Hello Yana,

I’m a college student and I feel like I’m emotionally ready to seek out romantic and sexual relationships. The problem is, I feel like I have a lot stacked against me physically. I’m living with a pelvic floor disorder that requires me to do daily physical therapy in order to keep my vaginal muscles healthy, which can sometimes feel like an uphill battle.

I am also on a very high dose of an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressant). While I feel so much healthier emotionally and mentally, I think that the high dose has led to anorgasmia (difficulty reaching orgasm after ample sexual stimulation). I’ve never had partnered sex, but so far, solo sex has just left me sweaty, dissatisfied, and sometimes sore.

All together, these things have discouraged me from earnestly trying to seek out any kind of partner. Is there any hope for me to find a sexual partner at this moment in my life, or should I wait on sex until I’m off of my meds sometime in the future?

Thank you,

Waiting it Out


Dear Waiting,

Medication has become a big, regular part of many people’s lives and, by extension, many people’s sex lives. Which is to say both that 1.) you’re not alone in this struggle and 2.) that waiting to begin enjoying a sex life until medication is no longer relevant to you might be unnecessary self-inflicted punishment.

First, let’s normalize the reality that having sex with another person is a custom job. This is true for me, for you, and for any potential sexual partners whether they have chronic pain, take meds, or are seemingly skating through life without an ailment or care in the world (um, who is that person? I would love to meet them). Building a new sex life with anyone requires conversation, specific directions, and sharing of our personal limits and enthusiastic Yeses.

People often fail to recognize that they have just as much power in a new sexual relationship to set the pace, mood, and content of the experience as their partners do. Empower yourself to set the bar as high as you’d like it to be in terms of making communication paramount.

This doesn’t need to be complex. How much would it set your mind at ease if a new partner were to ask you if there was anything that they should know about your body or what you want from sex? And meant it? And listened to your answers?

Well guess what? YOU can do that. You can open the door to honest and open conversations about your sex life!

What is it that you want from a sexual experience? For many people with pelvic pain, classic penetrative sex is one of the more physically aggravating sex acts. Good news! That’s not the only way to have and enjoy sexual pleasure with another person! And if you’re struggling with anorgasmia, exploring other avenues of sex and pleasure may be especially important.

Don’t underestimate the power of erotic massage, dirty talk, mutual masturbation, sex toys of all flavors, or anything else you can co-create with a partner that feels like sexy, connected fun.

Experiment with a variety of positions that take the pressure off of your pelvis. Using pillows or a Liberator wedge helps many with pelvic pain. A good lubricant is crucial if exploring penetration especially with a history of pain — Good Clean Love’s CBD CaraGold lubricant includes CBD oil (cannabidiol) from the cannabis plant as an ingredient (though they say it’s still condom/latex safe), which makes the lube have a slight pain-numbing quality to it (I’ve tried it — it’s real nice! Sorry, no, it doesn’t get you high).

I’m making a guess that you might suffer from vaginismus, an unfortunately popular chronic pelvic pain condition which, often has its roots in trauma of some kind. The good news is, vaginismus treatments that combine both physical and mental/emotional work report a nearly 100 percent success rate, making vaginismus one of the most treatable sexual problems. So, continue to tend to both your physical and mental health, perhaps with the help of a therapist.

Local holistic options to explore for healing physical trauma via vaginal/pelvic health can be found at Sacred Spiral Healing Arts in Easthampton (find them on Facebook) and at Purple Rose Healing Arts in Northampton (purplerosehealingarts.com).

Yana Tallon-Hicks is a relationship therapist, sex educator, and writer living in the Pioneer Valley. You can find her work and her professional contact information on her website, yanatallonhicks.com.