While their can be medical reasons for pain or burning during sex, and of course you want to see your doctor, if you’ve ruled out physical issues like STDs, yeast and bacteria, the next step is to look at underlying emotional and mind body causes.
Not only can mind body factors like suppressed emotions and an overstimulated nervous system cause the brain to create pain, but what I see is that our sex negative culture also plays a role when it comes to women having pain or burning during sex.
Even the Mayo Clinic lists some specific emotional factors as causes for dyspareunia (pain during sex), stating that “Emotions are deeply intertwined with sexual activity, so they might play a role in sexual pain.”
Emotional factors listed by the Mayo Clinic include:
- “Psychological issues. Anxiety, depression, concerns about your physical appearance, fear of intimacy or relationship problems can contribute to a low level of arousal and a resulting discomfort or pain.
- Stress. Your pelvic floor muscles tend to tighten in response to stress in your life. This can contribute to pain during intercourse.
- History of sexual abuse. Not every woman with dyspareunia has a history of sexual abuse, but if you have been abused, it can play a role.”
On top of that, “Initial pain can lead to fear of recurring pain, making it difficult to relax, which can lead to more pain. You might start avoiding sexual intercourse if you associate it with the pain.”
Absolutely yes to all of this. I have worked with many women who have experienced these underlying emotional causes, who have relieved their pain by addressing them.
Emotional factors, like stress, anxiety, depression, fear of intimacy, and past trauma or abuse have a huge impact on our body and nervous system, and can cause all kinds of pelvic pain, including pain during sex.
In addition to these emotional factors, so many of us, as women, have had negative conditioning around sex and pleasure from our culture (including family and religion), or from negative sexual experiences, assault or trauma. These contribute to fear, anxiety, anger, tension, shame, and suppressed emotions that also can lead to painful sex.
When we don’t feel 100% safe in our life, in our relationships, or with our sexuality…or when we carry old protective patterns that haven’t been addressed…it impacts our body.
Another factor I see contributing to women having pain during sex is inadequate information about female sexuality, pleasure, and orgasm.
When we haven’t learned how our bodies are really designed to work, when we don’t understand female arousal and orgasm and how different they are from male arousal and orgasm, when we are having sex that looks something like what the dominant culture has taught us it is supposed to look like ….it leads to pain for many many women.
Pain during sex or penetration can seem to start out of the blue, or there can be a precipitating factor, like a period of increased sexual activity, a yeast infection, or a stressful or emotional time in your life.
However the pain begins, taking time to explore the underlying emotional and mind body causes, and addressing them is an important part of healing and relief.
A Mind Body Approach to Healing Pain During Sex
Relieving painful sex is a process of healing your relationship with your body, your emotions, and your sexuality.
It involves identifying and replacing culturally conditioned beliefs, embracing your emotions, healing the effects of past trauma, and as a result, calming your nervous system and beginning to feel safe in your own skin. It also requires learning how to bring breath, light, movement, love, joy and pleasure back into your body and sexuality.
When women do this they not only relieve pain, they start to enjoy sex more than they ever have before.
A good place to start is to get curious…
- What was going on in your life before your symptoms began? What is going on now?
- How do you feel about your vulva and vagina? How do you relate to your sexuality and pleasure?
- Have you had any negative experiences around your sexuality that need to be expressed and healed?
- How do you treat yourself overall in your life? Do you have any of the common personality traits/ protective patterns of women who experience pain during sex or other types of pelvic pain? For example, do you put a lot of pressure on yourself? Are you a perfectionist? Do you tend to worry a lot?
If you suspect there are emotional or other mind body factors contributing to or causing your pain, take the time to read more on my website. There are so many resources here to help you get to the root of your pain and relieve it!
If you’d like more support, my Healing Female Pain program walks you step by step through the process of healing pain during sex using a mind body approach.
I know from first hand experience how frustrating and depressing it can be to have pain interfere with your enjoyment of sex and intimacy, and I want you to know that you can absolutely heal.
You can enjoy sex again!
In fact, relieving pain during sex can lead you on a journey of self discovery that improves your life in so many wonderful ways.