We’ve all seen it in the movies: a couple is overcome with passion, dives into one another’s arms, and engages in the best sex of their lives with both people deeply satisfied by the experience. Sometimes we even hear from our friends how amazing sex is. So why is that for some people (especially women), sex doesn’t always seem all that it’s cracked up to be? In fact, it actually hurts.
Let me start by saying that sex should never be painful (unless you consensually desire it to be). If it’s painful and you continue with it anyway, you are likely causing damage to the delicate tissues of your vaginal walls. Therefore, it is important to understand the root of the pain and eliminate it before continuing to engage in any sort of penetrative act. There are several different reasons that pain may be occurring, which I’ll address.
One reason that sex may be painful is because you’re simply not lubricated enough (naturally or otherwise). Sometimes when the vagina is too dry, the friction between the vagina and the penis, fingers, vibrator, etc. can create pain. One solution, if your body isn’t naturally wet enough in the moment, is to grab some lube and apply liberally. This should help ease the pain. For some women, especially those who are post-menopause, lubrication alone isn’t enough. There can be some hormonal shifts that occur (which could also be caused by birth control) that create dryness that lube alone cannot fix. If this is the case, consult your gynecologist and he/she can present you with different options that can address this.
Another reason that sex can be painful is due to a condition called dyspareunia, which can sometimes be an umbrella term for other issues such as vaginismus. When a woman has dyspareunia, the walls of the vagina tighten up or spasm and may even completely close the opening so that penetration is very difficult if not impossible and is incredibly painful (sometimes to the point that even tampon insertion is painful). This can be caused by a variety of issues ranging from sexual trauma, a sports injury, a urinary tract infection, etc. There is absolutely treatment for this; however, it does range widely, based on the origin of the injury. Therefore, it would be pertinent to consult a medical professional to determine the best course of treatment. Some options might include therapy to process through the sexual trauma and learn about relaxation techniques, physical therapy to strengthen your pelvic floor, the use of dilators to relax the muscles of the vagina, and more.
Speaking of physical therapy, another reason sex may be painful is because the muscles of the pelvic floor are weak. The pelvic floor plays a major role in sexual pleasure and by toning and strengthening those muscles, sex can not only begin to feel good, but it can also increase the pleasure even more than normal. There are different ways to strengthen the pelvic floor, again, based on the severity of the problem, which can range from yoga, specific pelvic floor exercises prescribed by a physical therapist, kegel exercises, and more.
Even positioning at times can create pain. For some women, if the penis, fingers, vibrators, etc. are touching the cervix, it can really hurt! Sometimes altering the position or the depth can help alleviate pain as well.
All in all, sex should never be painful. If it is, consult your gynecologist to try to get to the root of the problem so that you can resolve it! If left untreated, the problem can exacerbate and be even more difficult to treat. Instead, once you notice the pain, talk to your partner about alternatives that aren’t painful (engage in sex that is non-penetrative to the vagina) so that you can continue to engage in intimate connection while you work on healing your body. You can also consult a sex coach or therapist if you feel that the issue is more mental than it is physical (though they’ll likely suggest you visit a gynecologist to rule out the potential for any medical underlying causes). Remember, trust yourself and your body. It’ll tell you when something is off!
If you would like a space to be open and vulnerable and would like to schedule an appointment with Julie, please call our office at 513-939-0300