Groinal response – the physical side of sexual obsessions
Further complicating the matter of sexual obsessions is the fairly common side effect experienced by many sufferers predominately called groinal responses. As if having to experience hurtful and sometimes grotesque thoughts of a sexual nature were not enough, some sexual obsession sufferers experience such physical sensations along with obsessions.
Groinal responses are physical sensations in the groin/reproductive organs that occur in conjunction with sexual obsessions. They can cause sufferers to believe that they are sexually aroused by the content of their obsessions. This can be taken further to a point where a sufferer believes he is attracted to obsessional content and to a belief that OCD is not at play.
Groinal responses can include increased heart rate, a feeling of being aroused or turned on, partial or full erections, increased lubrication in women and orgasm. They can be described as movement or a tingling or swelling sensation. They occur in both males and females.
“Normally… this is a conditioned physiological response in the primitive thalamus of a brain which does not identify the thought as sex with a particular person, just sex,” states Wikipedia. “This is generally not indicative of one’s own personal desires.”
Having a groinal response can cause confusion and uncertainty in the sufferer, who can mistakenly believe the physical condition means something it does not. A sufferer may become confused as to whether physical sensations are due to OCD or are indicative of liking the content of obsessions.
Sexual obsessions equate to sexual thoughts and the presence of such thoughts, whether they are wanted or intrusive, can trigger groinal responses by the very nature of the thoughts being sexual.
It is a myth that groinal responses indicate a preference for whatever the sufferer is near or whatever the sufferer is thinking about at the time. Such groin area sensations can occur at any time. A sufferer could be standing beside a tree and get the sensation, which does not indicate a sexual preference for a tree. In addition, getting a sensation while near a person of the same sex does not necessarily indicate a preference for those of the same sex.
Some sufferers come to believe that they should be getting a groinal response in relation to those people they believe they are really attracted to. As an example, a heterosexual male may believe he should be getting groinal sensations when he sees women. This is simply not the case. Men do not instantly get erections every time they see a woman and women do not become flushed every time they see a good looking man. It just isn’t the way humans are designed.
Paradoxically, sufferers of sexual obsessions tend to notice groinal sensations more and focus on the sensations more. This leads to checking for groinal responses and forcefully telling themselves not to have them, which leads to having more groinal sensations. In addition, trying to cause a groinal response to take place when the favored sex is near will likely never happen.
Sufferers can get groinal responses when thinking of the sex opposite to what they have identified as favorable, when thoughts or images of aberrant or unusual sexual activity are experienced and during obsessions involving children or animals.
There are several cognitive distortions exhibited by sexual obsession sufferers who experience groinal responses:
- All or nothing thinking — If there is any sensation down there it must be associated with what I am thinking about or who I am near.
- Exaggeration of thought — I felt something down there. That’s the same as being totally horny for someone.
- Disregarding evidence — I had a groinal sensation while out for walk but that’s not the same as having one when around people, which always means sex.
- Perfectionism — The only time I should have feelings in my groin is when I want them.
Some compulsions associated with groinal responses include:
- Researching/Googling for information about groinal responses and their relationship to the content of sexual obsessions.
- Physically checking the groin area to measure growth or other changes.
- Mentally reviewing the significane of a groinal sensation to determine if it was a product of OCD or some other reason.
- Checking to see if the sensations are occuring in the presence of a triggering person, image or thought.
Groinal responses in OCD should be ignored, like the plague. In the context of OCD they mean nothing. The proper response to them is to ignore them to the best of your ability and get on with your day. The less you focus on them, the less they will bother you and, over time, the less they will occur. If you stop noticing groinal sensations then they become not a big deal and you are far more likely to continue living your life without having to stop every few minutes because you felt a new, irrelevant twinge.