Do love

do love - when sex hurts there is hopeAs February comes to a close, I wanted to share an amazing message of what love is from a couple who knew pain and hardship in ways most of us will never experience.  Three years ago a woman named Carol shared this post about her husband in the midst of his four-year-long battle with leukemia.  And while I realize pelvic pain isn’t leukemia, I think many of us who have experienced what painful sex can do to a marriage agree with her thoughts on love.  You can read the full post on, but here is an excerpt.

What is love without a little proof? What is love without inconvenience and without sacrifice? It’s hollow. It’s empty. It isn’t real. One thing is sure, we don’t need to test each other’s love. That’s a game that will backfire and destroy. Life does enough testing on its own. Medical challenges, financial struggles, circumstances and difficulties of all kinds happen. They really do happen. Sometimes it’s a slow boil over time and sometimes it comes suddenly out of the blue. Love isn’t always pretty, and it most certainly isn’t always convenient. It doesn’t always feel good, but it is always good. It always encourages and lifts up. It always makes us better people. Love can seem like an intangible, but it isn’t because love is something you do. We feel love and we say love, but it isn’t real until we do love. Continue reading

Traveling with pelvic pain

traveling with pelvic pain - when sex hurts there is hope

Sitting in an airport waiting for my flight home, I got to thinking about how differently I travel these days.  Traveling with pelvic pain can be difficult which leads some pelvic pain sufferers choosing not to travel at all.  I am certainly more selective about my travel plans and have learned some ways to help reduce the pain that typically comes with traveling.

1. Pack the essentials

Travel light, or be prepared to ask for help.  Continue reading


alone - when sex hurts there is hopeI don’t like to admit it, but there are some times when I wish I wasn’t alone. I occasionally have those moments when I wish things were a little different. Most of the time I don’t think about it, or when I do I can’t get past the fact that relationships are hard and, frankly, not always worth it. When I do long for someone to love me I don’t think about my previous relationships. That is not the love that I want. I want someone to love me for me—for who I truly am, for who God sees me as. I try to believe in my heart that it’s possible, that maybe one day someone will love me like that.

I can see how I’m healing. I can feel it. Continue reading

I still need healing

I was very much reminded today about how much I still need healing. The sermon series that my church is speaking on is about doing love and sex God’s way and today’s message was about how to have great sex (no, I’m not kidding, that was seriously the topic). So before the pastor began they had a special music solo—a love song. It was a great song but as I started listening to the words I just wanted it to hurry up and be over. The soloist was singing about what love is like—what it’s supposed to be like but wasn’t for me. The chorus said something about give your all to me and I will give my all to you. I’m grateful the lights were low so I wasn’t quite so noticeable as I dug out whatever tissue I could find from my purse. Just hurry up and finish this song I kept thinking, trying to shift my thoughts to any distraction I could find.

And then there was the sermon message. I guess I should’ve known, I should’ve expected that a message about great sex would be difficult for me to hear. The pastor did a good job and shared important principles, but it just made me sad. It reminded me of the hurt, it reminded of how far from that ideal my marriage had been, and it reminded me of how broken I still am. I think the principle that hit home most was how great sex is secure. It is safe—there is no judgment or condemnation—you can be completely vulnerable. That is certainly a big piece of the healing puzzle for me. I never truly felt secure in our sexual relationship.

In the past few weeks God has been giving me glimpses of how He is doing His work to heal me in this area. I have begun to realize how I never feel secure enough in my I still need healing - when sex hurts there is hoperelationships with men to be vulnerable. Obviously the true place for full vulnerability is in a marriage relationship, but even in friendships I have a difficulty being truly authentic in a way that opens me up to vulnerability. I am still afraid, perhaps because I am still putting too much emphasis on how others view me. But, maybe it’s just that I’ve been hurt—I’ve been made to feel less than desirable, like I’m not worth it—and that has made me afraid and left me broken.

Here is an excerpt from my prayer journal earlier this month which describes this need for healing in more detail… Continue reading

Interview with Sex Therapist Dr. Rose Hartzell (Part 2)

There was just so much great content from my interview with Dr. Rose Hartzell, PhD, EdS, CHES, LMFT, Sex Therapist at San Diego Sexual Medicine. I had to break it up so you could take it all in. Here is part 2!

6.  In your experience, what have you seen to be the most common difficulty or challenge that couples face when one partner suffers from painful sex?

My honest answer of what I have seen across the board as the most common difficulty is acceptance that other sexual activities are sex.  If a woman has pain, often it is the woman that has the hardest time with this.  Exploring ways to bring pleasure to each other can be a fun experience for couples and is not so emotionally charged.  Often women will say that if I can’t have intercourse, why even bother.  And sex becomes about performance or reaching a goal.  But, I hear a lot of the men say, “I will take anything, I would be happy with oral sex or I can masturbate, I just want to be close to my partner again.  I just want her to touch me.”  Not every man is the same, but in general that is what I have noticed.

7.  Does your answer to the previous question change depending on whether the partner suffering from pain is male or female, and if so, how? Continue reading

All things, even the bad things

We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 (NRSV)

We have all heard it, we’ve probably all said it (I know I have)—everything happens for a reason. And while I do believe that many things in our lives happen for a reason, this statement in its entirety is not actually true. Bad things happen, sometimes for no reason at all. I suffer from pelvic pain and painful sex, and I am still healing from the emotional devastation of a divorce, but it doesn’t mean there was a reason that these bad things happened to me.

all things work together for good - when sex hurts there is hope

Everything may not happen for a reason, but God does make all things work together for good. Even the bad things.

Pelvic and sexual pain definitely fall into my “bad things” category. Living with any type of pain, especially chronic pain, can be debilitating. But pelvic pain has the ability to go beyond any other kind in its effects on your life. It is a pain that you hide, that others can’t understand. The emotional pain goes deep and the psychological damage is not easily repaired. Painful sex not only causes broken relationships, but broken individuals—broken to the core of who we are. I have been broken, I have felt the pain of hopelessness and emptiness. In all honesty it was the emotional pain that came at the end of my marriage—loaded down with years of carrying the burden of my sexual pain—that hurt the worst. Continue reading

God at the center

God at the center - when sex hurts there is hope

I truly believe that the number one factor in a successful marriage is keeping God at the center of it. I have met some amazing couples who have been through their share of life’s struggles and yet have the strongest connection to each other, a passionate love that you can see in every interaction. And they will tell you how it hasn’t always been easy, how they never could have done it on their own. They will tell you of times that they wanted to give up and times that it was just too difficult for them. Then they will tell you how God at the center is what made all the difference, giving them the courage and strength they needed to overcome. Continue reading