Sexual dysfunction: A physical or energetic representation of health?
by Dr. Lisa Avila
When I first read this quote by Caroline Myss, one of my earlier teachers and mentors, I didn’t know what to do with it. Most of my life has been devoted to finding the root causes of what ails the body and the mind. As a healthcare practitioner, I found endless opportunities to explore the validity of the above quote. Later in my career, I spent time exploring the bridges between physical discomfort, emotional/spiritual distress, and body chemistry balance. In examining sexual dysfunction, I learned that the interplay between sex and spirituality are inexorably enmeshed in all parts of the human condition.
I live and work in New York City, an environment which focuses on embracing freedoms, rather than the embracing of societaly-dictated norms. I’ve found many notable cases that illustrate the connection between exploring emotional or spiritual operating paradigms in order to resolve sexual issues. At many turns I have wondered if sexual issues—either function- or gender-related—were the primary source of emotional pain.
How our energy, and our spirituality, connects with sex
This link was easier to see with women then with men, especially with women in the fashion industry. Working with models who were very busy was an insight into the effect of sexuality as represented in the media, versus sexuality in practice. Most of the models I worked with told me that they had issues with showing up to work and then having their images depend on someone else’s decisions. As an aside, this is also the issue with pornography—the need to differentiate what is on the screen from the application (or not) of sexual behavior in real life.
As one model said, “If they want me undressed, or to look like a slut, or to be in a compromising position with another model, I don’t have the ability to say no. It is only the world-renowned models that have that ability. The rest of us don’t.”
This model was in my office specifically for a sexual issue that provided me with a lot of information about the dichotomy of lack of control over her public image as a woman, versus the practice of her sexuality in her daily life. In this particular case, helping her regain a sense of control over her physical body, without having to change professions, resolved her issues.
She did this through daily practices that she and I formulated together for her. One was a very spiritual exercise teaching her when to “hold” and when to “release.” The idea of “hold and release” is to learn when to be flexible (at work), and when to be firm (at home). The key is to work to keep grounded throughout either scenario. In that grounding, one is never a victim in the moment.
Sexual dysfunction as an indicator of other issues
For example, women who have difficulty achieving orgasm first need the questions answered: Are you happy in your relationship, and also attracted to your spouse? If the answer is yes, most likely the woman is not breathing much during sex. The clenching that they do during sex is usually systemic in other areas of their lives. The resolution here is most often found through full wave breath. The task for these women begins with being able to breathe down into their pelvis, which is grounding on its own. Additionally, when the breath gets that far down in your body, it’s is impossible to clench either physically or emotionally. It helps to have a patient and caring partner who is willing to encourage this process.
Discover full wave breathing exercises on Tom Goode’s YouTube channel
These are examples of how spiritual or emotional/energy-related issues translate to sexual issues. There are many other examples of how sexual issues translate to spiritual ones.
How our belief systems contribute to sexual dysfunction
The next step is to find out if there is a latent judgment pertaining to sex. Most of the time I see that very early on people learned that sex was a subject shrouded in conflict. Many times these beliefs were taught by either organized religion, or by well-meaning parents.
One woman, who loved her husband and had what she said was a great marriage, had tried to conceive their first child with no success. Traditional medicine found nothing physically, for either herself or her husband, that might stand in the way of bearing a child.
When she and I spoke at length, she revealed that she was raised in a small village in a very religious country. For many years, her mother told her over and over that, “whatever you do, don’t shame the family by becoming pregnant.” That message became internalized and, as an adult, she still had those words in the back of her mind. After we worked on resolving that voice in her head, she had two children, in fairly quick succession.
Another woman had a miscarriage that devastated her after her second child arrived. She was trying to conceive her third child. I gave her an emotional release protocol for this disappointment, and she had her third child very soon after.
Erectile dysfunction and our environment
With men, there are many examples of erectile dysfunction being successfully treated through similar procedures. The most pertinent questions for men to reflect upon are: What is your attitude toward your partner, and what is the underlying paradigm you have about sexual expression?
For men, it seems to be very tied into what society tells them is masculine—social dictates on appearances are catching up to men similarly to how they are hoisted upon women. There is also, as it is for women, the interference of mainstream media on top of whatever was taught by parents or organized religion. The way mainstream media interferes with masculinity (besides the obvious misrepresentations of female sexuality through pornography, and the objectification of body parts in advertising), is the connection between sex and violence in action movies.
When I suggested to a 22 year old with erectile issues that perhaps he be aware of instances in his body where adrenaline combined with sexual stimulation, he saw a marked difference in his ability to become aroused and maintain an erection. His family practitioner said this could only be treated by giving this young man a prescription like Viagra or Cialis, but instead this man found a solution to his physical issues in reframing his own sexual expression. He did this by unplugging from images that saturate current media.
For a man to have strong and healthy erectile responses, it cannot be adrenal or stress-driven. It is essential to long term success if he re-affirms to himself that the messages depicted in the media are not what healthy sexual arousal is all about.
Sex and arousal are powerful energetic responses that manifest physically, but reach deeply into our spiritual and belief-based paradigms. How these paradigms reflect upon our overall health says much about the patterns that need resolving for our individual growth path.
To learn more about how your belief system and spiritual/energetic patterns may be affecting your sexual health—or vice versa, contact Dr. Avila.