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pain – it’s a fine line

by – Kai, lead somatic sexologist

In this blog article I explore pleasure-pain states and how you can affect these through sexological bodywork, orgasm, massage, touch and cognition. If you suffer from chronic pain from any cause in your body, or your genitals and pelvis, this article will be on interest to you. Even if it is an episode of acute pain such as a headache, or sprain/strain you might want to read on.

Like many of us I have experienced acute and chronic pain. Without giving you a complete list of my medical history, my chronic pain stems from previous surgical procedures, leaving me with scar tissue. I also suffer from migraines/and sinus headaches – this type of pain is acute, intolerable and often debilitating.

Over the years I learned how to manage this pain by using a combination of drugs such as Paracetamol, Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Codeine, Oxycodone and caffeine. You can become reliant/dependent on analgesic drugs which is not a good thing. There are alternative options though which I use – and go on to discuss.

The way we think about pain is rapidly changing. Much of it has to do with what science is discovering about our brains. Our brains are plastic, and believe it or not, over time with guidance you can change the direction of pain in your brain. How do we do this? We use pleasure and harness neuroplasticity. Who would’ve thought the antidote for pain would be pleasure? Natures analgesia provides effective relief as pain and pleasure centers in our brains share the same circuits. These signals originate from the nucleus accumbens in your brain, that are involved in motivation, pleasure and reward. These areas respond to sensory input from the body, including emotional reactions – ideas and thoughts.

Neurotransmitters relating to pleasure are the opposite to pain. When you experience a situation you are either being dominated by the pain or pleasure signals in your brain. These are largely due to sensation mixed with emotions and thoughts, and when faced with persistent chronic pain, pleasure falls to the wayside. To overcome this is to dominate the brain with pleasure through touch therapy and orgasm. By doing this we override pain. You might be fearful that touch will increase pain – soothing touch actually dampens the nervous systems response to pain. We are all generally wired by touch when we are born, and care givers often provide soft touch to soothe pain or emotional states. If we touch our bodies softly our pain signals will eventually become normal again.

However, for some people pain and eroticism go hand in hand. Pain is actually pleasurable to them, for example the BDSM community. Again that’s because the wiring in the brain is sharing the same circuits. Some people can even thrive on emotional pain. That is over time they have learned that emotional pain responses/experiences offer a sense of comfort to them. This is a massive area of inquiry/discussion and not for here. Maybe a future blog article!

My first line treatment for a migraine/headache is to have an orgasm by way of masturbation. This is an effective way of aborting my headache. Depending on the level of pain I am experiencing is often synergistic with a prescription or over the counter drug. Orgasm can be attributed to a reduction in pain, relieves tension, creates muscle relaxation and feelings of warmth. These can be related to the effects and release of Oxytocin. Some practical information about Oxytocin can be found here.

Varying types of touch and differentiation between pain and pleasure helps overcome chronic pain states. Being guided and learning to self sooth will also provide you with the comfort that you need when pain situations occur. There is nothing more profound than professional sexological bodywork involving touch/massage that includes (body/and or genitals), (with/or without orgasm) to manage chronic pain states.

Sexological bodywork is beneficial to woman who suffer from vulva or vaginal pain especially in conditions such as vaginismus and vulvodynia. External/internal therapeutic massage of the mons pubis/vulva/vagina can provide an immense amount of relief. Woman can also learn more about their genitals and how to manage their own pain when receiving therapeutic genital massage. Of course men can also experience  penis, scrotal and pelvic pain. Sexological bodywork specialises in genital touch/massage and has a unique understanding of genital anatomy, relaxation methods how to work with these areas.

Some healthcare professionals might not support sexological bodywork for chronic pain states because of taboo, shame reactions to genitals, touching of genitals or the whole body in an analgesic capacity. However, neuroscience and research into touch therapy and orgasm support the modalities we provide at Polysoma. My response to professionals and the wider community who have shame reactions or find touch therapy wrong is to douse you in empathy. If you are someone with these feelings, you might want to check in with yourself. Or you can read my blog article of sexual shame here.

No one should have to live in pain.There is certainly nothing wrong with feeling pleasure in a professional setting that has the intention of educating and alleviation of client suffering. If we can relieve pain, I think we are doing well. Is that not the ultimate goal?

Come to think – It’s a fine line between pleasure and pain. The Divinyls were clearly ahead of neuroscience at the time, they just didn’t know it. If you have time and would like to learn more about pain have a look here (it’s a lengthy article – make sure you grab a cup of tea).

If you are someone who suffers from chronic pelvic, genital, or body pain and you want to take control of this please make an appointment with me to discuss modalities that may be of help to you.