Sexual pain is nothing to dismiss. Sufferers often think they need to “suck it up”, or take one for the team. But the pain is real and often substantial. The term for chronic, painful intercourse is dyspareunia. Painful intercourse tends to be a woman’s issue and can have a serious impact on whether or not she wants to be intimate. I see men for sexual pain when the foreskin doesn’t retract, when peyronies occurs (a painful bend in the penis), or if they have yeast, inflammation or untreated prostitis. It’s frustrating, upsetting, and painful. Why would you want to have sex with someone if it hurts you? And sex can really hurt. As a sex therapist I treat a variety of sexual problems, but a client who is experiencing pain during sex needs to have this addressed before anything else can happen.
I describe it as an aversion. If every time you go to do something it hurts, it doesn’t take long before you don’t want to do it anymore. That’s human nature. I once threw up on banana pudding. Now the thought of it makes me slightly nauseous. That’s an example of an aversion. With pain, you learn to be afraid of sex.
I work with a number of pelvic physiotherapists and physicians to find out the cause and come up with a process to put back the pleasure.
- Common causes of painful intercourse include:
Vaginal irritation (things like reactions to condoms, excessive vaginal douching, and even soaps).
- Dryness. I think all women need lubrication depending on the time of month and the time of their lives. Menopause, nursing, and feeling nervous all can cause a decrease in arousal. I love the silicone Swiss Navy lubricant (read my blog about vaginas) for day to day use.
- Vaginal tightness. I have seen women who had sex for the first time and have issues with an incomplete or extra-tight hymen.
Vaginismus is the catch all phrase for women who have deep vaginal pain. It is often caused by a painful spasm of the vaginal muscle. Training to do what I call “anti-keegals” helps, as does learning to identify which muscles are contracting. Pelvic physiotherapists are a great resource for vaginismus.
- Clitoral sensitivity can be a common cause of pain. Lubricant helps, but so does extra bathing and gentle retraction of the clitoral hood. Women are often surprised at how easily vaginal secretions can build up below the clitoral hood.
- Pelvic pain can be caused by deep thrusting penetration. Hip dysplasia, stretched ligaments that support the uterus, scar tissue from surgeries and childbirth, vaginal or cervical infections including pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, and uterine fibroids can also be the culprits of serious discomfort.
- Finally vulvodynia is a painful and often hard to diagnose chronic condition that causes a burning and/or stinging sensation of the vulva and vagina. It is sometimes the phrase doctors use if they aren’t sure why you actually feel pain.
- Pain should not be a part of your sex life and you should NOT put up with it. My approach to dealing with pain is to work with you, provide a ton of information and finally figure out what’s going on with your squishy parts. I work with doctors, gynecologists, physiotherapists and other partners to find the right fix to get you back to intimacy.
Pain, like many sexual problems rarely goes away on its own. Call or email me NOW. We can fix it together. It may be covered under your health plan and your sex life can recover. I partner with many pelvic physiotherapists, physicians and other specialists. We can fix this. I’m looking forward to helping. Sue.