Is Painful Sex Normal?: Causes and Treatments for Pain During Sex
Disappointedly, painful sex (dyspareunia) is a common but neglected female health problem. The population prevalence is estimated to vary from 3 to 18% globally, and lifetime estimates range from 10 to 28%. While some slight pain or discomfort could just be a sex position or muscle soreness problem, more severe and frequent pain can be indicative of a greater problem. If you’re experiencing pain or discomfort during intimate moments, we at Quanna want to remind you that there is nothing to be ashamed about and even more, to be silent about. You deserve answers. You deserve pleasure. Let’s learn why you might be experiencing pain during sex, and what the solution/s can be.
What Are Common Causes of Pain During Sex?
Vaginal dryness is the number one cause of pain during sex. But don’t be fooled into thinking that this is an issue that only impacts postmenopausal women, or that it’s something you’re doing wrong.
There are a number of factors that contribute to vaginal or genital dryness, but it is most often caused by a decrease in estrogen levels. Factors like breastfeeding, childbirth, anxiety/depression, cancer treatment, antihistamines, ovulation, cigarette smoking, birth control, etc.. are varied contributors to vaginal dryness.
Health Conditions or Medications
A few medical conditions can also cause or contribute to painful sexual problems for both men and women.
- PAINFUL SEX IN WOMEN: This pain can often result from gynecological issues like endometriosis, fibroids, ovarian cysts, or pelvic inflammatory disease.
These conditions must be diagnosed and managed by a health care professional. Other medical conditions contributing to painful sex are urinary tract infections (UTIs), vaginismus, vulvodynia (which causes chronic pain at the vaginal opening), and STIs like herpes and chlamydia.
- PAINFUL SEX IN MEN: This pain can often be a result from infections like thrush, STIs such as herpes, a tight foreskin, small tears in the foreskin, and prostatitis.
How Can I Help Ease Pain During Sex?
Our number one suggestion for anyone experiencing pain during sex is to use lube to help ease any pelvic pain and dry discomfort. Lube is the best supporting actor in an Oscar-worthy romp, because of its versatility. Check out Why We Use Lube to understand why lube is so important for not only fun sex, but safe sex.
Any good relationship hinges on communication. If you don’t feel safe talking to your partner, especially regarding soreness or sexual dysfunction, that’s the biggest red flag.
You need healthy communication with your partner to have fulfilling sexual intercourse and foster a sense of trust. If you feel like your relationship is lacking in this department, it may be time to seek counseling.
If you have sharp pain during thrusting, try different positions, such as being on top. In this position, you might be able to regulate penetration to a depth that feels good to you.
Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy
This isn’t traditional physical therapy, of course. It’s a specialized type called pelvic floor physical therapy, and it’s provided by specially trained physical therapists. It increases pelvic blood flow, releases trapped nerves, and decreases pain sensitivity. It relaxes, balances, stretches, and tones pelvic and vaginal muscles, restoring them to health.
When Should I See a Doctor About Painful Sex?
In general, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment with your doctor anytime you experience new or concerning symptoms. Even though most of the causes of pain during sex are relatively benign, some of them will need to be treated by a healthcare professional.
Your provider can do a pelvic exam and help to rule out issues like sexually transmitted infections (STIs), uterine prolapse, yeast infections, and other health issues. Remember you are worth it.