Here are 6 ways to have healthy sex after trauma.
Sex after trauma? You might be thinking to yourself, “Well, I have never experienced anything traumatic.” And even if I had, it had nothing to do with sex”. But most people will experience some form of trauma in their lives. Most of us think the word trauma only refers to things like sexual assault, partner abuse, or surviving a war zone. But no!
What is trauma?
As per Cassandra Corrado, a sex educator explains that Trauma is any deeply distressing experience that has a lasting impact.
- A particularly rough break-up or divorce could be traumatic.
- Major illnesses, like cancer or difficult pregnancy, can be traumatic.
- A global pandemic or a situation where it is unsafe to be in close contact with other people could leave us with trauma.
Trauma can include both interpersonal experiences like partner abuse and the ways that we personally experience big social things like a pandemic or systemic racism.
All types of traumas, no matter the root cause, can have sexual side effects. For every side effect, there is a coping mechanism or healing strategy that can help.
The facts related to sex after trauma
When we experience something traumatic, our brain tries to protect us. Sometimes, even long after the traumatic experience is actually over. It may look like our brain is inhibiting our ability to feel our own emotions and sensations. Sometimes that looks like our brain is making us super aware of any possible threat, which, counterintuitively, can make us feel a lot less safe day-to-day. When it comes to sex, those manifest in two main ways.
Sexual avoidance is what you see in movies and TV shows more often. It is when you avoid sexual scenarios because they make you feel unsafe, out of control, or simply not enjoyable for you anymore.
Sexual fixation is less commonly represented in the media but not less commonly experienced. That is when you use sex to regain a sense of control over your body. So, you might have sex more often, with atypical partners or in atypical situations. Some people even experience both at different points in their recovery journeys. And that is fine, too.
Neither experience is the right or wrong way to cope with past trauma. They are just ways.
Your traumatic experiences may have tricked you into believing that you are not worthy or capable of having good, healthy sexual experiences anymore. That voice is lying to you.
You deserve good, healthy, enjoyable sex.
Rebuilding a positive relationship with sex after you have experienced trauma might not be easy, but you and your pleasure are worth the effort.
How to have Healthy sex after a trauma?
1. You are in control
Remind yourself that you are safe, in control, and that you can stop anything at any time, even if someone previously took that power away from you. You get to set the pace here.
So, don’t stress about things happening at the right time. The only right time is when you feel ready. Remind yourself of this as often as you need to.
2. Your ways of doing it
Identify any moments or activities when you feel pleasurably present. This doesn’t mean being anything sexual. It could be reading a book, gardening, doing yoga, or anything else. Are there particular elements that you feel comfortable doing those things with? And can any of those translate to solo or partnered sex?
If you feel comfortable with reading, then erotica might be a helpful bridge. Or if gardening helps you feel more grounded, then bringing freshly cut flowers that you grew yourself into your bedroom could help you feel more at ease.
3. Rebuild your relationship
Work on rebuilding your relationship with a positive, non-sexual touch. It might seem irrelevant, but if you are struggling to feel safe or comfortable with non-sexual touch, you will probably struggle with a sexual touch too. Start with self-touch. Brushing your hair, massaging yourself, or using fabrics and textures to rub against your skin. You can also ask a partner or trusted loved one to help you with this.
4. Play around with a sexual touch
You don’t need to go straight for your genitals. Take your time to relearn how and where you would like to be touched. It may be different than it was before, and that is totally okay. If using your hands just feels like too much, you can use a toy or even the water pressure from your shower to ease your way in. яндекс
Remember, you can stop at any time.
This isn’t a “rip the band-aid off” situation. It’s like retraining your brain so that you have control over your body’s situation. This takes time, patience, and attention. You can even set a timer for yourself so that you don’t feel pressured to keep going if you don’t want to.
5. Share info with your partner
If you want to have partnered sex again, the first thing to know is that you don’t have to disclose your trauma to your partner, but a little info can be helpful. If you want to keep it vague, go with sentences like,
“I have had experiences that make it hard for me to be fully engaged during sex. Sometimes I get overwhelmed, triggered, or disconnected entirely.”
This will prepare them for a negative reaction from your side.
6. Use grounding techniques
Take a break if you notice any negative reactions while having a solo or partnered sex. Describe your surroundings to yourself out loud. Put your feet flat on the floor, and take a long sip of cold water. These are all grounding techniques and help you to recognize your feelings without being consumed by your reaction.
Some people also find that their desires and fantasies can change after trauma. If this is happening, take the time to get to know you without any pressure. Sometimes our experiences change us a little.
But you are still worthy to have the best. Keep reminding yourself!