December 10, 2009

Q&A: I Feel Restricted In My Sex Life With My Girlfriend

It can be difficult not to take limits on the ways you can express your attraction to your girlfriend to heart or to feel frustrated by these restrictions.

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Question: My girlfriend doesn’t enjoy having oral sex done to her because she says it brings back bad memories. She also says it hurts after a few minutes of intercourse. It has become a routine where she first masturbates, has an orgasm to make herself wet enough, and then we have intercourse. I feel really constricted in what I can and can’t do. Any tips?

I’m sorry to hear that your sex life isn’t as enjoyable or as exciting as you wish it were and that you feel limited in the ways that you can express your affection to or attraction for you girlfriend. It can be difficult not to take those types of limits to heart or to feel frustrated by these restrictions.

It sounds as though your girlfriend, too, experiences both emotional and possibly physical difficulties in regard to her sexuality. I can’t help but wonder, for example, what she means by oral sex bringing back bad memories for her. Everyone is entitled to keep secrets that make sense for them and it is certainly not the case that she should have to share information with you if she is not yet ready or able to.

History of Sexual Abuse

However, if she has a past history of having been abused as a child or if she had uncomfortable, painful or nonconsensual experiences of sex as a teenager or adult, it is very possible that this past continues to have an impact on her. She may or may not be ready to deal with these issues either on her own or with a therapist, but at some point she may find that in order to have a more comfortable, pleasurable or satisfying sexual experience, that she may need to.


In terms of vaginal touching, does she not want you to touch her vaginal because of these same bad memories? Or does it hurt for her vagina or vulva to be touched for other reasons? Some women – perhaps as many as 10 to 15% of women – experience genital pain that can result from daily activities such as bike riding or sitting at a desk, as well as from sexual activities.

To learn more about vulvodynia (which means vulvar pain), you or your girlfriend can visit the web site of the National Vulvodynia Association, which is

More Information

If your girlfriend has a history of having been sexually abused or assaulted, she may find it helpful to read The Courage to Heal or to meet with a therapist. She can find one through the American Psychological Association’s web site which is

In the mean time, you two may also be able to find comfortable ways of connecting in intimate ways that take you away from the unsuccessful things that you’ve tried together and more into new ways of exploring. Consider getting together and reading For Each Other: Sharing Sexual Intimacy for creative ideas about exploring together.

  • Bryan

    You're not alone. I too have had problems, I've always enjoyed giving and receiving oral sex. To my wife (2yrs) it is painful to her while I give oral. Her response is it hurts, like a tickle but not a good feeling tickle, don't even talk about stimulation with a finger (mine or her's), it's a no no and she has never masturbated. When dating, she didn't want oral all the time and when she did, she rarely wanted to orgasm that way. She is very insecure about her body. She has delt with anxiety problems,, more so, quick temper tantrums, we got her on prozac,,, severly reduced her sexual activity and this year when her dose was increased it seems like 1-2 positions is all she wantes when we have sex, no exploration. She had been molested one time as a child. though she denies it having any affect on her, I believe it does. For the past 2 years, our sex life is crap, once every 2-4 weeks. I don't know where to turn or what to do, we have discussed the testerone patch but do not know if that will help or advertly change her mood, welbutrin was NOT the answer. She is not into porn for an openness to learn as it is unchristian-like. I don't know how to approach this subject with her without having her think all I want is sex.

  • if you love your girlfriend…just dont worry about it and you can make best friends with your hand