Sexual discomfort is never an easy topic to begin, and definitely not a conversation starter many of us would want to have over breakfast with the ones we love! Hence why there are therapists like myself to help you navigate conversations about those topics! Sexual discomfort is quite common among men and women (cis and trans alike) and can cause a variety of emotional issues within the individual experiencing the discomfort. I've seen many people who have reported different forms of emotional and/or physical discomfort when engaged in sexual intimacy with their partner. All who have stepped into my office are seeking answers to remedy this problem. Aside from being in an emotionally or physically abusive relationship (which has been covered in many other articles out there), what are some of the other common reasons why this might be occurring for you?
Look to your past for guidance
Do you have a personal history of sexual, physical, or emotional trauma that has happened in your life? This is never an easy question to approach even as a therapist, and more often than not there isn't a simple solution. In the majority of client's that I've seen who come into my office reporting sexual intimacy issues, most have also reported a history personal trauma. Particularly if your trauma was centered around sexual acts or at a time during sexual development, this can create problematic patterns in emotional and physical responses when in healthy and safe sexual relationships later in life. Therefore, if you are experiencing difficulty engaging in sexual acts with your partner following a trauma history it might be best to seek help from a trained professional.
Have you been to the doctor lately?
Another common source of sexual discomfort whether it be emotional or physical can be related to a medical problem. For some this includes hormonal imbalances (ex. low testosterone in cis men and menopause for cis women), different illnesses whether short term or long term, or other forms of chemical imbalances within the body. For cis gendered men who are experiencing issues relating to erectile functioning or sensitivity, often times these issues can be perceived by a partner as disinterest or lack of affection towards them. For cis gendered men that feeling of disinterest can be reinforced if they are feeling self conscious about engaging sexually with their partner. On the positive side, many erectile functioning and sensitivity issues can be treated with different forms of medications such as SSRI's (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) and even behavioral therapeutic techniques that can be practiced at home. For cis gendered women issues including ovarian cysts or pelvic pain can cause a shy away from sexual activity. With an appropriate medical diagnosis and sometimes physical therapy, cis gendered women can find themselves feeling better about themselves and their bodies.
How do you see yourself?
Self esteem is important in many different areas of life, and in the bedroom is one of them! If you are experiencing issues with body image, negative self talk, or having trouble seeing positive personal attributes than this can greatly affect your libido and willingness to engage sexually with your partner. Think about it, if you aren't feeling attractive and are down about yourself how likely are you to feel in the mood to get it on with your significant other? Self esteem is one of THE most common issues I've encountered from individuals in my office, so if you are having difficulty finding positives about you even after consulting with friends and family who do, it might be best to seek out some one on one counseling.
Difficulty getting 'in the mood'
Last but not least let's discuss different forms of arousal disorders. Although not very common, arousal disorders can affect men and women in being able to reach a physical peak of pleasure. Sometimes arousal disorders are emotional and mental, sometimes just physical, and sometimes both. To receive a proper diagnosis for a sexual arousal or genital arousal disorder it's often best to receive both mental health and medical evaluation together.
If you are experiencing any issues related to sex, intimacy, sexual addictions or more, do not hesitate to reach out to us at Identity to schedule your first free consultation and get started on your healing journey!
Devin Pinkston is a local mental health counselor and Gender Therapist in Grand Junction Colorado. Call to schedule a free consultation today at 970-644-2392.