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 www.nva.org.
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 www.apa.org.
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.