Whenever I have sex with my boyfriend, I feel nothing. Please help?
Thank you for your question. It sounds as if you are describing numbness but as you have offered no more information, it is difficult to know what you mean by “I feel nothing” for example, do you mean that you feel emotionally cut off or perhaps physically numb i.e. the absence of sensation or even experiencing some sort of numbness after sex. Still, in this article, I am going to discuss a couple of things that could interfere with a woman’s ability to experience sexual pleasure.
There are a number of biological reasons that could interfere with a woman’s ability to enjoy sex. One common complaint is a sense of numbness – feeling ‘nothing good or bad’ – when it comes to sex. If this describes you, it is important that you see a doctor so you can get proper assessment.
The doctor is likely to check for illnesses such as diabetes or others that can interfere with sensation. There have been women who reported feeling ‘nothing’ only to discover they had normalised their discomfort from infections that they didn’t even realize they had.
Finally, they may ask what medications you’re taking and their intended purpose because different medications can have the sort of side effects that bring on that numbing or ‘checked out’ feeling, which then translates into your sex life. Whatever the case, be open and honest with your doctor so that they can know the appropriate steps to take.
You could be experiencing numbness due to physical trauma such as getting injured during a sport or accident. For this reason, your family doctor or gynaecologist will assess you for sexual or other trauma. If they do determine that your numbness may be as a result of some psychological issue, they will send you to a sex therapist, family therapist, psychologist, counselor or other qualified mental health professional for further assessment.
From a therapist’s perspective, we know that ‘feeling nothing’ is often another way of describing numbness and people often numb out of that which they consciously or subconsciously perceive to be potentially dangerous or hurtful to them. You can expect questions about whether you have encountered sexual violation of any kind, at any point in your life.
Unfortunately, many women who were molested as children grow up believing they needed to ‘get over it’ or ‘forgive and forget’ in their adulthood. Unfortunately, what ends up happening is subconsciously disconnecting from sexual pleasure as a way to keep a part of themselves safe from any future harm.
Some of that may manifest as feeling numb, disconnected or mentally/emotionally checked out where sexual pleasure is concerned.
If this is describing you, please seek support of a qualified mental health professional. It may be intimidating to think about because of the feeling that it will bring up some painful memories.
However, your therapist’s job is to offer you what we call “a safe holding space” which means that your sessions should feel safe, non-judgmental and welcoming enough that you will feel supported through the process, in and out of sessions.
There is no pressure to disclose anything until you feel comfortable and if you find that you’re struggling in this area, you should feel free to communicate as much with your therapist so that your professional relationship functions as it is meant to function.
One thing to consider is that non-sexual trauma e.g. a car-jacking or robbery can impact your sex life so if there has been any trauma, please do share this with your therapist as well.
Numbness during sex can also be as a result of social influences such as living a high stress life style e.g. unhealthy living and eating habits that leave your body too exhausted.
There are other factors such as getting triggered by information that shows up on your on social media e.g. if there is constant discussion of topics such as rape or murder — as has been the case this past week with regard to the rape and murder of a South African university student — you may find that you are turned off of sex even when your mind or body say different.
There is also the pressure that comes to perform or conform to certain societal norms such as dating, marriage, children, sex before marriage and so much more. If you find that you do not fit these expectations, you may feel additional pressure and stress thus making it difficult to actually experience pleasure when you’re ready for it.
Other social stressors include drugs or alcohol; your ability to experience sensation so if you are using, misusing or overusing any of these, it will be in your best interest to minimize or eliminate them.
I hope these broad strokes offer you a guideline as you seek answers. A woman’s body is built with many erogenous zones — some of which are exclusively for pleasure e.g. the pleasure bud, if you find yourself unable to experience any of that pleasure alone or with a partner, it is important to take that as a sign that something requires your attention so…attend to it. I wish you a sensational, pleasurable sex life.