As a woman, it can be challenging to understand our body’s unique sexual response. For those with vaginismus, this difficulty is even more pronounced. Vaginismus is a condition where the muscles around the vagina involuntarily contract, making it painful or impossible to engage in sexual activity. One aspect of this condition is the impaired ability to read and correctly interpret our arousal levels. But a recent study has shown that there is hope for those struggling with this issue. Interoceptive awareness, or the ability to perceive internal bodily sensations, may play a critical role in how women experience arousal. In particular, women who are better at interoceptive awareness have a stronger correlation between their perceived arousal and their physiological arousal.
So, what does this mean for women with vaginismus or other sexual difficulties? It suggests that being more in tune with our bodies could help us have a more accurate sense of our sexual response. This is where mindfulness with arousal comes in. By practicing mindfulness with genital arousal, we can increase our awareness and understanding of our body’s sexual response, and cultivate a greater sense of self-acceptance and connection to our bodies.
Here’s how you can start practicing mindfulness with genital arousal:
- Create a comfortable and private space for yourself where you can focus on your body without interruption or distraction. It could be a quiet room, your bed, or even a favorite spot in nature.
- Take a few deep breaths to relax your body and bring your attention to the present moment. Focus on your breath and try to clear your mind of any distracting thoughts.
- Begin to focus your attention on your genital area, noticing any sensations, warmth, or tingling. Pay attention to the quality and intensity of the sensations and the emotions that arise.
- Observe these sensations with curiosity and openness, without trying to change or manipulate them. Allow yourself to experience these sensations fully, without judgment or shame.
- If your mind wanders, gently bring your focus back to the sensations in your genital area. Keep your attention on your body for as long as you can, allowing yourself to experience the fullness of the moment.
By practicing mindfulness with genital arousal, you can learn to be more present in your body and increase your awareness of your sexual response. This can help you understand your body’s unique cues and become more comfortable with your sexual experiences. It can also help you develop a stronger sense of self-acceptance and connection to your body, which can be especially important if you experience vaginismus or other sexual difficulties.
If you’re struggling with vaginismus or other sexual difficulties and want to develop a stronger sense of interoceptive awareness, working with a coach can be incredibly beneficial. We at Pain-Free Intimacy have developed an in-depth approach to sexual mindfulness to help you finally heal from the physical & emotional pain of vaginismus.
Handy AB, Meston CM. Interoceptive Awareness Moderates the Relationship Between Perceived and Physiological Genital Arousal in Women. J Sex Med. 2016 Dec;13(12):1907-1914. doi: 10.1016/j.jsxm.2016.09.018. Epub 2016 Oct 25. PMID: 27789208.