There are different methods and practices that can be used to help manage sexual concerns such as painful sex. Several of the issues individuals face within the realm of sex occurs not only at a physiological level, but at a psychological one as well. It is quite common for individuals who experience painful sex (or dyspareunia as it is commonly referred as) to seek pelvic floor therapy coupled with regular counseling sessions.
Managing the effects of having painful sex can have individuals limited to the confines of a medical office or a therapist’s office. Habitual meditation is an excellent way for men and women to learn how to decrease the anxiety felt during intimate situations.
Meditation allows individuals the time and space to properly check in with their bodies and how they are truly feeling in the moment, but the practice is commonly misunderstood to be all about the ability to achieve complete and utterly perfect stillness without any mistakes or distractions whatsoever.
In truth, meditation is less about doing or achieving and more about being present, open. Being meditative is really more about being intentional than it is about being perfect. That is part of the beauty of meditating. Allowing oneself to make mistakes or be distracted without punishing one’s self unnecessarily.
It is about identifying and accepting the distraction and afterwards, being able to reenter that state of comfortable stillness. Meditation can be seen as difficult or intimidating because it appears to require a lot of effort. The contradiction however, is that meditation encourages individuals to do nothing. This can feel at odds with the constant bombardment of messages modern people receive every day about the importance of being productive 24/7. Taking the time to slow down, to really experience a moment to its fullest is powerful.
Research has illustrated numerous times the physical and psychological health benefits of incorporating meditation into one’s routine- especially research conducted within the realm of human sexuality.
Meditation can teach individuals dealing with painful intimacy to identify tension in their bodies and then use techniques to decompress and minimize that uncomfortability in the moment, rather than catastrophizing the pain which only increases the discomfort and anxiety of the situation.
Body scans are commonly used in meditation practices. During a body scan, an individual assumes a comfortable position, whether that is lying on one’s back or side, or sitting up with their back propped on a wall, while a guide facilitates the practice. The guide may first bring the meditator’s attention to their immediate surroundings, like the temperature of the room, or the feel of the clothes on their skin, before moving onto areas of their physical body such as their forehead, neck, and chest.
On and on the practice continues until most every major area of the body has been covered, so that the meditator has had ample time to reflect on each body region and any sensations they notice in these key areas, whether “good” or “bad.”
Meditation is never about judgement, but about self-acceptance. Which may be one reason why meditation can help individuals experiencing painful sex as well as other sexual concerns. These practices help to fill the gap between mind and body, allowing people to develop comfortability with themselves, their bodies, and ultimately, with stillness. In addition to body scans, diaphragmatic breath is another important technique used within meditative practices.
A common method in meditation is to place both hands on one’s stomach in order to feel the expansion of the breath, while imagining that the diaphragm is a constantly inflating and deflating balloon. Such imagery coupled with the physical touching of the stomach helps meditators ground themselves and remain aware of their bodies.
Breathing seems so simple it is often taken for granted, but by paying more attention to the breath, along with the body’s current state, the nervous system can begin to relax. Clients who experience painful intimacy can train their bodies to relax quicker during seemingly threatening or anxiety inducing situations like pelvic exams and/or penetrative vaginal intercourse.
Painful intercourse not only affects the pelvic floor muscles but other parts of the body as well, which is why pelvic floor specialists will often ask patients about stomach pain, the frequency of their urination and bowel movements, among other things. These parts of the body are all connected working in concert.
Using mindfulness during pelvic floor therapy sessions can actually help clients build confidence in themselves and their ability to minimize the discomfort they feel, making the following therapy sessions a little bit easier.
There are a number of meditation practices out there, including guided meditations, body scans as mentioned earlier, and visualization techniques, which allow meditators to imagine themselves in certain settings such as in a forest, on a mountain, or at the beach.
Yoga nidra is another form of meditation that aims to promote better sleep and stress relief. There are even meditations for pelvic floor patients specifically. These meditations help individuals who have painful intercourse as well as individuals who suffer from endometriosis pain.
Another wonderful thing about practicing meditation is that it does not have to be a certain length in order for the meditation to be useful. Meditations can be as long or as short as someone wishes them to be.
Even just five minutes every day to incorporate mindfulness provides positive health benefits and stress relief. Platforms like Youtube and Spotify have a variety of meditation practices and music to choose from to suit anyone’s needs or tastes.
It is comforting to know that there are resources out there for individuals dealing with the struggle of painful sex. Meditation in addition to regular pelvic floor therapy supplemented with counseling sessions, can offer support to individuals who experience painful sex. The important thing is to find what works for you.
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