How Stuck Emotion Can Cause Genital Numbness
Have you ever felt numb or shut down in your genitals?
Over the years I’ve worked with many clients who arrived to their first session with little access to their felt sense of erotic aliveness.
Some might struggle to feel pleasure during penetrative sex or to have an orgasm. Some have even wondered if they’re asexual.
Overall there’s just a kind of… Meh feeling. Or maybe even a deeper sense of uncomfortable “Ick”.
They feel understandably confused. On one hand they can feel an inner pull towards their erotic expression – There’s something more. On the other hand their body is giving them messages that pleasure is offline.
So What’s the Deal?
The genitals are one of the most densely innervated parts of the the body. They are deeply responsive to both physical and emotional experiences
If we have chronic stress or grew up with sexual shame the pelvis can begin to brace as a way to protect ourselves. Overtime all of the tissue can begin to become less sensitive.
Other things that can cause this response are medical surgeries, child birth, or touch/penetration that happened before we were ready.
So what do we do about it?
So much of this phenomenon is a result of our bodies trying to feel a deeper sense of safety and limit a sense of discomfort or overwhelm. Working through the nervous system we can begin to soothe the defensive responses and reestablish the communications lines.
Our nervous system has a memory of all of our lived experiences. Even when we don’t hold onto something consciously past experiences of danger live in our bodies until we feel safe enough to release them.
The first step in creating a deeper felt sense safety to allow this process to occur is something called resourcing. It’s the act of exploring little micro sized experiences of pleasure, slowly building our inner capacity to be with the good.
Voice and Choice
Often times we have disconnected with our genitals because at some point being in our body felt overwhelming. Often our preferences were not safe to bring or those preferences were overridden.
Working with voice and choice can be an incredibly healing practice –
Choice – What is your body’s somatic response to closeness or space? Are you able to discern when something feels good/not good? Given some options what do you prefer?
Voice – How do I speak up and bring my preferences one I notice them? How do I advocate for my boundaries in relationship to others? Can I feel empowered to bring my yes/no?
When we feel empowered to hold preferences and boundaries the body’s aliveness no longer has to go into hiding – It naturally begins to restore.
Reestablishing Communication – Genital De-armouring
Tuning into our body is a little bit like exercising a muscle. The more we use it, the easier it becomes.
The process of re-sensitizing tissue genital tissue that has developed somatic pain or numbness is called de-armouring. When we de-armour genital tissue it may go through the following phases on it’s way back to sensitivity, pleasure and aliveness.
Numbness – No sensation, or very little sensory information
Pain – There is chronic pelvic tension or painful sex
Irritation – Not exactly pain, but a sense of unease. Sensation feels uncomfortable or “icky”.
Function – Health is restored to the tissues. Sensation, pleasure and aliveness are online.
Some ways to begin working with re-establishing the felt sense of one’s genitals are to work with a somatic practitioner or a sexological bodyworker. They can work with a number of interventions like supporting you to connect to your body, process trauma and build felt experiences of healthy boundaries. A sexological bodyworker is also trained to offer therapeutic pelvic and genital massage. You can also explore self massage and genital mapping at home with something like the cervix wand
Ruling Out Other Health Concerns
When considering if genital de-armouring work is right for you it’s important to rule out other health concerns. There can be other valid medical reasons why sensation is impacted in the genitals. It’s important to consider your history – When did this start, what events happened around it and how rapid was the onset?
It’s also very normal for valve owners to experience a change in sensation as a result of menopause, the vaginal tissues become thinner and less lubricated. If this is the case for you know that amazing sex is still something you can absolutely have! You will simply need to explore some new strategies for woking with your body.
If you’re experiencing genitals numbness know that there are absolutely things you can do to return to erotic wholeness. Sex can feel pleasurable and joyful for everyone involved. It’s a common experience to have numb or painful sex in a world with so much repression, misinformation and trauma in this realm – Support does exist!!