How Does Trauma Affect Your Sex Life? More Than You Might Think

Trauma describes a whole lot of profoundly negative experiences, major and minor. Witnessed or experienced, trauma memories lodge in the brain’s electrical pathways and can light up at random or be sparked by reminiscent sensory experiences—which burns those pathways deeper—which makes them fire more frequently—which can turn the mind into an internal combustion engine of anxiety and pain.

 

Sexual or otherwise, trauma is everywhere—around us and through us, in different degrees and with varying impacts. Understanding how trauma works in the mind and body can open up a lot of insight and empathy about our own and others’ behavior.

 

Regaining a sense of empowerment after acute or long-term trauma may seem daunting—but there are a lot of proven techniques and strategies you can use to form healthy habits and develop a sex-positive mindset.

 

Though I only accept a small number of clients for 1-on-1 hourly sex therapy for ongoing deep trauma work—my coaching and educational spaces are trauma-informed, both by personal experience and training. If there’s something you’d like to learn more about—or a story you think needs to be told, reach out and fill me in.

 

Otherwise read on to learn more about trauma and how to cope.

Loneliness & Companionship

In 2020 we all went through a collective trauma—and the symptoms are there, though it may take some time to recognize.
 
As our worlds reopen and society returns to some semblance of normal, it’s important to stay self-aware and mindful of stress, emotions, and habits left over from a whole year of uncertainty and powerlessness. Social connections can help renew a sense of belonging.
 
Maintaining close platonic friendships is just as important as working on intimate relationships, for managing mental and sexual health. Here are some suggestions for getting yourself out there.
 
Mindfulness and meditation

Anxiety & Mindfulness

What comes first? Thought? Emotion? Feeling?
 
When we experience any situation, we bring all of our past experiences with us. Our memories help us interpret what’s in front of us—which isn’t always a good thing if they’re negative. 
 
That’s where anxiety rears its ugly head. Bad memories make us think about danger, which triggers emotions, which activate our fight/flight response, which makes us think danger—triggering a feedback loop of anxiety.
 
Learn about Cognitive Restructuring for coping with anxiety and reframing your thought patterns.
 

PTSD & Sexual Health

Have you ever said something stupid at work and lain awake at night reliving it and kicking yourself into a frothy mess?
 
Believe it or not, that’s a very mild form of PTSD. Because the trauma was insignificant, the symptoms quickly fade. But ratchet up the seriousness of the trauma—and the severity of the symptoms grows exponentially.
 
Anxiety, insomnia, self-loathing, flashbacks, nightmares...learn how major & minor PTSD symptoms can affect your sexual health—and what you can do about it.
Depression, anxiety, and PTSD
 

Consent Culture & Sexual Trauma

Sexual violence statistics in America are a dismal display of a serious cultural problem. According to the NSVRC, 81% of women and 43% of men have reported some form of sexual harassment/assault.
 
Fact: 1 in 5 American women have survived attempted or completed rape. And 1 in 4 men have experienced contact sexual violence. Yet our culture dismisses, denies, and denigrates people who come forward seeking help.
 
That’s mass gaslighting, folks. Telling us we’re crazy or that it’s our fault. Convincing us it’s about longer skirts or watching our drinks or staying in groups. But we’re all susceptible to comfortable lies. So here’s how to recognize and resist gaslighting.
 

Phoenix Rising – Women's Group

For women who’ve experienced any form of sexual trauma (and let’s face it, it’s just about all of us) the world can feel like a dangerous and lonely place.
 
Anxiety and loathing can make sex the last possible thing you’d ever want—but healing your sexuality is important not only for relationships but also for regaining the self-empowerment that sexual trauma obliterates.
 
Phoenix Rising is a private Facebook group devoted to women supporting each other in sexual re-empowerment after trauma. Whenever it happened. However severe. Share your story, ask questions, and learn how to cope from women who understand what you’re going through.
 

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