The Big ‘O’ & It Ain’t Oprah
By: Faith Pearce
(4 min read)
This week I want to talk about something rarely spoken about unless it’s said in jest or behind closed doors with your best friends. Sometimes it is never spoken about at all, regarded as inappropriate or taboo. This is something that affects almost half of all women and can seriously affect relationships and intimacy. If you are thinking ‘get to the point, what are you talking about’ – take a deep breath. I am getting there. Just as I state in my introduction, I am one of the many…it has taken me years to get to the point where I can openly talk about this subject.
At age 14, I started on a pill due to heavy painful menstruation that would leave me doubled over in pain. My periods settled, and I had a three-year relationship where I enjoyed intimacy. This all changed when I stopped taking birth control pills five years later, I began to have several issues: irregular menstruation, mood swings, infertility, pain during sex, and low libido. I didn’t know at the time that the diagnosis of Sexual Dysfunction even existed, therefore, I thought I was broken.
I married at 20 and went through the motions of what I thought was expected of me, but I became gravely disconnected to my emotional and physical feelings. I dreaded intimacy in any fashion and just wanted the task to be completed. To say I had very little interest in any intimacy would be the understatement of the year. I had no sex drive at all. It didn’t matter what I did. Even on my own I could not relax or reach the big elusive O.
I felt embarrassed I couldn’t perform, and slowly continued to disengage more and more. I gave up on physical relations as I felt absolutely nothing. One might say robotic in a sense. It took me until my late 20’s and beyond after a concentrated focus on counseling, relaxation techniques, breathing, meditation, and lots of practice. I said it. Some might think that doesn’t sound that bad, lol. Hey, artists and athletes practice.
Personally, I felt nothing more frustrating than never being able to let go or worse yet not being able to feel connected to myself or others. Finally, I arrived! TMI? Well, see, I told you many people don’t want to talk about this subject, yet it is a subject that most likely affects millions of humans, every day.
But yet, I wouldn’t dare tell anyone what I was feeling. Why? Because I felt abnormal and felt the subject was intended to be a private matter never to be discussed. People would think I was crude or just laugh. I felt ashamed and abnormal. But it turns out I’m not alone.
What is Sexual Dysfunction (SD)? Apparently, the World Health Organization and Wikipedia have talked about it. So, I am! By definition…
Sexual dysfunction is difficulty experienced by an individual or partners during any stage of normal defines sexual dysfunction as a “person’s inability to participate in a sexual relationship as they would wish”
When I realized that 50% of women will have persistent problems with sexual function, I thought it was time for me to break down my own taboos. If I can’t speak freely, I am being part of the problem. This subject, whether a struggle or success, needed to become comfortable for me to discuss and absorb as a “normal” and important part of life. And the other side of the “difficult to talk about” coin – whether you are in a relationship or not – physical love should be a healthy part of our life.
If you are struggling with sexual dysfunction in a relationship, then it can lead to the other partner feeling rejected or undesired. Which often is not the case.
As the years have gone by, I have slowly connected with my sexuality to recon fine and accept it as an important part of myself. I also recognize it is also an important stress release. Much more fun than running!
I know I have focused mainly on women here and I know this is a big issue for men. I acknowledge you all as well. I am only speaking to my perspective.
So, what causes Sexual Dysfunction? Many things. According to WebMD – one of the most reliable Google doctors. Lol. Medically if you have heart disease, diabetes, thyroid disease, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) or you’re just tired, it’s hard to get in the mood. Radiation or scarring from surgery (apparently there is a thing called a Husband Stitch, when a woman has an extra stitch following a tear during childbirth, as I found out on TikTok) as well as some STDs can have an impact.
Shall we continue…pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, menopause, and Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) to name a few more physical conditions that can cause SD, as well as… mental and emotional issues like depression, anxiety, stress, and low self-esteem can be culprits. Then there is the whole other category of past sexual traumas including abuse which impact us. Oh, and let’s not forget how nearly every medication affects some part of the body as well as other drugs and alcohol.
So where am I going with this…there is hope. If you have ever had any issues such as a lack of interest in sex or anything mentioned above, please speak to someone. It isn’t something to be ashamed of and can occur for many reasons as you can see – and at any point in time in your life. I also have to say, it can improve. Don’t suffer in silence like I did for years thinking I was weird and feeling like something had died inside.
Intimacy either with someone or with yourself is a beautiful thing. Something personal and private, yes, but also something that I no longer feel ashamed about.
It is an act of self-love to know and respect your body. When something doesn’t feel good or feels off, it’s perfectly ok and healthy to honor that. When it becomes the norm, that’s when we need to look at whether something else is happening in the background, and not accepting this is the new normal.