Intimacy with a partner is exciting, but what do you do when that excitement is interrupted by unexplained pain? Pain during sex can be a frustrating and unwelcome guest in the bedroom. Unfortunately, it is fairly common and affects 10 to 20% of women in the United States. Pain like this can come and go or stay for extended periods of time. If it continues, it can often lead to negative emotional effects in the relationship.
Pain during sex is also known as dyspareunia. It is defined as persistent or recurrent genital pain that occurs just before, during or after intercourse. The pain and discomfort you feel may be superficial or deep.
Read on to learn the potential causes of pain during sex and how to address it with both your partner and doctor.
Why There May Be Pain During Sex
1. Lack of Lubrication or Sexual Arousal
One of the most common reasons a woman experiences pain during sex is a lack of lubrication or sexual arousal. On average, it can take a woman 20 minutes to become aroused. By comparison, a man can become quickly aroused with a simple touch or even thought. Sexual arousal is important for a woman as it helps to create natural lubrication.
One way to reduce pain and create natural lubrication is foreplay. Foreplay also helps to set a path for the big “O”! As a woman, it’s important to let your partner know what you need to avoid any discomfort that may turn to pain. On the flipside, be sure to let them know when something feels good!
If lack of lubrication persists even with extensive foreplay, try a water-based lubricant. You might also try switching sexual positions or try non-penetrative sex like oral sex.
Speak with your doctor about any further symptoms you may be experiencing along with painful sex.
If you’re experiencing pain during sex, consider looking at anything that comes in close contact with your vagina. Why? There are a number of products that can cause unnecessary irritation and it’s important for you to be aware of what is going near and in your body. Perhaps it’s a reaction to latex, which is commonly found in condoms, diaphragms, and gloves. Or maybe, you’re trying out some new feminine hygiene products such as a deodorant, douche or scented tampons. Be sure to also take a look around the house. Did you recently change your body wash? Laundry detergent? Dryer sheets? All of these things could have an impact on your intimate time with your partner.
Help yourself out and read the ingredients on such products to reduce your likelihood of pain. Additionally, avoid using scented products near your vagina. It’s unnecessary and simply washing with water and unscented soap is the safest method to leave you feeling clean. That being said, don’t douche! And when you’re ready to go about your day, make sure it’s in a fresh pair of cotton underwear.
3. Underlying Conditions Including: Endometriosis, Vaginismus, Uterine Fibroids, Pelvic Inflammatory disease
There can be nothing more frustrating in a relationship when pain during sex persists. If you’ve tried increasing sexual arousal and eliminating irritants from your home, it’s time to consider that you may have an underlying condition that is causing painful sex.
Endometriosis is a when endometrial tissue, which normally grows within the uterus, instead grows outside of the uterus because the immune system fails to get rid of it. One of the many symptoms is pain during sex. Learn more about the symptoms of endometriosis here.
Uterine fibroids are typically harmless tumors found within the wall of the uterus. While they often don’t interfere with a woman’s daily life, they can grow in size which can lead to unnecessary pain, especially when getting intimate with a partner. Find out more about uterine fibroids and other symptoms here.
Vaginismus is when the muscles of the vaginal opening involuntarily contract. Unintentional muscle contractions can make sex uncomfortable or even painful. Read more about the symptoms of vaginismus here.
Vulvodynia is chronic pain or discomfort around the opening of the vagina that persists for three or more months. Pain varies from individual to individual but can especially be heightened when engaging in intercourse. Here’s what you need to know about vulvodynia.
If you suspect you may have any of the above conditions, make an appointment with the Kaldas Center.
4. Sexually Transmitted Diseases or Infections
For your health, having an open and honest conversation with your partner(s) about past sexual history is important in eliminating STDs as a possible cause of painful intercourse. Omitting the truth and allowing a partner to contract an STD could lead to other implications like Pelvic Inflammatory Disease. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) is an infection of the woman’s reproductive organs and is often a complication from untreated STDs. See what role painful sex plays in PID here.
Painful sex may be a symptom of the following sexually transmitted diseases:
- Genital warts
Protect yourself! The Center for Disease Control, recommends sexually active women younger than 25 years, or someone with new/multiple partners, be annually tested for STDs. Get the full details on STD screenings here.
What to Do About Pain During Sex
So, what have we learned when it comes to pain during sex? Communicate, communicate communicate! You can never overcommunicate with your partner or doctor about the pain you are feeling. When it comes to your health and body, don’t hesitate in letting your voice be heard. Talk to your partner when you feel pain and tell your doctor if it isn’t going away.
If you’re experiencing pain during sex, it’s time to call the Kaldas Center to better understand what’s happening. Schedule an appointment by visiting our website or by calling us directly at (920) 886-2299.