How Trauma and PTSD can impact your sex life

Publication Date: August 17, 2023

Trauma is a ubiquitous and often deeply disturbing aspect of the human experience. It can have a profound impact on every aspect of our lives, including our sex lives. Let’s  explore the ways in which trauma can affect our sexual functioning and offer some practical advice for managing the challenges that arise as a result.

Firstly, it’s important to understand what we mean by trauma. Trauma is a psychological response to a deeply distressing or disturbing event or experience. Traumatic events can be caused by a variety of different experiences, such as war, sexual assault, natural disasters, or car accidents. Trauma can leave a lasting impact on a person’s mental and physical health, often leading to the development of PTSD.

PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, is a mental health condition that can develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. People with PTSD may experience flashbacks, nightmares, and intense emotional distress related to the traumatic event. PTSD can impact a person’s daily life and make it difficult to function in social, work, or intimate settings.


How Trauma and PTSD Impact Sexual Functioning

So, how does trauma impact our sex lives? Trauma can have a significant impact on our sexual functioning in a number of ways. Firstly, it can lead to a decreased interest in sex, also known as low libido. This can be due to a variety of factors, such as feelings of anxiety, depression, or guilt related to the traumatic event. Additionally, a person with PTSD may feel disconnected from their body or may have difficulty experiencing pleasure during sexual activity.

Trauma can also make it difficult for a person to become sexually aroused. This can be due to feelings of fear, anxiety, or shame related to the traumatic event. Arousal difficulties can make sexual activity feel uncomfortable or even painful. For men with PTSD, erectile dysfunction (ED) may be a concern. ED is the inability to achieve or maintain an erection that is firm enough for sexual activity. PTSD can lead to ED by causing feelings of anxiety, stress, and fear that interfere with sexual arousal.

In addition, trauma can cause a person to experience pain during sexual activity. This may be due to tension in the pelvic floor muscles, difficulty with vaginal lubrication, or psychological factors related to the traumatic event. In some cases, trauma can lead a person to avoid sexual activity altogether. This may be due to a fear of triggering memories related to the traumatic event or a fear of experiencing negative emotions during sexual activity.



So, what can we do to manage the sexual challenges that arise as a result of trauma?

Firstly, seeking professional support is key. Many Talktime therapists are trained in working with trauma survivors and can help you work through your emotions related to the traumatic event and develop strategies for managing sexual challenges. It’s also important to take things slow and be patient with yourself. Communicate with your partner about what feels comfortable and what doesn’t, and take breaks as needed.

It’s also important to understand that trauma can impact our sex lives in many different ways, and that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Each person’s experience of trauma is unique, and the impact on their sex life will be equally unique. That being said, recognizing the impact of trauma on our sexual functioning and seeking professional support is an important first step towards managing the challenges that arise.




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