Did you know that your vagina and your voice are intimately connected?
The relationship between a woman’s vagina and her voice is at once subtle and obvious. Beginning with the fact that “cervix” comes from the Latin word for the neck. Additionally, the vagina and the throat are remarkably similar structures. They are both supported in function by a hammock-like set of diaphragmatic muscles that move in tandem with respiration.
A few other similarities include that the vagina and the throat are pathways into the body from the outside world and instruments of self-expression in relationships.
The creative acts of singing, orgasming, and childbirth are all powered by rapid and rhythmic muscular pulses. The vagina and the voice are inextricably linked, and to be disconnected from one is to shut down the other. The separation of these regions of experience may cause increased emotional stress, physical discomfort, and dissociation. Through simple techniques for sensory perception and vocal exercises, you can enhance sexual pleasure, build stronger personal boundaries and even facilitate easier labor.
Based on the study of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system structures, we know that the body is responding hormonally at all times to external AND internal stimuli. Most of the time, we are unconscious of the processes taking place internally. However, more concerning is that many of those internal processes are influenced not so much by our external environment but our perception of said environment. This affects our physical body. Nervousness, uncertainty, or anxiety are almost always embodied through tight, lifted shoulders and shallow breathing. Ever had a knot in your stomach? A lump in your throat? Tight diaphragm and shallow breath lead to a collapse in the glottis (the throat’s diaphragm) and, more than likely, the pelvic floor.
The physical thread between the vagina and the throat is the vagus nerve. This is the largest nerve in the body that connects the brainstem to the sacral nerve plexus. 80-90% of the vagus nerve is sensory, which means it responds like skin to movement and pressure-based stimulation, not just electrical signals. “Vagus” means wanderer – the nerve wanders through the body. Previously, it wasn’t thought that it goes as far as the pelvic region. But our research and that of other laboratories show that it does, in fact, go to the cervix and uterus and probably the vagina. It carries the impulses from those regions, travels up through the abdomen, goes through the diaphragm, through the thorax (chest cavity), up the neck outside the spinal cord, and into the brain.” (source)
The respiratory diaphragm massages the vagus nerve with each and every breath. The quality of those strokes is determined by the quality of the breath. (source) Breath powers your voice, and the combination of the diaphragmatic stroke and the vibration of your voice stimulate the vagus nerve in such a way as to send a big sigh of relief throughout the nervous system. Steady, sustained breath-powered vocalization, such as singing, can soothe and balance the entire nervous system. This resets patterns of chronic tension and emotional anxiety or dissociation that often keep us from not only enjoying sex but being able to ask for what we want with confidence.
The physical response to the unease is to pull in and up in a kind of knot propped up on legs. This excess tension in the respiratory diaphragm and pelvic floor will restrict oxygen intake and carbon dioxide output, creating a kind of “starvation” response in the muscles and fatigue throughout the body. Sensitivity of the peripheral nervous system is diminished, the vagus nerve receives no massage, and the body as an alive sensory resource quite literally dies down. We become “disembodied.” As a result, the voice becomes disconnected–high, shrill, whiny, and either too low or too loud.
It’s not always easy to tell if we have a tight pelvic floor, but noticing a shy, shrill, or off-pitch voice can be a starting point to bridging the gap between the physical body experience–really, our reality–and vocalization of our experience. Beginning to notice how often you say “yes,” when you meant “no,” or “I’d be happy to,” when you meant, “I really don’t have the time,” is another way to measure the degree of dissociation. Identifying this disconnect from self is a crucial first step to self-care, healthy relationships, and maintaining confidence in difficult situations, whether physical, emotional, or mental.
The pelvis and sexual organs are the real seat of “appetite” in the body. We need food to survive, and we need sex to thrive. We need choice in sex to truly joyfully, and the voice is the messenger of our choices, desires, needs, and boundaries. If we cannot honestly vocalize our own experience—either because of fear of another’s reaction or our own lack of sensitivity to said experience—we cannot get our needs met.
So use your voice! Tell the truth, let yourself be heard, and sing! Sing your heart out as a daily practice. Singing your favorite song not only has the immediate psycho-emotional benefit of reminding you of pleasure, but the rhythmic stroke of the diaphragm engendered by more active vocalization is stimulating the entire sensory body. Practice humming, especially when you’re enjoying something. What’s your favorite taste? Savor it and hum the goodness throughout your whole body. Laugh OUT LOUD. Make some noise in the bedroom–at least on your own until you’re comfortable enough to share. And when you’re comfortable enough to vocalize your pleasure, your pleasure may just increase ten-fold.