There are many ways that sexual desire can be blocked and having pain during sex is certainly one of them. And when there’s pain it would make sense that your desire to want to be intimate is going to float away like a balloon. The reason for this is that we avoid pain as humans at a primal level of protection (unless you are playing with pain as a way to access pleasure, such as a good smack on the butt). Since it’s important to have sex from a good, positive and pleasurable place we want to take any unwanted pain out of the picture. To start your process, make sure to as these five crucial questions so that you can begin to take the pain out of the picture and reclaim your pleasure.
Am I Jumping Into Sex Without Transition Time?
As a woman, your mind needs time for your brain to transition into the idea of physical and sexual intimacy. That means, you need to make sure you attend to your mind with helpful transitions from outside the bedroom to inside the bedroom so your desire has a chance. If you are in go, go, go mode during the day and then hop, skip over to the bedroom at night then your mind is likely still on that work project that you’ve been working on. If you don’t allow you mind enough time to transition so that you are open and your desire has the chance to build, then you are naturally going to be less open to the experience. If this is the case then your mind being distracted will cause your body to no hop on board with the experience.
If your body doesn’t get a chance for arousal to build because your mind wasn’t on board at the beginning of the sexual experience, then this means your body won’t be guided along with the arousal experience and no lubrication will happen as a result. No lubrication = ouch! Make sure to attend to your brain before heading to the bedroom for Intentional Intimacy time so that your mind and body are more prepared, which will help eliminate lack of transition time being the contributing factor of your pain in sex.
Do I Have Enough Time for My Arousal to Build?
Many women often worry that they are “taking too long” and to this, I say you are likely not giving yourself enough time! For women, it can take about 15-20 minutes for arousal to really build in our bodies. What many couples run into is not allowing enough time for this process. They may kiss and touch for a couple of minutes and then dive right into penetration. But as a woman, your desire is like a fine course meal and that takes time to prep. Female desire isn’t something you can pop into the microwave and have within a matter of 2 minutes. Not giving your body time to warm up will mean it won't be ready for penetration, although remember that sexual intimacy doesn’t have to lead to penetration every time. With less time to build your arousal then, you guessed it, no lubrication and that means increased chance of pain.
Keep in mind that even if you are making sure you are helping your desire by transitioning into the bedroom and giving yourself enough time for your arousal to build, you still may not have a lot of natural lubrication so that penetration can be a smooth, pain-free experience. This can happen at different times in your period cycle, as a result of medications, or even menopause. If this is the case, a good bit of lube can go a long way! There is no shame in using lube and it can be a helpful assistant to your experience.
Is My Body Tension In Life Generally High?
With your life inside and outside the bedroom being highly connected given that the majority of women have a responsive desire, you want to make sure that if you are having pain in sex that you first start outside the bedroom and consider how your overall tension is in your body. If you are a high-achiever like me then you are likely at a constant go go go but without any counter-relaxation and self-care and self-love, then this high stress will manifest as high tension in your body.
When our bodies as humans are tense and stressed then our fight or flight response increases. And at a primal level, stress could mean danger and this means your body is going to want to protect the most vulnerable parts of yourself - your pelvic region. This tension is created in the pubococcygeus muscle or PC muscle, which forms your supportive pelvic floor. Stop and take a moment right now and bring your attention to your pelvic region. Is it super-duper tense right now? Can you even notice and feel this part of you? Can you take a big deep breath, squeeze the muscles, and then let the air and muscles go to allow this part of your body relax? Making sure you are not holding any unwanted tension in your body from life stressors will help you when you move into the bedroom and to have a pleasurable experience.
Do I Need Some Medical Help?
Sometimes the overall tension of life (or also past traumas) combined with repeated painful sexual experiences, then the tightening of the PC muscles is so much so that relaxation is never felt. This means your muscle tightness and resulting pain needs more than just relaxation techniques to reduce overall stress and tension. If this is the case, seeking out a Pelvic Floor Therapist can be an essential step in your path to eliminating pain and feeling neutral, if not even pleasure, during sex. A Pelvic Floor Therapist will help you with the muscles that are contracted and shortened from tightness by releasing the tension through trigger points, stretches and massage.
When the pain in sex is less about the muscle tightness or lack of lubrication, then you want to consider if a medical doctor needs to step in to assist. For example, if your pain in sex is more like a burning sensation or even maybe stinging, stabbing, irritation or rawness then you may have something called Interstitial Cystitis, which is a bladder condition that can cause sexual pain. An experience of pain in penetration can also be because your vaginal walls have thinning, drying and inflammation caused by low estrogen, which can be due to menopause or even your medication like your birth control. It’s best to see a doctor as soon as possible in your pain experience so you can rule out if anything medical is going on and so you can get the help you need ASAP.
Do I Need A Sex Therapist to Help With My Pain?
A Sex Therapist trained in helping with women’s sexual experiences, including pain, can help be super helpful for you. Not only helpful but essential. The reason for this is although a medical reason or even a lack of time given to your arousal may be at the root of where your pain originated, you're likely caught in a negative feedback loop. This loop is created between the mind and body. When your body experiences pain in sex then your inner Miss Desire is going to associate sex as a negative experience and shut down your desire. This can then result in another negative sexual experience, causing your negative association with sex to build and build. So even if your Pelvic Floor Therapist has helped you with your muscles, your mind will still be hesitant and resistant. To help your pain elimination as you meet with doctors and a Pelvic Floor Therapist, it’s best to bring on board a Sex Therapist to assist you with a plan to help you and your partner create a feedback system where your mind and body are feeling positive about sex and intimacy.