What if I want sex to hurt?

Several times throughout your blog you have said, “Sex should not hurt!” But, my question is: What if I want it to hurt? I feel like the only way I can orgasm is if there is an element of pain involved in sexual intimacy and the rougher the better. I have several issues/questions surrounding this:

1) As a child I experienced sexual abuse that involved bondage, violence and forced orgasm — does this pain “fetish” somehow mean I liked the abuse? I can see that the two are related but have finally come to a place where I can have sex and keep it separate from old memories/stay mentally present/etc. and the need for pain seems to have evolved from self-punishment driven to truly pleasure-enhancing. Am I a freak for feeling this way?

2) How does this fit into LDS teachings about how we are supposed to treat our bodies? How does it fit into what is known about normal human sexuality? Is it morally wrong to want this? Is it unhealthy to want this (provided there is no long term damage/serious injury)?

3)My kind husband feels conflicted and uncomfortable with this and is unwilling to cause me pain but also laments my lack of orgasms.

Possible directions I see are to either have a painless, orgasmless sex life; learn how to enjoy sex without pain, but how? and what if I truly do like pain?; or somehow find a way to feel pain that doesn’t make my husband uncomfortable, but, again, how?


This is a great question so thanks for posting it!  I’m going to try and start answering questions in shorter format than I normally do – so I can answer more of them – so please bear with me.


  1. When I say sex should not hurt – I’m speaking of unwanted pain which involves penile penetration into the vagina or not even able to enter the vagina.  These sexual disorders can include anything from vaginismus, to vaginal dryness to having cysts along the vaginal wall, etc.  Pain is a problem when it gets in the way of a woman’s arousal or ability to orgasm.
  2. The boundaries between pain and pleasure when sexually aroused are closely intertwined – this is normal.  Often, things we would consider painful when not aroused are not painful when we are aroused.  This can include anything along the spectrum from nipple stimulation to BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadomasochism, masochism; also includes themes regarding dominance/submission).
  3. Myths and discomfort around BDSM abound and it can be a touchy subject to discuss (i.e. your husband’s response which I’m sure comes from a loving place of not wanting to hurt you).  BDSM play can range from light spanking to more intense pain via whip usage for example.   It can also range from fantasy talk about dominant/submissive roles to actually having someone tied up to the bed post.  It’s interesting to see the wide range of feedback 50 Shades of Gray has received for example – which actually includes a good description of a range of BDSM activity as well as relational dynamics that go along with it.
  4. BDSM, correctly done, is a form of sexual play which couples can choose to engage in or not in their marriages.   By correctly done I mean: consenting adults in a healthy and trusting relationship, having a “safe” word where one person can have the play stop immediately if they become uncomfortable, where correct hygiene is used, and where caution is used to not cause serious bodily harm.  If any type of coercion is used or one of the spouses is participating only out of “duty” then this is not a healthy use of BDSM play and should stop immediately.  The church has been pretty clear about marital sexuality being up to the couple to navigate – as long as there doesn’t involve abuse, coercion and/or behavior which would be considered sinful (consensual partners including a third party in their sexual encounters for example).
  5. Sexual abuse has long term implications which can very much affect our sexual fantasies and arousal templates.  Often, this leaves survivors of abuse confused as to the role they played in the abuse itself (“Did I like it or encourage it somehow?” is a very common question.).  I want to emphasize strongly the following: whether or not you experienced orgasm during abuse, whether or not you enjoyed the attention the abuse offered, whether or not you loved the person who abused you: you are not to take one iota of responsibility for what happened to you.  Not one!!  And NO – you are not a freak!
  6. A healthy, loving marriage is actually a wonderful place to continue the healing you’ve already managed.  This can be done by exploring sexual play which involves comfortable levels of BDSM your husband could educate himself on.  Knowing this type of play can help you, instead of harm you, might peak his interest in different options.  It can also be done by exploring sexual play which does not include pain – so you don’t end up feeling “dependent” on pain for orgasm.
  7. I would recommend some sessions with a sex therapist to help you both explore these issues at a deeper level.  Good luck!

  • Julie

    Thank you for asking these great questions! I am going through similar stuff right now. As a young child whenever I got sick I was given an enema. One time I was even taken to some man’s house and given a colonic! I know that the people doing this to me thought they were helping me, but I was humiliated and felt like I was being abused. Fast forward 25 years to where I am now and the only way for me to have an orgasm is through anal stimulation & penetration. I don’t get it and it’s disturbing to me, but I want to feel good, so we keep doing it. I started seeing a therapist 4 months ago and she explained it to me this way. My body is taking it’s power back. It is taking something that was traumatic and painful to me and turning it into something that feels good and is pleasurable. My husband and I work together with the therapist on trust issues and the pain that I have grown up with because of the choices of my parents. I have a goal to have an orgasm without the anal stuff because I don’t want to be dependent on it. I don’t see how it is possible right now, but I believe that it can happen. I just have to keep peeling back the layers to get to the root of it all. I would definitely recommend seeing a sex therapist with your husband like Natasha said. It’s not easy to talk about stuff like this but it is bringing my husband and I closer together. Good luck to both of you!

  • Question Asker

    Thanks so much for that thorough, non judgmental response. It really helped clear a lot of things up for me in a setting that felt safe.

  • Anon123

    This is a thought provoking post… I too have a “thing” for pain in sex. In particular, I enjoy giving or receiving a spanking. My wife is unwilling to submit to a spanking and I respect her boundary so she spanks me from time to time. I admit it’s a little weird but I don’t see anything wrong with it in a committed and loving marriage. It is not abusive in any way, is fun, and stress relieving. I’d like to hear more about fetishes like this, how they form and if they cause problems. As for me, I was not abused in any way that I can recall. I was spanked as a child but it was not abusive. Thanks for the site.

  • http://conflictinghearts.com Vicki

    Interesting post. I was sexually abused by a child and rough, painful, bondage sex is the only thing that turns me on. After years of struggling with the issue, even though I’ve been single for 13 years, the desires are still there. I recently wrote a fiction novel about the same problem – a woman with a sexually abused past and masochist tendencies, who meets a man who is just the opposite, loving, gentle, and respectful. It’s called Conflicting Hearts, and I’m sure you understand the meaning behind it. I don’t have the answers, except to say it’ a real problem with many women that were sexually abused as children. I’ve received many, many emails from women who have read the book and totally related. Just know, you are not alone.