A recent study published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior examined the different ways women cope with sexual discomfort. From vulvar pain to low libido or no libido, researchers Sharron Hinchliff, Merryn Gott, and Kevan Wylie talked with women about the different ways they cope with physical discomfort and lack of desire in the context of their sexual relationships.
The study respondents reported that their sexual pain and lack of desire caused them to utilize a variety of coping and avoidance skills. Some of the women reported avoiding sex, while others reported dreading it or having to “mentally prepare” themselves for sexual intercourse. Others submitted to sex even when it was painful, while others reported fearing all forms of intimate connection (such as kissing, oral sex, and other forms of sexual activity) as they believed it would inevitably lead to intercourse.
Although this study is saddening, it is not surprising. Many women suffer from sexual discomfort, and they often do so in silence. They wrongly believe that there are no solutions available to them or that painful sex or loss of libido is an inevitable part of aging.
The good news is that this is not true.
There is no such thing as a “sexpiration” date, and women can enjoy passionate, fulfilling sex throughout their lives. However, sexual discomfort, decreased sexual response, and libido are all real issues that cannot be ignored. If sex is painful or if your desire isn’t there, it can be difficult to maintain a healthy sex life as well as a healthy relationship.
Men sometimes assume that their partner’s lack of desire or sexual enjoyment is due to their own performance and appearance, and they wrongly believe that their partner is no longer attracted to them. It’s easy to see how this issue can spiral and take on a life of its own, which is why it is so important not to ignore sexual pain or suffer in silence.
Not to mention, as evidenced by the study findings, women who suffer from sexual discomfort sometimes try to avoid all forms of physical intimacy. They shy away from kisses and cuddles because they worry that painful sex is just around the corner. This response will only make a partner feel more unwanted, and it will also deprive the woman of the intimate touches and kisses she craves. It’s a lose-lose situation. Luckily, though, it’s one that can be resolved.
Talk to your doctor about your symptoms and keep track of your libido and response. For example, is sex always painful, or only at certain times of the month? Does your libido come and go or has it decreased steadily? There are so many things that can impact your sexual response, and whether it is medications, hormones, or lifestyle habits, your doctor can help you troubleshoot your sexual issues and help you get back on track.
On the flip side, the study also found that some women chose to get creative about their sexual discomfort. They implemented other forms of sexual activity that were not painful (think mutual masturbation or oral sex), and they enjoyed those activities instead of turning to intercourse right away.
The bottom line is that there are so many different ways to create intimacy and sexual pleasure, and it’s not necessary to forsake your sensual feelings just because you might not be in the mood for intercourse. There are other ways you and your partner can enjoy each other’s bodies and create fulfilling and passionate orgasms, so don’t be afraid to explore and try new things.