I find sex increasingly disgusting – what can I do? | Life and style

I am a 30-year-old woman, and I mostly have sex with men (now one man). Over the past year I have gradually found myself more and more averse to certain elements of sex. I still enjoy emotional and physical intimacy with my partner, but feel put off, in particular, by body fluids – his and mine. These things didn’t bother me before – in fact, I enjoyed thembut now I find myself inhibited in the bedroom, and not enjoying sexual encounters (or even thinking about them) as much as I used to. I overcame sexual-assault-related trauma in early adulthood, and have since had an exciting, varied and very enjoyable sex life. I don’t know why this has happened, now, in such a specific, disgust-related way. I would love to explore my full potential for joy, creativity and pleasure again.

We are highly complex beings. New aversions, compulsions, obsessions or phobias can develop, as we experience changes in brain chemistry due to precipitating events, such as trauma, extreme fear and overwhelmingly stressful occurrences. Sometimes – on the surface – the specific object, situation or substance seems only distantly related to what caused us to eschew it. You mentioned having worked successfully on your early adult trauma, but the healing process is rarely linear and can present surprises as memories are recovered. Continue your work.

  • If you would like advice from Pamela on sexual matters, send us a brief description of your concerns to private.lives@theguardian.com (please don’t send attachments). Each week, Pamela chooses one problem to answer, which will be published online. She regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence. Submissions are subject to our terms and conditions: see gu.com/letters-terms.

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