Living With Painful Intercourse: So, Um, We’re Dating Again?

My physical therapist has forbidden me from having sex. Of ALL kinds.

So we’re a little frustrated around here, to say the least. No sex. At all! No intercourse, it goes without saying, but no oral! No jobs of varying natures! Nothing!

I understand my physical therapist on this point, though – even if the point doth displease me. The reality is that I need to reset my body; I need to start back at square one, emotionally and physically. There are so many emotions and neuroses (probably not the right word) wrapped up in this condition. The cause may start out being entirely physical, but then the cycle that perpetuates it becomes psychological, too. And it takes a toll on the relationship. You start seeing yourself as the giver of sex, not the one who gets to receive it. You start resenting the expectations from those around you that you should continue providing sex whenever it’s asked of you because, you know, you don’t want to let your poor husband suffer, sexless, do you?

So, the physical therapist said, for a little while at least, no sex. Instead, we’re to go back to the basics, to the romance. Remember when you first started dating your beloved? Maybe it was months ago, maybe it was years ago, but there was so much intensity and sweetness there. Things were new. The sense that you had someone who cherished you was intoxicating, and just being close and near to that person was enough to – ah! melt you. In some ways, this feeling never leaves, but it does get obscured by the rhythm of routine and habit. Typically, I would argue for routine and habit, because these lead to skilled sex between partners. But in our case, routine and habit are not so great. We don’t have a routine and habit of good sex; ours is built around pain, frustration, dissatisfaction, forbearance, and a little grief mixed in for good measure. The moments of physical pleasure just aren’t enough to overwhelm the weight of routine and habit; not for us.

So even though I’m missing the – ahem – physical release, I am sort of looking forward to this whole no sex thing. Maybe we’ll cuddle up on the bed and watch a movie, or just kiss for awhile. When was the last time you made out with your partner? No, I don’t mean as foreplay. Just to make out? I can’t recall the last time, personally. Maybe we’ll do some light touching, but nothing too serious, just taking it slow and figuring this whole thing out again, from the start, like it’s new and fresh.

I wouldn’t wipe away the experiences we’ve had so far, but it will be sweet, indeed, to set about redefining what sex is for us. It is not pain, frustration, dissatisfaction, forbearance, and a little grief. It is intimate, personal, warm, close, blistering hot, and fulfilling – even if, for the time being, the sex act itself never enters the picture.

By Michelle Miller

Michelle Miller is a twenty-something blogger, cook, freelance writer and editor living in Seattle, Washington. She’s a feminist trying ever-so-hard to embrace her spaces, conventional or not. She looks forward to numerous bad hair days, burnt cremes, a soapbox or two, and maybe (just maybe) a yellow polka-dot bikini in the years ahead.

14 replies on “Living With Painful Intercourse: So, Um, We’re Dating Again?”

I might be missing part of the story but have you been to your OB-GYN?  Maybe you have a tipped uterus or endometriosis or some other physical problem that is at least contributing to your issues.  My daughter is studying to get her doctorate in physical therapy and to be honest with you . . . .PTs are not trained to deal with sexual issues.  I am not sure why you are receiving care from your PT for this specific issue.  But I do understand how frustrating this problem can be for you and I wish you all the best in finding a solution to it.

[M] QoB –   Thank you for pointing me to the posts to bring me up to date.   I had a feeling that I didn’t know everything to know.


To Michelle Miller,

You are so brave to share your experience with so much openness and honesty and yes, I think your humor gets you far too.   Surely you have already helped someone else by sharing your story.    Everyone needs to know to trust your gut instinct when it comes to your own body.  Just because one doctor dismisses you, you have to keep looking til you find the right doctor that can help you.  Today . . . you are my hero!

I think it’s just really easy to forget physical affection after a while. I’m hoping this will remind us of what it’s like to, you know, just touch each other, without the expectation/burden/responsibility of sex.

It’s encouraging to hear that it helped you rediscover that fire with your partner.

Making out is awesome. :}

Leave a Reply