Sex is supposed to be a fun and enjoyable experience shared by consenting partners. Though in some cases, it’s not exactly comfortable or a pleasant feeling, to say the least. Let’s talk about painful sex and what causes it.
Known as dyspareunia, painful sex can be a serious medical problem. It is not normal and can be a tough situation to express to a doctor or even a partner. So, what is one to do about it?
If you are struggling with dyspareunia and don’t know where to turn, then you came to the right place. In this article, we’ll cover everything there is to know about this debilitating condition and what you can do to make sex a little less painful.
So grab a cup of coffee and get comfortable — let’s dive in!
Everything To Know About Painful Sex
Believe it or not, pain during sex is very common — nearly three out of four women experience pain during sexual intercourse at some point. However, for some ladies, the pain is only a temporary problem. For others, it is a long-term struggle.
What Does Dyspareunia Feel Like?
The pain due to dyspareunia doesn’t feel good by any means. It can feel sharp, dull, burning, or even like menstrual cramps.
Pain during sex may feel like it is coming from deep inside the vagina. Many women often say that it feels as if something is being bumped inside them.
So what exactly causes this less than favorable experience?
Well, the truth is that there are many causes as to why sex might be painful. But in many cases, a woman can experience painful sex if there is simply not sufficient vaginal lubricant.
When this occurs, the pain can usually be resolved if the female partner becomes more relaxed. Increasing the amount of foreplay you engage in before sex, or using lots of lube can also help. There are also some medical conditions that can cause painful sex.
Here are some other reasons you may be experiencing pain:
– Infection: One of the most important things to evaluate first when you are experiencing pain during intercourse is to rule out sexually transmitted diseases, a yeast infection, or other bacteria that can cause painful sex. This can be done during a pelvic exam in the office by your primary care provider and by vaginal or vulvar cultures.
As long as the infection is something simple like BV then you’ll even have options to treat BV at home. You can use Boric Acid suppositories which work extremely well and are easy to use.
– Vaginismus: Vaginismus is a painful condition in which the muscles involuntarily contract or spasm when something enters the vagina.
This can make sex pretty difficult and even painful. It’s commonly described by women as feeling like tearing, or sometimes like hitting a wall.
– Low Estrogen: Shifting hormones is another thing that can make intercourse uncomfortable. Why? Because low estrogen levels mean that women are more likely to experience vaginal dryness. This can cause pain during sex. This is common during menopause but there can be other reasons your estrogen is low.
Some women also experience vaginal dryness and pain during sex following childbirth, as their hormone levels slowly recover. Breastfeeding mothers may also experience similar symptoms for as long as they continue to nurse.
– Vulvodynia: Vulvodynia is a chronic, painful disorder in which the vulva experiences a burning sensation, rawness, itching, or a general feeling of soreness.
– Injury to the Vagina or Vulva: These injuries may include a tear from giving birth or even from having rougher sex than usual. If you can’t think of anything that might’ve injured the area but still suspect that’s what is going on, visit your doctor to talk about it.
– Endometriosis: This is a chronic condition that can also cause heavy and painful periods. Endometriosis can cause pelvic pain with deep penetration. This is usually a more complicated discussion, but treatment options typically include hormonal treatments and, at times, laparoscopic surgery.
– Ovarian Cysts: Last on the list, but certainly not least, ovarian cysts typically cause pain with deeper penetration but may also cause pain outside of sex. This would be important to evaluate with your primary and, commonly, an ultrasound.
– Other Factors: So many things can affect our sexual response to make sex uncomfortable. For us ladies, we know sex is not as easy as flipping an “on-switch” most of the time.
If there is a long “to-do” list, if there was an argument with your partner, if guilt, stress, shame, or fear are feelings at the same time, these can affect the body’s ability to relax and enjoy sex as well.
What You Can Do At Home To Help
While you should have regular OB/GYN wellness checkups, it’s not necessary to see a doctor for some of these problems. Here are a few techniques you can try at home:
One of the easiest ways to prevent pain during intercourse is to make sure there’s enough lubrication. If you are experiencing a lack of lubrication try using a water-based lubricant. You can also try a silicone-based lubricant, which lasts longer and is less slippery than water-based lubes.
You should avoid using mineral oil, Vaseline, or baby oil, especially if you’re using condoms during sex. These things can break down the latex, which can make the condom ineffective. They can also be detrimental to the health of your vagina.
It’s not always a good time for sex, despite what many people may think. If you’ve recently given birth or experienced an injury or trauma, you may simply need to allow yourself to heal before having sex again.
Communicate openly with your partner and let them know what kinds of things hurt as well as what feels good. Take your time and go slowly. It’s important to be patient as you figure this out.
Change Sex Positions
Another natural treatment of dyspareunia is to experiment with different sexual positions. Sometimes sex hurts more in some positions over others. The only way to know this is to try and see what works best for you.
You can also ask your partner to slow down and thrust a little bit more slowly. Taking it slow in a position that’s the most comfortable for you will ease anxiety and allow you to relax more.
Incorporate More Foreplay
One common cause of pain during sex is simply not having enough foreplay.
The natural lubricant in the vagina increases with increased blood flow due to sexual arousal. So before you actually engage in sexual intercourse, take the time to build up to penetration. This build up could help to alleviate painful sex due to vaginal dryness.
While this may not eliminate deep vaginal pain at first, it may increase your sex drive and work overtime. Besides, who doesn’t love foreplay?
Make Healthier Choices
Maintaining health and wellness to kick painful sex to the curb can be easier than you think.
One way is to eat a healthy and balanced diet full of fruits and veggies. Drinking lots of H2O and abstaining from too much alcohol or nicotine are healthy lifestyle changes as well.
All of these measures can increase your overall well-being while helping to heal female sexual issues that can cause pain during sex.
A Final Word On Painful Sex
Dealing with chronic pain during sex can be frustrating, but with a little bit of guidance and the right tools, you can greatly improve your personal life.
If you are struggling with dyspareunia, give some of our tips a try. Remember you aren’t alone. Talk with your partner and work together to figure out what feels good for both of you. The good news is, practice and research for this particular issue can be pretty fun.
Sarah Nelson is a nurse with 15 years of experience working with a variety of patients. She has a Masters of Science in Nursing and has spent a large portion of her career working exclusively with women in an OB/GYN setting.
Nursing is a passion for Sarah but she also enjoys writing and sharing her expertise online with people who need helpful information. Treating patients well and helping them learn more about their own bodies is a key essential to a healthy lifestyle that Sarah truly believes in.