The Ultimate Cockblocker: Sexual Repression
Sex is disappointing for a lot of people. Though our society pendulates between sex-negative and sex-obsessed at terrifying speeds, the actual sexual experience of many people is rather blah.
As a sexuality coach, I hear a lot about how the sex people are having isn’t what they’re craving. Formulaic, brief, and usually focused on male pleasure.. How Americans have sex could definitely use a makeover. Even when sex is pretty good, there’s often something in our hearts tells us there’s still something missing. That we’ve barely scratching the surface of what’s possible.
In addition to sex not being as epic as it could be, there's a lot of quiet suffering in and around sex that we’re not talking about. There are vast swaths of people that experience body-hatred, guilt, or shame when they engage in their sexuality. Even if the sex itself is ok, afterward they feel terrible and aren’t sure why.
Our bodies can express this as well. Genitalia are exquisitely sensitive parts of our bodies, not just in the neuronal sense but in a psychological sense as well. If something is troubling your mind whatever is in your pants might have something to say about it. They can speak in the form of physical issues such as yeast infections, erectile dysfunction, UTIs, spontaneous pinches or painful sensations, vulvodynia, numbness during sex, etc.
Yes, these can all be purely medical issues stemming from bacteria, hormones, and/or other physical factors, but often, these symptoms have a deep psychosomatic component.
Perhaps your chronic UTIs flare up when you’re feeling fat and ugly. Perhaps your cock gets hard with one partner and not with another. Maybe you get a yeast infection whenever you visit your mom. Maybe you have to be drunk or high to feel pleasure during sex.
Our genitals are so much more than just bits of flesh with lots of nerves and a reproductive capacity. They are INCREDIBLY connected to our psychological and emotional state. Unlike our kneecaps or triceps, our sexual organs are involved in deep matters of the heart like desire, love, hate, trust, fear, anger, and sadness. Depression lowers libido. Falling in love raises it. You might get turned on by one person but not another.
This mind-body connection is described at length by Bessel Van der Kolk, MD in his book,The Body Keeps the Score. There he describes his work with veterans from World War II. They scored positively for PTSD, but experienced mostly physical symptoms such as stomach cramps and chest pains instead of the depression and nightmares we more typically associate with the disorder. Similarly, our genitals can hold onto what we might consider purely mental experiences such as trauma, old beliefs, and conditioning.
Some of the experiences you had years ago might still be held in your body and show up during sex. Experiences like painful sex in your early encounters, shaming of your sexuality by religion, or being yelled at for masturbating as a child can color your sexual experience today. This is of course compounded for survivors of sexual assault. Just one moment of threatened sexual assault can hamper a person’s sexuality for years after.
The rape culture and patriarchy of Western society means that, even if you had a very positive upbringing and didn’t have any painful sexual experiences yourself, it’s essentially “in the air.” The threat of sexual harassment and assault is pretty hard to miss if you have a female gender-identity.
Experiences, especially traumatic ones, determine our neuronal pathways. Once your brain has wired together “sexuality” and “danger” it’s hard for that to not impact future sexual experiences.
Overall, this cumulative sexual repression really puts a damper on sex, so very few of us are experiencing our maximum sexual potential. We all could stand to gain from some form of sexual healing work.
The first step toward sexual healing is to listen to your body, to honor your this delicate area of your body by paying closer attention to it. Here is a simple way to consciously connect with whatever’s in your pants and possibly get some information about what’s holding you back.
1. Sit quietly and breathe for a few minutes
2. Tune into your body in general. Do you feel your feet on the floor? Your butt on the chair? Notice any areas that are tense. Notice any areas that are relaxed.
3. Tune into your genitals. Do you feel your underwear? Your pants, skirt, or belt around your hips? What sensations do you feel on the inside?
4. When you feel really tuned-in, imagine that your genitals are separate from you, like a separate person. Ask them whatever question comes to mind. It might be as simple as “how are you?” or as loaded as “why can’t I orgasm?”
5. Listen carefully for what thoughts, emotions, or sensations arise. You might have a memory flash through your mind, a song lyric bubble up, a sudden burst of anger or sadness, or feel a pinch or tingling. Even if nothing comes up just connecting consciously to this part of you can be deeply healing.
Your body and mind are two ends of a spectrum. The body is the most physical, manifest version of the mind. The mind is the most subtle, refined version of the body. But at the end of the day it’s all nerves firing. Whether the result of this firing is a thought in your brain or an erection between your legs, it’s all the same.
If you want your sexual experience to be as magnificent and pleasurable as it possibly can, start by listening to your body. Your genitals are canaries in the coal mine that alert you to when there is something off that we can’t quite yet perceive. If something is repressing your sexuality, holding you back from your maximum sexual potential, they’ll know.
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