How To LOVE Sex (Even When You Can’t Have Intercourse)

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 Women Who Find Sex Painful
Sex

Don't let painful sex ruin your orgasm.

The first time I tried to have sex after cancer treatment (surgery and radiation for rectal cancer), it felt like knives in my vagina. The pain shocked me. It scared both me and my husband. We never tried again. He had no awareness or concern about my pleasure.

I am not saying that lack of sex led to the end of my marriage, but it certainly didn’t help. My physical condition and my then husband’s lack of desire meant no sex for either of us.

He wasn’t interested in me sexually, period. I never cheated (it never even occurred to me). My sexuality just went dormant instead. And I went about getting divorced and living on my own.

Painful sex is a common issue for women. 

Medical treatment isn't the only issue that cause incredibly painful intercourse. Researchers have identified a little-known, but common condition called vestibulodynia which makes "any sort of vaginal penetration so painful, women who have it find having sex difficult, or in some cases, impossible." 

Anywhere from four to 28 percent of women ages 20 to 40 suffer from it. If you've ever had painful sex, read on.

Some women in the study reported they "don’t feel like true women because they can’t have sex." They think about their condition a lot. The stress of it can actually contribute to the pain, creating a vicious cycle.

Many women with this problem allow their sexual desires to go dormant rather than talk to their partners about it openly. Why? Because some men are less than sympathetic and claim she is just "making up an excuse." It seems near impossible for men to imagine sex being painful.  

"Her sexual desire went dormant?" they ask me. "How is that even possible?"

Vaginal pain causes shame and feelings of loneliness.

A deep feeling of inadequacy often results when vaginal penetration is painful. After all, it's hardly a topic you're likely to bring up at the weekly happy hour.

Many women believe they're "fine" living a life without sex. They may pour themselves into creative projects at work, home or in their community. Driven for success in other areas of life, women try to fill a gaping pleasure gap in their lives.

Pleasure? Yes, pleasure. While the painful vagina situation mystifies scientists, that doesn’t mean that pleasure in general is off-limits. In fact, waking up your body to physical pleasure, without any vaginal participation at all, is mind-numbingly delicious.

I had no idea that my sex life could become more exciting than ever, even though my vagina is closed for business.

Pleasure is the key to happiness. 

Pleasure is fabulous. Pleasure is individual. Pleasure is accessible. If intercourse is painful (whether due to medical conditions, menopause or psychological blocks) experiencing pleasure is still a choice.  

Imagine having an orgasm because your partner is softly kissing your hip bone. Or, from no physical touch at all. Yes, it is absolutely possible. Follow these three steps to check your arousal potential. Remember — your orgasmic future is in your hands.

Step 1: Explore your beliefs about your own right to experience pleasure.  

How does this article make you feel? Sad? Angry? Frustrated? Living with painful sex is heavy to bear all by yourself. Do you wonder if a man will ever choose you if you can’t have intercourse? Do you want to solve this issue? Are you willing to explore your own body to see if pleasure exists that doesn’t hurt?

Doing a little inquiry about your desire and arousal systems will open a door of hope for you. Your body is capable of pleasure (I will show you exactly what to do to discover pleasure practices without your vagina), but you MUST convince your mind first that you're allowed to experience pleasure. 

Step 2: Create a plan you that helps you feel curious.

Get a new journal for the purpose of self-exploration. Grab a copy of O Magazine and flip through for headlines that inspire self-awareness, self-care, and self-development. If you can find some about sex, orgasm or pleasure ... all the better. Paste the headlines throughout the journal and on the cover.

On the first page, write the following: "Up until now sex has been painful and frustrating, but today I open myself up to the possibility of pleasure I don’t know about yet." 

Then write the facts about your sexual experience as you know them. For example: Currently, for me ... 

  • Sex hurts.
  • I feel embarrassed that I don’t enjoy sex.
  • I've never had an orgasm.
  • Men reject me because they think I'm sexually inadequate.
  • I don’t know how to tell my boyfriend that it hurts when we have sex.
  • I feel hopeless.
  • I don't need sex.
  • I hate how men demand sex.

Good for you for being honest with yourself. The longer your list, the better. This is your time to explore exactly what you think about sex in general. Because, it's super important that you change your thoughts about sex and pleasure.  

As musician Pharrell Williams says, "Seduce the mind and the body will follow." Same for you. Change your mind about sex and your body will not only follow, it will thank you enthusiastically!

Step 3: Discover what arouses you.

Do you read or watch erotica? Do you own a vibrator? Do you enjoy self-pleasure?

If you feel aroused when watching or reading sexual fantasies, then you're ready to explore self-pleasure and alternative methods of orgasm. If, however, experience no arousal and you don’t enjoy sexual pictures, stories or movies, I recommend working with a therapist skilled in sexual healing.

If you can enjoy some degree of arousal though, then you're ready to open up the pleasure treasure trove and explore your orgasmic potential. Yes, I said, orgasmic. Achieving orgasm is actually a lot easier than you think. Especially when you relieve your vagina of any demands and leave her alone.

Don’t believe me? Here is a video of a woman in orgasm with no one touching her at all (WARNING: the video link is not appropriate for viewing at the office).  

Remember — sexual pleasure is available to you, even when sexual intercourse is not. 

Painful sex is a common problem. Being honest with yourself about what you're experiencing takes courage. But, I know from personal experience that sexual pleasure is 100 percent possible without penetration. These days, orgasm is back on my regular self-care menu. And, I know the same is possible for you, too.

Catherine Behan is a Dating, Sex and Intimacy Coach practicing in San Diego, CA. For a free 20 minute chat to explore your Sexual Confidence or lack thereof, click here.

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