What to do when sex is uncomfortable

If you read my last post, you know that Valentine’s Day was awash in disappointment and soreness. I cried, and it was three quarters frustration and one quarter emotional/physical reconnection with my love.

After learning my lesson once again that vaginal muscles need regular stretching just like any other muscle, I spent three mornings in a row doing just that. Then this weekend, our Sunday morning sex was so nice and pain free that I cried again. I had to assure B that it was all good tears this time. And Monday night, I managed to be awake and have enough energy at 9:30 to be amorous again, with happy results. I can’t even remember the last time we had sex two days in a row. And I think my cycle is finally over! I can totally grab my own boobs if I want! With no tenderness! We’ll see if this lasts more than a few days–but I shall celebrate while I can.

So, if sex is uncomfortable for you, here’s what’s worked for me. While alone, get comfortable, and do whatever you need to feel relaxed and/or sexy. I like climbing back into bed right out of the shower. Then, you know, go at it. Start small. Use just a lubed finger if you need to. Using your own finger helps you get to know what angle is best for entry. Propping up your hips might help. Go slowly. Breathe deeply. Gently press in all directions to start loosening those muscles. I find that giving attention to my clitoris with my other hand first works well. Being aroused first helps your body feel ready for penetration. I have two toys that I use: a slim one, and a slightly larger one that’s closer to the size of my partner. I get to be in control of the speed, pressure, and angle. Sometimes I don’t know how to tell my partner to shift, but when I have just a tool in my hand, I can manipulate it until it works for me. Once the toy is in, just let the body relax around it, let the muscles have a gentle stretch. Maybe move the toy in a circle with slight pressure to make sure all the muscles are getting stretched. Take it slow. Find out what works for you. Making this into a pleasurable orgasm session if you can is good! So your body can associate penetration and pleasure. Also take it slow on removal. It does get easier every time.

When it’s time for sex with your partner, use lube. “A little bit more than enough” is a good answer I’ve heard to “How much?” Both on yourself and on your partner. Make sure you’re feeling aroused before trying penetration. Go slow. If entry isn’t working, back up and try a different angle. Go slow. Once penetration is successful, tell your partner to hold still a moment so you can breathe and give your muscles a change to adjust and relax.

And there you have it, non-expert advice from me, a thirty-three-year-old woman with mild cerebral palsy who was a virgin not long ago.

Birth control, sex drive, cerebral palsy, and things

Before I launch into all the things on my mind, let me start with this: Recently, I was making dinner, singing along with my Disney playlist when B came home. I thought I should turn it off, so he wouldn’t have to hear Disney songs, and my singing along with them. But before I could turn off the music, B was hooking up my laptop to the speakers so the music could be heard all the better. Love.

And just so you know it’s not all love and bliss, let me add this. B and I were joking and he said, “You never listen to me.” Immediately I said, “Uh-oh, that’s one of those things that people say as a joke when they really mean it.” So again I’m reminded that I need to make efforts to be a better listener. Not being listened to by the person who loves you is a big and not great feeling to have! B feels that when he tells me things that I give responses that don’t require thought. At least, that’s what I got out of his muddled explanation. And it’s true–when he tells me about things at work, I don’t know what to say much beyond, “Oh,” “Uh-huh,” and “And then what did he say?” I think part of it has to do with multi-tasking (I’m usually cooking when he tells me about his day). We need to actually sit down and pay attention to each other. But there, I’ve been made to look again at my own faults.

Now then. Interwoven issues abound. I had my Nex.planon placed in September of 2012. The doctor told me that after the first three months, I’d have a sense of my body’s overall response to it. I had cycles in October and February, and then I didn’t have a cycle for seven months. I thought I was one of the lucky ones who would have no cycles or very infrequent ones. This was a very good thing, because the two cycles I did have that first year were quite long. This is not to say everything was fabulous those seven cycle-free months. There was almost constant breast tenderness and frequent uterus/ovary pains that made me feel like I could start my period any second even though I never did. Breast tenderness really sucks. I hate tensing up when B goes to bear hug me, or saying “Ow!” when he gives me a caress. Oh, the constant aches and tightness (in both uterus and breasts) sometimes drive me crazy!

Then, at the one-year mark in September 2013, my cycle appeared again. And then again in October, only a week after the last one had ended. Well, shit, I thought. What’s going on now? Then again at the end of December and a few days later at the beginning of January, and then at the end of January and a few days later in the middle of February. It’s like suddenly everything’s on double-time, and I’m spending half my life on my period. Argh!

I’ve had terrible breakouts, getting acne on my back and my neck and chest where I never had it as a teenager. 30-something skin does not recover from acne as well as teenaged  skin! I’ve felt ugly and gross and frustrated. Then there’s my weight. I’ve always been one to roll my eyes at hormonal weight gain. Weight simply corresponds to calories in/calories out. But with the crazy changes in cycles (and the tmi changes in the cycles themselves), the acne, and weight gain, I’m starting to believe that I actually do have side effects from my birth control. I googled changes after the one-year mark, and I’m not the only one to experience a big shift. To be sure, I haven’t gained a ton of weight, and I had been chalking it up to the holidays. I’ve been trying to stay down at the weight I was when I met B, and it’s only 7-8 pounds (but that’s a lot for a short person!). I usually see results on the scale when I rein in the snacking, and I’ve realized that since I’ve been on the birth control, it’s been frustratingly difficult to get any results. And I’m getting married. I’d like to feel good about my skin and my weight! Further, any unnecessary pound of fat I have puts that much more weight on my joints that are already working hard and feeling pain.

As I’ve said before, I think B and I need to be having more sex, not less. We had sex pretty regularly when I didn’t have cycles. But now… it isn’t easy to fit any sex in in between them! Obviously, we could have sex anyway, and we have, but I definitely prefer not dealing with/taking precautions about the mess. On Valentine’s Day, it had been 18 days for us. The weekend before I was actually willing, but B was sick! So on Friday, I got all ready and it felt good to be anticipatory, to surprise my man when he got home from work. But it was terrible. My body wasn’t really responding. I had had some alone time before B got there and figured I could get back into, but it wasn’t happening. Rather than continuing to have B work on my arousal, I just moved things forward. And entry was tight and painful. We added more lube. It just wasn’t good. I was so sad and frustrated (and now sore). Again I was reminded that my body needs regular stretching–vaginal muscles are just like every other muscle. Once again, who knows if my cerebral palsy is making things worse there or not? To top it off, my period decided to arrive once again. Sigh.

Today, (still lightly on my cycle) I used my toys to stretch. I had quite an amazing orgasm with my slender model, and I wished B were just a bit smaller… Then I used the bigger one, and there was no pain at all. Of course it’s fine when I’m the one in control of the pressure, angle, and speed. I just don’t want sex to be so complicated. It’s such a lovely, intimate thing when it works, and I miss it.

B and I are going to have to get used to having sex while I’m on my cycle, or I’m going to have to get this thing removed. I remember the year I had between the pill and Nex.planon though, and it was just as miserable in regards to pains and predictability. I’ve googled managing weight and hormones, and I’m trying (and sometimes failing) to get all the good things into my diet and all the bad things out, and we’ll just have to see what happens.

Cycle go away. Fat go away and muscles grow. Skin renew yourself. Body respond to stimulation. I’ve got a life to live, a man to love, and sex to have.