Pain and sex

Is Pain During Intercourse Normal?

Painful sex is never “normal.” Sadly, through years of hearing half-truths as well as lack of education about sex, many women do not even ask the question, thinking that the pain they are experiencing just goes with sex and is standard stuff. Again, NO!

Dyspareunia is the medical term for genital pain that occurs just before, during or after intercourse. If you are experiencing painful intercourse, let me address a few potential causes as well as solutions that YOU can take control over right now!

1. Not enough “arousal” time before penetration

Women’s bodies require sufficient time for “arousal” in order to get to a place of desiring anything entering their vagina. Allowing time for increased arousal will give your vagina and vulva the time they need to lubricate. This also increases blood flow which allows your vagina to soften and lengthen. All of these arousal responses ensure that you don’t feel pain during sex. Take your time!

2. Not enough lubrication before penetration

Lubrication is absolutely necessary for penetrative sex to NOT result in pain. Some women’s bodies produce a lot of natural lubricant, and some don’t. Both are normal! It is important to understand how your own body functions and if you naturally lubricate enough for pleasure or if you need added lubrication. MANY women need more lube than they produce -- sometimes ALL the time, and sometimes at varying seasons in their lives. You may find that lack of lubrication is a result of any of the following: hormonal changes, medications you are taking, menopause, postpartum depression, or breastfeeding. There are SO many lube options available. GET SOME!

3. Positioning

If certain sex positions are painful for you than by all means, STOP using that position or figure out ways to modify that position so it doesn’t hurt. Often a position may hurt because the penis is penetrating too hard or too far into your body. An easy adjustment for this is to try positions where YOU are in charge of how much, how fast and how hard the penis penetrates. Women find that positions in which they are on top allows them this kind of control and can alleviate painful intercourse.

Now, If the reasons above don’t seem to be the issue, then I encourage you to see your medical provider, preferably an OB/GYN doctor, to assess if there IS a medical reason causing painful sex.

Though certainly not an exhaustive list, a few examples of conditions that might cause pain would be: hormonal changes that decrease lubrication and elasticity of the vagina; ovarian cysts; fibroids; endometriosis; skin irritation or inflammation; infection; or vaginismus.

It is worth investigating the cause of your pain. There ARE solutions for conditions like these and others not listed.

What usually happens if someone has pain with sex is they stop desiring it and ultimately stop having it altogether. Take a step toward finding out what is going on with your body. You do NOT have to give up on sex!