Subpar sex can trigger nausea, yeast infections, and more.
When I first started college, I was looking for some casual sex. I was a relatively naïve freshman and, truth be told, I wasn't particularly confident. I was outspoken, but I was meek when it came to boys. Like most 18-year-old girls, I wanted and sought validation. I had just moved to New York, I was wildly out of my comfort zone, and I was just trying to have as much fun as possible.
I felt oddly privileged when a hot upperclassman started pursuing me. He was easily the cutest guy who had ever shown interest in me. He was classically attractive with his dark features and just the right amount of scruff. He made all the guys I'd dated in high school look gross AF by comparison. So we started hooking up.
The thing was, I wasn’t super interested in his personality. I liked having sex with him because he was hot and provided me with much-needed bragging rights. I hated having sex with him because we didn’t connect on anything else.
I definitely thought he was attractive and that it was a great idea to sleep with him regularly, but my body had other plans. Every single time we had sex, my body gave me a yeast infection. At first, I chalked it up to the new college environment and stress. But as the connection became more and more apparent, I wondered if my body was telling me that it was not DTF this dude.
After one too many trips to Walgreens — and one too many Monistat applications — I was finished denying what my vagina was telling me. I stopped hooking up with the super attractive upperclassman so that it would stop messing up my life. This guy was the worst and I needed to move on and get myself some casual sex that didn't completely eviscerate my pH levels for three days at a time.
This whole situation made me wonder: Can our bodies repel someone who is bad for us? Is it normal to feel nauseous after a guy comes in you, or during a sex session with someone new? Can our hormones, emotions, and feelings join together to form a powerful subconscious army, built to sabotage our attempts to have physical contact with a person who we should avoid? According to Lorrae Bradbury, sexpert and founder of the sex-positive brand Slutty Girl Problems, your body certainly can revolt against another person's body.
What Attracts Us To Another Person?
When it comes to our attraction to another person, there’s a deep biological component. Humans, like any other animal, have a natural urge to procreate and continue the species. So whether you realize it or not, there’s a part of you that is attracted to someone who can help you produce the healthiest offspring.
Research on attraction has shown that people with different major histocompatibility complexes (MHCs) are drawn to each other. MHCs are parts of your genetic material that also play a role in the immune system and reproductive system. This is a fancy scientific way of saying that opposites do attract, even on a cellular level.
Over times our brains have developed into three distinct parts, which defines how we are attracted to people. As biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today: “Humanity has evolved three distinct but overlapping brain systems that enable us to fall in love and form long-term emotional connections: the neural systems for the sex drive, romantic love, and attachment.” These parts of the brain drive our attractions.
Sexual Interest Is Based On Different Factors
When it comes to attraction, various factors come into play. Bradbury tells Elite Daily that these elements are a mix of environmental, social and personal variables. “Sexual arousal or rejection is caused by a combination of internal factors — like your relationship, connection, and physical and emotional attraction — and external factors, like your relaxation, stress levels, environment, and past experiences,” she says.
If your body isn't into someone, it can and will be the first to let you know. Your body can turn off or repel if you're not interested in someone physically, emotionally, or mentally — or if your relationship is changing, like [if] you've been arguing with your partner [or] are feeling too comfortable,” Bradbury says.
Sometimes the body senses what the brain has yet to process.
Hygiene Practices Can Also Lead To Problems After Sex
According to Dr. Megan Stubbs, sexologist, relationships expert, and body image specialist, your body’s reaction after sex may be related to a hygiene issue. “If we're looking at things like UTIs and yeast infections, is your body actively trying to signal that this is the wrong person for you? No,” she tells Elite Daily. “But if we look at this anecdotally, like maybe your partner hadn't washed their hands or perhaps didn't shower before you had sexual fun, then this could be a sign that you need to address their washing habits.”
The vagina is made up of a delicate balance of bacteria (which make up what doctors call the “vaginal flora”), and any foreign substances can mess with your pH and create a breeding ground for infection. So, whether or not this person is emotionally bad for you, hooking up with them is definitely messing with your body. And that in itself might be a sign that this isn’t a good fit.
Lack of Arousal Might Indicate That You’re Not Into Someone
When you’re not turned on, your body will do everything it can to stop you from continuing what you're doing and to keep you away from that other person.
“Your body might have a hard time getting turned on. You might feel grossed out, on edge, unable to orgasm, or simply not into it,” Bradbury says. Your body could go into a 'fight, flight, or freeze' mode if you feel you're in danger, physically or emotionally.”
You should never, ever feel the need to have sex with someone you don’t feel safe around or don’t want to be intimate with. Full stop. If you feel anxious, upset, or nauseous when getting intimate and have a deep sense that this isn’t a good situation, you have the right to withdraw consent at any moment and walk away.
However, if you really do want to have sex with this person, but your vagina feels closed off or “too tight” for penetration, you might be dealing with something called vaginismus. This happens when the vaginal muscles involuntarily contract, and it’s usually caused by a fear response in the body. “This could be your body signaling that it doesn't feel safe,” Dr. Stubbs says. “Not all instances of vaginismus are caused by a past trauma. Sometimes the desire is there, but the body needs some time and reassurance that it is safe and can fully open up.” Take it slowly, and communicate with your partner about what might help you feel more aroused.
What To Do When You Feel Nauseous About Getting Intimate
Now, while I absolutely would never in my entire life stick around with a guy whose touch sickened me (sorry to be harsh, but it's true), Bradbury says that “if your body is repelling/rejecting someone that you feel is a good match, you can absolutely work to get your body back to high arousal.” That is, if you really want to be with this person, there are definitely ways you can still make it work. You might say, like I did, "How?!"
Bradbury suggests considering the context of the relationship and seeing what it is you can do to change things: “You might need to work on your relationship by going on more date nights, connecting emotionally, talking about your day, or showing physical affection and PDA,” she says. “Or, you might need to work on some external factors, like separating work from your home life [or] splitting more chores to lower stress levels.”
If hygiene is the problem, broach the topic gently with your partner. “Something like a quick hand wash before getting intimate or using lube instead of your post taco-Tuesday saliva could solve the problem quickly,” Dr. Stubbs suggests. “When it comes to vaginismus, as long as you're feeling safe and the desire is there, many vagina owners have found success using dilators and/or working with a pelvic floor therapist to have pain-free penetration.”
So, if you really are focused on this relationship and intent on making it work, you can always try.
But if this person really is awful and your relationship really isn’t worth it, turn around and never look back. As Bradbury notes, “If your body is rejecting someone because you feel unsafe, if they're not respecting you or your boundaries, or if they're a bad match, then it's worth calling it quits!”
European Society of Human Genetics. (2009, May 25). Opposites Attract: How Genetics Influences Humans To Choose Their Mates. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 7, 2021 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090525105435.htm
Lorrae Bradbury, sexpert and founder of the sex-positive brand Slutty Girl Problems
Dr. Megan Stubbs, sexologist, relationships expert, and body image specialist
Helen Fisher, Ph.D., biological anthropologist
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