One of the most difficult parts of vulvodynia or any type of pelvic pain can be frustration around how to maintain a happy healthy sex life.
But it’s not only pelvic pain that can get in the way of enjoying sex, so many women experience pain or discomfort during sex, numbness, shame, or just lack of pleasure.
Most women don’t orgasm during intercourse, and intercourse is what most of us are conditioned to think sex is.
Whether you’re avoiding intimacy altogether, or you find yourself pushing through discomfort or lack of pleasure in order to have the connection and make your partner happy, this blog post is for you!
I want to share some practices with you today that worked for me, and that I have seen help my clients not only reclaim a happy healthy sex life, but in many cases enjoy it much much more than they did before experiencing pain, numbness or discomfort.
These are things you can do now, on your own or with a partner to bring pleasure back into your body and your life!
You don’t have to wait until your pain is gone.
If you’re willing to get curious and explore…you may find that the process of learning how to enjoy sex again (or for the first time), can be a blessing that has lasting positive impacts on the quality of your relationships and the level of joy in your life.
At least that was the case for me, and it is for many of the women I work with.
Four Practices to Help You Enjoy Sex (Even if You’re Healing from Pelvic Pain.
The following practices will help you begin exploring sexual pleasure in your body (even if you’re healing from pelvic pain or pain during sex). They are also fantastic for reconnecting with your sexuality after relieving pelvic pain, and for any woman who wants to enjoy sex more!
1. Redefine Sex
Our cultural scripts for heterosexual sex equate sex with penetration.
But the truth is that friction-based vaginal intercourse is not the optimal way to experience sexual pleasure and orgasm – for any human really, even if you’re not in pain, but especially for women.
Of course intercourse can be a pleasurable part of sex, but it’s certainly not the whole thing, not even close. Holding it up as a goal or ideal can be very limiting, stressful, and anxiety producing, especially if you’re experiencing pelvic pain.
Luckily, the reality is that there is a wide range of sexual pleasure available beyond our male centric cultural script. Taking the time to explore this is an opportunity to discover your full range of sexual pleasure potential as a woman. In fact, taking penetration off the table is a wonderful strategy to help you discover new ways to connect and enjoy sex more.
Expanding your definition of sex and sexual pleasure, and approaching sex with a beginner’s mind and a new attitude of curiosity and openness, is the first step to enjoying sex while you’re healing from pelvic pain.
Remember, you get to decide what feels good to your body. Your pleasure matters. No exceptions.
2. Slow Down
When you are having sex (alone or with a partner), slow down and let go of any goal or preconceived idea of what should happen or what you should do.
When you move more slowly, with presence and awareness, you will be able to feel more. Pleasure is sensation in your body, and slowing down helps you tune into the sensations.
If you haven’t been enjoying sex for a while, or are experiencing anxiety or pain around sex, it’s likely you’re disconnecting in order to avoid the discomfort. But shutting down the discomfort also shuts down the pleasure.
Cultivating increased awareness by slowing down will help you discover what actually feels good to you beyond the cultural scripts you’ve internalized.
3. Body Love
Start a practice of giving your body loving touch – for you. You can do this yourself or with a partner. I recommend beginning with yourself so that you can stay 100% present with your own experience without being distracted, but it is also a wonderful way to build intimacy and connection with a partner.
Stroke your hair, your face, your neck, arms, chest, belly and legs with love and care. Move slowly, breathe into your low belly, and stay present with sensation.
What sensations do you notice at the point where your hand makes contact with your body? What sensations do you notice in the rest of your body? Don’t try to make anything happen, simply welcome whatever you notice.
Be curious and playful. This is about exploring your body and what feels good to you. Your goal is to re-discover all the ways your body can experience pleasure, and develop your ability to receive it. (Pleasure is absolutely a muscle we need practice to build.)
How does your body like to be touched? How does it respond to kind words and appreciation? How does it like to move? How much more can you relax into loving pleasurable touch.
Conscious breathing is one of the fastest ways to drop out of your mind and into your body. It connects you with the felt sense in your body, and can be focused anywhere, increasing energy movement and flow.
Breathing moves energy.
You can use the pace and depth of your breath to soothe and nourish your body as well as to welcome and expand sensations of pleasure.
Like the body love practice, breathwork can be used on your own, or with a partner.
I’ve created a simple breathing practice for you that you can download free here.
All four of these practices can help you to be more present with the sensations of pleasure in your body without unknowingly shutting them down or rushing towards climax. This can move you towards a more full body experience of pleasure and orgasm, which is the key to enjoying sex, and creating a happy healthy sex life!
These practices are for all vulva owners, even if you’re experiencing or have experienced pelvic pain. I invite you to give them a try!
As one of my clients recently shared…
“My partner and I realized that without intending to, we had both mostly focused on his desires to the point that my body had shut down. I had lost connection to what I wanted, my desire and passion. Now, we make lots of room for my tears and laughter because my feelings are connected to my pleasure. I notice my pelvic floor softening and relaxing.
I enjoy sex so much more now and always want to have this intimacy time. That wasn’t always true before. If I stay curious and don’t have a goal in mind…I can talk to my body and the sensations are fluid and change a lot. This is the most exciting part for me…to feel the sensations and the changes happening inside my body. It’s amazing and fluid. The tightness, tension, defensiveness in my pelvic floor can change and dissipate in minutes…when I’m really honoring myself and paying attention.”
My mission is to help all women reclaim their sexuality and pleasure so that they can have a happy health sex life, better health, and more joy…and that includes you, no matter where you are in your journey right now.