You should not feel pressured to have sex, under any condition.
Dating culture in the age of social media is faster than ever before, and sometimes with it unfortunately comes the notion that intercourse is de regiueur.
While this is how society tells you how dating should be in these times, you should never feel pressured to engage in penetrative sex, especially if you are facing medical conditions that can cause you great pain.
Writer Lisa Parker details her experiences in dating while diagnosed with chronic pain caused by a bevy of ailments mostly in her reproductive organs, including Endometriosis, Vaginismus, Vulvodynia, Interstitial Cystitis, and overall pelvic floor dysfunction.
“The diagnosis means a lot of things for my reproductive organs, but the main takeaway is that my genitals are often in a lot of pain — inside and out — and especially when penetrated. I may never have sex and I will have pain in that area indefinitely,” writes Parker.
Everyone is different, and it can take one or a combination of these ailments or others to cause extreme pain in one individual, even without penetrative sex.
“Dating isn’t easy for anyone, I assume. But it feels a lot more complicated when you’re a straight woman with medical conditions that prevent you from having vaginal intercourse. When, exactly, was I supposed to bring that up? Women’s magazines and online advice columns never taught me how to handle this,” she said.
But like a majority of ailments, these develop over time and even if you’ve had intercourse prior, ignoring the pain is definitely not a way to live, and your current partner should never make you feel you are ‘missing out’ or doing them a disservice if you cannot engage in sex with them.
Parker said people she’s talked with about her condition even wrote it off as her just ‘being a tease’ or as anxiety stemming from past sexual trauma, or even the insensitive ‘use more lube’ remark.
“But who wouldn’t be anxious about having sex when it had been so traumatic every single time I tried?” she wrote.
She said she has since found ways to alleviate her pain, by joining physical therapy, psychological therapy, and started support groups. She’s tried sleeping with ice on her vagina, tried electric shock therapy and acupuncture, brought a heating pad with her everywhere, and used a dilator every morning before work, aside from changes in her diet.
And it’s important to also note that sexual intercourse, while it helps with intimacy, is not the end-all, be- all of physical contact when dating or in a relationship.
Parker said her journey wasn’t really about seeking to appease her prospective partners with the sex that she couldn’t give, but rather seeking a prospective partner to accept that she couldn’t provide sex.
“I thought I wanted to be able to have pain-free sex. But what I needed was to feel accepted for the way that I am,” she wrote.
Fortunately for Parker, with a little time and going through the motions, she found a man willing to find other ways of getting intimate, on Parker’s own terms.
“It wasn’t pushing through the pain to make vaginal intercourse work; we were taking the time to explore each other’s bodies to figure out what did work. It was about going slow, but refusing to give up and realizing there was always another way,” she said.
The realization that just because she wasn’t in an orthodox situation didn’t make her any less of a woman deserving of love and intimacy came at an opportune time of healing for her, she wrote.
“A lot of people tried to convince me that vaginal intercourse is not all there is to sex. And that sex is not the most important thing in a relationship. They also told me people find love in the most unexpected places, and that when someone loves you — truly loves you — nothing else matters. And now, I finally believe them.”