Sex - How do you know if you're doing it wrong?
A recent news article reported that a couple in China had been trying to conceive, without success, for four years, when the doctor noticed something very interesting...
Difficulty getting pregnant is something I see every week in my Hypnotherapy practice, but what made this article stand out to me was the fact that even though the couple reported that they were having regular sex, upon examination, the doctor discovered that the female was a virgin.
So what was happening?
It seemed that the couple had been 'doing it wrong' and actually having anal sex, and whilst that isn't wrong per se, it certainly isn't baby making sex! The story was picked up by the British press, but the original article was in the Guiyang Evening Post. The wife revealed that the experience was 'unusually painful' each time, but that she endured the pain in the hope that she would conceive.
This actually makes me really sad, because I see what couples go through when they are trying for a baby, so for this lady to have been experiencing physical pain as well as the disappointment, month upon month, of the negative pregnancy tests, must have been truly devastating.
I also feel very sad because the couple said that 'the family was giving them a lot of stress about it,' so along with feeling physical pain and disappointment, the couple were experiencing mental and emotional difficulty with very little or no support.
Although the report I read did say that couples so lacking in general knowledge are very rare, it led me onto thinking about sex education, and how we find out 'how to do it!'
These days, so much information is accessible via the internet, but how do we know that what our children are accessing is what we want them to learn about relationships, sex and love? We really don't.
A lot of our earliest knowledge about sex comes from the playground. Rumours and gossip with little substance. Our parents might tell us about 'The birds and the bees' but equally, they might not! We might have sex education at school, but this is sometimes delivered by teachers who lack knowledge and confidence in the delivery, and feel embarrassed themselves, in front of classrooms filled with awkward teenagers sniggering or looking at the floor. In fact, it is well documented that actress Helen Mirren decided to remain childless after watching a sex education film at school where a baby was being delivered. She found it so distressing that she developed an extreme fear of childbirth, known as Tokophobia, which can affect both women and men.
Learning often comes from experiences, but what if those experiences aren't helpful, as in the case with Helen Mirren, or if our experience is with a person whose expectation of what is acceptable and what is not acceptable is very different to ours? These things can change the way we think about sex forever. If we are shocked or frightened, or if something embarrasses us, it can affect the way we behave sexually, and sometimes, these things can be difficult to change, largely because it's such a taboo subject.
So who actually knows what is right and what is wrong, when it comes to sex? Well obviously, anal sex isn't going to lead to conception, but that is a very extreme example. I see men and women for sex therapy, and people's knowledge and expectation vary massively.
Talking to a therapist can help enormously, and although it might feel a little embarrassing at the start, that quickly passes. The key is to remember that it is normal to feel a little embarrassed, because problems with sex are often not openly discussed. The other thing to remember is that issues you are experiencing will be issues that the therapist has talked about many times before.
Men experiencing problems achieving or maintaining an erection often don't feel that they can discuss this with their family or friends, and often find that because of this, the problem gets worse. The same with premature or early ejaculation (which are different things) - the more a man worries about it, the worse the problem is likely to become. This can lead to stress, anxiety, depression and even the breakdown of a relationship.
Women might experience pain during intercourse. This pain might lead to her becoming tense before penetration, so increasing the pain, which might in turn lead to her rejecting sex. Again, this can lead to tension in relationships, along with stress, anxiety and possible depression.
What if you're gay, and you've hidden it all your life, or been led to believe that it is wrong? You may have spent years in heterosexual relationships and feel ready to leave that behind you, but you have no idea what to expect from same sex sex!
Working with a therapist can be enormously beneficial, to work through the emotional and psychological issues, but it is important to ensure that everything is physically fine. I always ask the men and women I see if they have seen their GP, and would always encourage this, to rule out any physical issues.
I then work with my clients to understand what is happening for them, what they would like to be happening for them, and importantly, what they expect to be happening for them. This helps me to build a picture of them, based on their experiences and knowledge, as I create a therapy plan for them, going forwards.
The Chinese couple at the start of this blog took away a text book and some verbal instructions from their doctor, and within a few months did conceive. So who is to say if what you are doing is right, wrong or somewhere in between? What is right for one person might be wildly wrong for another. If you are unsure, uncomfortable or unhappy, in any aspect of your sex life, there is help out there.
A knowledgeable, non-judgemental therapist will gently guide and coach you, and with increased knowledge and understanding, along with therapy and emotional healing, you will be able to enjoy a much more fulfilling sex life.