I clearly remember…
As I went deeper and deeper down the slippery slope of pain, my desire for sexual acts diminished.
I mean of course it would!
Penetrative sex was at first impossible for me. When I tried to force it and push through the initial physical barrier, it became incredibly painful.
Think a freshly sharpened knife being inserted in the most delicate part of your body.
I know you know what I mean…
So of course, with penetrative sex being associated with excruciating pain, anything that generally leads to PIV sex also becomes part of the path to disappointment.
And it becomes doused in the mental and emotional pain of anticipating the act. So we either expect and brace for pain, or we do our best to avoid it altogether!
And hence, what this looks like is that our sexual desire plummets.
I started to avoid intimate acts of all sorts, dreading where those were meant to lead. Not even wanting to be reminded of THE thing that I couldn’t yet do, that I desperately wanted to.
And so, as my emotional pain went through the roof, my sexual desire plummeted.
It’s only natural!
The thought of sex itself, since it was associated with pain, simply became a source of stress for me – an off switch to arousal.
So let’s explore this ‘off’ mechanism more deeply, with the help of Emily Nagoski’s work.
She is the author of the fantastic book ‘Come As You Are’.
And she explains…
How sexual desire really works.
She describes “the sexual response mechanism as a set of on and off switches, with each associated with a particular kind of input – genital sensations, relationship satisfaction, stress, attachments, etc. – what throws a switch on or off.
A switch on is an accelerator while the off button is well, a brake. (And in some cases an emergency brake!)
So “arousal begins when you active the accelerator and take pressure off the brake – turn on the ons and turn off the offs.”
Men’s and women’s sexual response mechanisms have the same set of dials and switches, but they tend to be turned to different levels of sensitivity, so that just a little bit of genital stimulation throws an on switch for men, while just a little bit of stress throws an off switch for women.”
Another important piece for vulva owners is that…
“Arousal is not about her genitals, it’s about her brain.”
“People sometimes feel more comfortable with the idea that their sexual desire has everything to do with their chemistry and nothing to do with their life. After all, these days it’s easy to change your chemistry!
But hormones are a small – often negligible – part of the context that shapes a woman’s sexual wellbeing, so changing them can make only a small – often negligible – impact. This is another reason why the keenly sought “pink Viagra” is such an unpromising approach.
Stress, self-compassion, trauma history, relationship satisfaction, and other emotional factors have far more influence on a woman’s sexual desire than any hormone.”
“About 15 percent of women have a spontaneous desire style – they want sex out of the blue.
Thirty percent experience responsive desire – they want sex only when something pretty erotic is already happening. The rest, about half of women, experience some combination of the two, depending on context.”
Hence, she explains what might increase your satisfaction with a “sexual event”:
“How about if you felt really beautiful?
Or if you felt profoundly, deeply trusting of your partner?
Or if you felt like you had 100 percent permission to take as long as you wanted to become fully aroused and your partner would love every second of it?
Or, if you have a history of trauma, as so many women do, if you felt you could more completely release that trauma and fully engage with pleasure in the present moment?”
And it’s true!
A massive part of the emotional healing journey of vaginismus is coming back to this place of peace with the past, relaxation in the present and excitement for the future!
And therefore, sexual desire is much more about the context of our lives as opposed to the intensity of intended eroticism at any given moment.
There are so many tidbits of wisdom within Emily Nagoski’s book. In fact, I invite all of my clients to read it! It will be a recommended read within our next 4 month healing journey as well!
And until you have a chance to dive in…
Some final words of inspiration:
“You might feel stuck. You might be exhausted. You feel depressed, anxious, worn out by the demands of taking care of everyone else, and in desperate, dire need of renewal.
You might be tired of feeling like you need to defend yourself and tired of wishing your body would do something different.
You might wish that, for a little while, someone else would defend you so that you could lower your guard and just be. Just for a while.
Those are circumstances, they’re not you. You are okay. You are whole. There exists inside you a sexuality that protects you by withdrawing until times are propitious.
… But it’s there, your sexuality. It’s part of you, as much as your skin and your heartbeat and your vocabulary. It’s there. It’s waiting.”
What do you think about diving into the book “Come As You Are”?
Please comment below with your thoughts, questions or objections about anything I shared! I’d love to hear what you think!
Also, I want to congratulate you for committing to your healing journey by doing your research and reading this!
Starting is the hardest step and that means you’re well on your path to healing! Celebrate that fact today… Treat yourself, your deserve it!
And if you haven’t gotten your hands on my free online course yet, get “Putting Vaginismus In The Past” now.
To you seeing your innate perfection and taking on the world exactly as you are!
– Katrin, with Love