What causes painful sex? The role of shame

By Lorraine Faehndrich

What causes painful sex?

Back in 2009 I began experiencing pain and burning during intercourse that eventually turned into chronic vulvar pain. This was the beginning of my search for what causes painful sex.

Not only was I angry with my body, I also felt like I was broken and that my body was working against me. It was stopping me from having something I really wanted…a deeply pleasurable sexual connection with my partner.

So, it was a surprise to me, that a big part of relieving my pain turned out to be fully embracing my sexuality.

In order to do that, I needed to uncover and release a lifetime of shame and negative conditioning that was getting in the way, and that I hadn’t previously been aware was impacting me.

Like most women, I grew up in a family and culture that both subtly and openly shames and blames women around their bodies and sexuality.

That conditioning was showing up in my body and my relationship.

For example, I found it difficult to speak up during sex. Even though my partner encouraged me to let him know what did and did not feel good I found myself freezing and unable to speak.

It turns out that my brain (unbeknownst to me) was responding to my own sexuality and pleasure as threatening, even though consciously that’s not what I thought.

What causes painful sex? In my case, this conditioning was at the root of my pain.

Embracing my body, emotions, sexuality, and pleasure is how I healed. You can read more about my story here.

I have been helping women relieve pelvic and sexual pain now for over 10 years. I have helped 1000s of women in my groups, courses, and private coaching to heal and reclaim a positive relationship with their sexuality and pleasure, and I’ve discovered that almost all of these women, even if they were also surprised to realize it, struggled with negative conditioning and shame around their sexuality.

What causes painful sex for my clients? Many have the exact same issues I had.

Regularly, the women I work with uncover beliefs like “sex is dirty”, self-pleasure is bad, that they owe their partners intercourse or are broken as a woman if they can’t provide it.

They’ve struggled with speaking up during sex and owning their desires.

They have anxiety around intercourse and a lack of understanding of their own feminine arousal anatomy and how it works.

Far far far too many women have had sexual experiences that didn’t feel good to them because they froze and couldn’t speak up, and many more because they were assaulted, drugged, or abused.

Where have you struggled around fully embracing your sexuality and pleasure?

I want to support all women to experience their sexuality as the magical, life affirming, healing, blessing that it is–and to know that that is their birthright!

It is mind blowing to me how many women are disconnected from their sexuality, and what a profound impact this is having on women’s health and wellbeing and our ability to relieve pain.

Your pleasure and sexuality matter. They aren’t just a frivolous extra, they are a critical component of your health and wellbeing–a key ingredient of feeling alive and healthy and relieving pain.

Fear, trauma, confusion, lack of education, pelvic and sexual pain, and other negative conditioning around your sexuality and pleasure may be cutting you off from one of the most wonderful parts of you.

Disconnection from your vagina and sexuality disconnects you from yourself.

And you can’t heal and come fully alive without having full access to all of yourself.

The good news is that I have seen and helped thousands of women, including women with vulvodynia and pelvic pain, or who have experienced sexual trauma and abuse, reconnect with their sexuality and pleasure, in a healthy, positive, loving way.

When they do they have the experience of coming home to themselves.

Here’s what I hope you will take away from my experience…

First, that most women (literally every woman I have worked with and most that I have talked with) are suffering from some level of disconnection from their vagina and sexuality, and most of us are not talking about it. If this is you, whether you’ve experienced pain during sex or not, you are not alone.

Second, it is virtually impossible to release chronic tension from your body and pelvis, restore healthy energy flow and relieve pain, if you have not done the work to reconnect with and reclaim your sexual self.

Third, this is absolutely possible no matter what your conditioning and experiences up until now, have been. The truth is that your sexuality is good. It is your life force energy, a part of your essence, magical and wonderful, and a critical component of your health and wellbeing.

This is why I am on a mission to help women reconnect and thrive in their sexuality…even if they are experiencing pain right now…so that they can fully thrive in their body and in their life.

You deserve to love and accept ALL of yourself – and experience your body as the source of pleasure, love, joy and beauty that it is.

Whether you have completed the Healing Female Pain program, or you are new to my work, if you would like to go deeper into healing your relationship with your sexuality and finding pleasure in your body, I would love to help. You can find information on my website and blog (here’s a good post to start with), and I’ll have more resources coming for you soon!

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