up, seems too tight or breaks, perhaps you need a bigger one. And if the condom keeps slipping off or seems roomy, you may need to go smaller.”
According to 2012 research from the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction at Indiana University, it’s actually fairly common to experience condom mishaps. They come with the territory. Just be sure to keep several condoms on hand in case you need a backup.
Read more: 9 Things You Should’ve Learned in Sex Ed
9. Calling Your Partner the Wrong Name
Say you’re having sex with Jason, but you accidentally call him “Josh.” Of course, he might be confused and possibly offended. He may even stop the action and demand who this “Josh” person is. You could say your mind was a million miles away and you just blurted out a random name. Or you could just say that it was an honest mistake and that you have no idea why you called him “Josh.”
According to a Vice interview with a professor of neuroscience and psychology at Concordia University Jim Pfaus, Ph.D., you shouldn’t feel bad about your faux pas because it’s due to Pavlovian rules (i.e., sensory [involuntary] recall). “When you’re in a state of euphoria you conjure up things that remind you of other things simply because you’re in a state that has happened before,” he says.
10. Minor Injuries
Bonking heads. Knocking knees. Leg cramps. Elbowing an eye. What sounds like a professional wrestling match could actually be just you and your partner “doing it.” And sometimes “it” causes not-so-sexy bumps, bruises and scrapes. But when you’re caught up in the moment, you’re not always concerned with executing graceful moves — which means you leave your body parts open to minor harm.
So what should you do in your less-than-agile moments? “The best reaction is to laugh it off,” says certified sex therapist Dr. Kristie Overstreet. “When people have sex, these things happen. Don’t get mad or react to your partner in a negative way. Accidents happen, so let it go, laugh it off and keep at it.”
What Do YOU Think?
Which of these things do you think are the most mortifying? Have you ever had any awkward things happen to you during sex? How did you recover? Let us know in the comments below!