What if the build up to orgasm was followed by pain rather than pleasure (dysorgasmia)? What if pelvic pain was an everyday occurrence? What if sex and masturbation became things you could no longer reliably enjoy or even enjoy at all?
For many people, that is their reality. It is estimated that 8-21% of women experience dyspareunia (painful sexual intercourse) at some point in their life1 yet it is something that is rarely spoken about. There are many different ways sexual pain can manifest and many different causes, but in this post I am going to focus on my experience of dysorgasmia and pelvic pain.
I’ve had issues with painful orgasms for years. Rather than experiencing pleasure from clitoral stimulation, I experience discomfort, and a burning, shooting pain at the point of orgasm. I probably should have mentioned it to a GP when it began but the thought never even crossed my mind. Sexual happiness, comfort and fulfilment seemed like a luxury, not something worthy of a doctor’s time.
It is now at least five years since my dysorgasmia began, but I have found ways of living with it. I still experience pain at the point of orgasm from clitoral stimulation alone, but I can enjoy clitoral stimulation if combined with internal stimulation, and I can orgasm from receiving oral sex. This does not remove the pain but it severely reduces it, to the point the pleasure outweighs the pain.
Recently I developed another type of pain. I have now had intermittent pelvic pain for the past two months, which is worse upon orgasm. I would probably have just decided to live with it were it not for the fact I was concerned it may be something serious.
Why is it that I don’t feel I have the right to seek medical treatment for sexual problems though? Why do so many people keep quiet about sexual dysfunction?
For some people it is embarrassment. For others it is not considering their problem serious enough. For me, I suspect it is the quiet voice I have all but suppressed that says it is wrong to enjoy sex and to masturbate. It is the voice that tells me this is my punishment for sexual promiscuity. I may be sex-positive but my subconscious isn’t always.
I believe my pelvic pain and dysorgasmia has a primarily physical explanation (I suspect it is related to the nerve pain and muscle weakness I experience across my body) but I don’t doubt there could be a psychological component. A psychological cause does not mean it is any less real or less worthy of treatment (although I suspect the NHS wouldn’t quite agree).
My GP has referred me for a pelvic ultrasound to rule out things like endometriosis but he didn’t seem overly sure of what could be causing my issues. If the ultrasound doesn’t find anything, I am planning to invest in something like the TensCare Itouch Pelvic Floor Exerciser to try improve my pelvic floor muscles. Even if the ultrasound does find a cause, I don’t think increasing the strength of those muscles would be a bad thing.
Does anyone else suffer from sexual dysfunction or pain? How do you manage it? Are there any exercises or devices you have found useful? Have you discussed it with anyone or do you keep it to yourself?
1Latthe, P; Latthe, M; Say, L; Gülmezoglu, M; Khan, KS (6 July 2006). “WHO systematic review of prevalence of chronic pelvic pain: a neglected reproductive health morbidity.”. BMC Public Health 6 (1): 177. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-6-177. PMC 1550236. PMID 16824213.
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