All of my life, I’ve been extremely sensitive to absolutely everything. I can hear and smell things no one else can. I can identify most ingredients in anything I eat after just one taste. Preservatives, colors, and all. Sitting next to someone wearing perfume or cologne will give me blinding, 48-hour migraines. It takes three shots of Novocaine to numb me enough for dental work.
Most particularly problematic are some specific areas of my body that are incredibly sensitive and experience any contact at all as searing, panic-inducing, chinese-bamboo-torture pain. Like electric shock, like getting sand in your eye, that’s the best analogy I’ve been able to come up with. That immediate self-protective instinct – not just pain, plus the feeling of having been violated some how, the fight or flight effect.
One area like this is my feet. I can’t stand pedicures – literally! I can’t physically tolerate them. The bottoms of my feet are hilariously ticklish, but even worse are my nail beds – any contact with that tissue under my toenails feels like, well, chinese bamboo torture.
The inside of my belly button is that way too. Why? I have no idea.
The worst and most problematic is my clitoris. I discovered it when I was 3 or 4 years old, exploring in the bath tub the way all kids do. Except I figured out right away that I would never, ever, ever touch it again. Luckily, I can still have clitoral orgasms – and very easily! I don’t even have to be naked. But I’m sure you can imagine the havoc this has wreaked on my already drama-stricken sex life.
The first obstacle was convincing my husband, who spent several months prior to our wedding night studying female orgasms and how to achieve them (bless his heart), that the “fool-proof” methods he had studied and couldn’t wait to try on me were actually horrifically painful and prohibitive to any kind of arousal whatsoever. For some reason I have yet to divine, this point took a really really long time to get across. I had to start calling it the “angry button.” He would fumble into it and my instant, instinctive response would be to hit him in the face, which I actually did a couple times, then he couldn’t understand why our happy sexy time was over for the evening. He thought, like he tends to do when I respond unfavorably to anything he does, that I was just crazy and needed to snap out of it. Like everything else in our bedroom, it’s been a long, painful learning process.
My midwife and gynecologist were stumped. Apparently there are rare cases of nerve injuries leading to heightened sensitivity – such as sudden impact during a bike accident – for which there are surgical solutions. But from some random forum posts from other women out there with the same problem, it sounds like some of us are just strung a little tighter, or have more nerve endings in certain places, etc. and we just need to find work-arounds.
So that’s what I’ve done. I don’t wear tight pants (sob) or ride bikes. Manual and oral stimulation are best avoided entirely. But in general I can now say I’m capable of a happy marriage and sex life, despite the rough start. So that’s why I’m putting my story out there, just in case anyone out there needs to know that no, it’s not normal, it’s not in your head and it’s not a death blow to your sexuality. There are work-arounds and happiness can be achieved with plenty of communication and understanding.