What If This Pain Could Be Resolved?
I used to think my own sexuality related issues were so fringe that they were unrelatable to the general populace. I questioned becoming a sex educator because who was I to teach anyone anything when my own puss "didn't work right?" I felt like the exception to every rule, the most likely candidate for every side effect. Now I know, that is EXACTLY why my body holds lessons for so many other bodies. Because I have had to keep trying, testing, reassesing. And in my digging, I have uncovered JUST HOW COMMON SEXUAL PAIN IS. And in an unfolding series of writings (don't look for them to be in order), I am going to count down the many ways I have investigated so far, so that you may widdle down what is happening with you.
Sexual pain is the ugly, uncomfortable truth that gynecologists and sex educators alike will look away from. Pain is both downplayed in the "try a glass of wine beforehand" mentality and vilified by refering to all things sexual as "normal" except for pain. I most recently encountered this in Emily Nagoski's great must have book "Come As You Are." As I was happily devouring this book, feeling I had finally found sexual education that acknowledged the vast range of sexual experiences without a hiearchy, here was pain being called not normal. The nuance is that we should not have to accept it as our lot in life, but also, this may be our normal. (I still highly value this book and it's wisdom, and recommend it to most clients I work with, just unfortunate that the convesation of pain could not be more nuanced.)
I get it, the danger of normalizing sexual pain is to say that it is something we should learn to deal with. But isn't there a third way where we can be with the reality of what we are experiencing, have hope that there may be ways to troubleshoot it, while also not feeling we are the one abnormality in the most basic and fundamental way that we identify and relate? Yes, you deserve to get proper medical and holistic care to try to bring a resolution to your pain. And in the meantime, you are normal my dear, and still worthy of whatever sex life you want to have.
Why might sexual pain be so common? Well, simply put, because birth is so common. No, I have not given birth and if you are reading this and have genital pain, this may not be your root cause either, BUT surgery or anything with the potential to cause scar tissue may still be at the root for you. Did you know that it is possible to create scar tissue from a pattern of receiving penetration when your body is not sufficiently lubricated? I say this to normalize how prevalent scar tissue may be amongst our vulvas.
So what does scar tissue have to do with pain? Well, a lot. Essentially scar tissue forms along the myofascial planes we already have in all of our tissue. In trying to close a wound and heal, it shortens the distance between surrounding tissues and makes everything a bit more constricted and pulled in multiple directions. Scar tissue has it's own blood supply and thus it's own nerve plexus, so scar tissue is capable of creating pain and responding sharpely to being poked or touched, such as if one of our vaginal walls has torn and then the healed scar is encountered during penetration.
If our scar turns into an ahesion, which is common if we have inflammation (chronic illness, autoimmunity but also something as simple as a gluten allergy or lactose intolerance), then this now sticky scar can propogate (grow) and travel along your body's fascial planes, sometimes to areas far away from where your original injury occurred. The pull and restriction that can even be felt in a short scar can now be amplified across the body. Think, an appendicitis scar traveling up into your lower back. What might this do to one's posture? How might this take up space in the pelvic region and make the remaining space to inhabit smaller?
Those of us with vulvas encounter many things that could cause scar tissue. Birth, penetration, routine medical exams, endometriosis, and also how our reproductive organs are routinely removed as if there will be no complications. The scar tissue I have from removing my left ovary and a suspicious cyst is extensive. I can feel this deep into my abdominal cavity, down into my groin and my left leg. While this may not be the cause of some of my pain and disability, it is also not separate from it. There is a fiery nerve sensation at my belly button related to a 2020 multiple sclerosis relapse. I can also feel scar tissue there. This relapse most profoundly affected the mobility of my left leg. I can also feel quite a bit of scar tissue at my groin into this leg. Is it possible that the scar tissue is choking off the signals from my central nervous system to the rest of my body? Indeed this is possible.
Scar tissue is not to be downplayed. And guess what? It can be surprisingly simple and rewarding to work with. In two sessions with a student volunteer during my Sexological Bodywork training, scar tissue "melted" and created more body ease instantly. I have had many such sessions with clients since. Just a few weeks ago I received a session from a fellow STREAM (Scar Tissue Remediation, Education and Management) practitioner. She barely touched me from the outside, and one little shift in the scar tissue that must be over my bladder, led to a release that took my g-spot as epicenter of pain to actually being capable of pleasure. I have sought to avoid this area for years, and after our session I was actually able to squirt AND enjoy it! THIS IS HUGE. Future sessions are lined up now that I can see how much scar tissue is having an effect on mobility and ease within my body.
I have just completed my two year mentorship and certification of STREAM with Ellen Heed. If you think there is any reason at all that you may have scar tissue, or if you ever have internal or external pain related to your sexuality, you can look up both Sexological Bodyworkers or a STREAM practitioner near you. Some Sex Bods will be very able to assist, so find someone who is both comfortable and familiar with the power of scar focused work. I even coach my online clients to do this type of massage and body practices with their own scars from a distance, so if no one is near you for hands on work, do not despair- relief may be possible for what ails you!
Because I have never seen scar tissue work cause more problems, only relief, I have chosen to start with this work for the start of our investigation into the many ways that we may bring comfort to our bodies and our sex. Not sure how to identify scar tissue or what to do with it once you do? Check out this video I made of how to identify and begin your own scar tissue work. And after that, reach out to me to see about going into a deeper dive to resolve any pain, discomfort or unresolved emotions you are having related to your scar tissue and it's root.