Addressing Painful Intimacy with Compassion and Care | Advice

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I'm reaching out because I've been experiencing pain during sex for some time now, and it's starting to take a toll on my relationship with my partner.

We're both women, and at first, I thought it might just be a temporary issue, but it's persisted, and I'm not sure what to do. I feel guilty and anxious every time we get intimate, worrying that the pain will ruin the moment. My partner is incredibly understanding and patient, but I can tell it's affecting our connection. Do you have any advice on how to address this pain and communicate with my partner about it?

First and foremost, I want to commend you for taking the brave step to reach out and share what you're going through. Experiencing pain during sex is a deeply personal and often distressing situation, and it's completely understandable that it's causing you feelings of guilt and anxiety. It's clear that this issue is not just a physical discomfort but also an emotional burden, affecting the intimate connection between you and your partner.

Your partner's understanding and patience in this situation are invaluable. It speaks volumes about the strength and depth of your relationship. Communication, as you've identified, is key. It's wonderful that you're looking for ways to address this pain and talk about it openly with your partner. In moments like these, the comfort and safety found in a supportive relationship can make a significant difference.

When it comes to discussing your experiences of pain during sex, finding a quiet, private time to talk is crucial. It's important that both you and your partner feel safe and unhurried, allowing for an open and honest exchange of feelings and concerns. During sexual intimacy, or after, is not the time to have this discussion. Pick a time that is neutral and allows space from any other vulnerable emotions. Expressing your emotions, needs, and fears clearly, while also listening to your partner's perspective, can foster a deeper understanding and empathy between you both.

It's natural to worry about the impact of this issue on your relationship and intimacy. However, by facing this challenge together, you can explore alternative ways to maintain your connection and intimacy without causing you discomfort or pain. This might involve discovering new forms of physical closeness or other expressions of affection that are comfortable and enjoyable for both of you.

The emotional and psychological aspects of experiencing pain during sex cannot be underestimated. Practicing self-compassion is crucial; remember to be kind and patient with yourself. Anxiety and stress can often exacerbate the situation, so incorporating mindfulness and relaxation techniques into your routine may help reduce tension and improve your overall well-being.

Finding a healthcare provider that specializes in sexual dysfunction is a crucial step in your process to healing. Finding someone who is LGBTQ affirming will also be beneficial in your process. In addition to healthcare, I encourage you to consider the benefits of professional support. A psychotherapist, especially one familiar with sexual health and LGBTQ issues, can offer valuable strategies for managing anxiety, improving communication, and exploring the emotional dimensions of your experience in a supportive and understanding environment.

Navigating this challenge may not be easy, but it's important to remember that you're not alone. With the support of your partner, open communication, and perhaps professional guidance, you can find a way forward that honors both your need for physical comfort and your desire for a fulfilling intimate connection.

Queerly Beloved is an expertly curated column dedicated to the world of LGBTQ sex, intimacy and relationships that provides education, insights and actionable tips for the reader to enhance their pleasure journey. This column from Kelly Ghweinem, LCSW, will answer questions and provide advice to readers to deepen intimate connections, elevate pleasurable experiences, and empower people. Ghweinem is an established queer-affirming therapist and business owner who champions the LGBTQ+ community through activism and advocacy utilizing a queer, feminist, anti-racist lens. A University at Buffalo graduate, Kelly came to Fort Lauderdale from Manhattan in 2022.

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The advice offered in this column is intended for informational purposes only. Use of this column is not intended to replace or substitute any financial, medical, legal, or other professional advice.


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