When I was 16 I tried having sex for the first time, and I was surprised by how excruciatingly painful it was. I knew it would hurt at first, that’s what everyone said anyways, but I never imagined it would feel like serrated knives between my legs, like fresh rope burn, like a ring of fire that burned for days afterwards. It was so painful it traumatized me – I wouldn’t speak to my boyfriend after that, we broke up, and I fell into a deep depression which I couldn’t truly share with anyone. Years passed before I would allow anyone to touch me, so scared was I of the consequences. At the same time, I yearned to be like everyone else and I pretended none of this was that big of a deal. I told myself I would get over it, that I just hadn’t met the right person, that I should wait until I was older to be having sex anyways. I was very depressed, the psychological toll of chronic pain was devastating. Because of the taboo around talking about sex, or having anything wrong with my “private area”, it would be years before I sought and received proper treatment.
Recently, I was interviewed by the BBC for a podcast called The Why Factor. The question they posed was why don’t we understand how the female orgasm works?And why isn’t sexual pleasure as well as pain research easily funded in the medical community? Why don’t more doctors know that sexual pain is emotionally and physically devastating, and why is treatment is so hard to come by?
“After years of scientific research, the male body is understood but when it comes to how women work, we are a long way behind. Why is there this gap in knowledge?
It appears research has been hindered by the assumption that the female body works in the same way as the male body and that for women, arousal is all in the mind. There’s also a general attitude that studying sexual pleasure isn’t important and that female orgasms aren’t important to study as they serve no purpose for reproduction.
Researchers are slowly correcting these assumptions and making surprising discoveries.
We’ll take you behind the scenes to two orgasm labs to bring you the latest research on how orgasms work for women. We’ll also hear from Callista, who struggled with excruciating pain during sex for many years but was told the problem was all in her mind. Her journey to diagnosis shows how little is known, even amongst gynocologists and doctors, about female sexual pleasure.” Listen here!
Presenter: Aasmah Mir
Producer: Phoebe Keane