Why Does Sex Hurt Sometimes?

Lissa Rankin's picture
why does sex hurt
FAQ’s About Painful Sex

What are some less serious, common causes of pain with sex?

If you’re trying to have intercourse when you’re not aroused, lack of lubrication can cause friction and lead to pain. Even if you are aroused, decreased lubrication caused by hormonal deficiencies (such as atrophic vaginitis, which can occur when estrogen levels are low after menopause or while breastfeeding) can lead to pain.

Other common causes of painful sex include gynecologic conditions such as vulvar vestibulitis (inflammation of the vestibular glands at the vaginal opening), vaginismus (involuntary contractions of the vaginal muscles that may make intercourse painful -- or even impossible), and vulvodynia (non-specific vulvar pain, which is often experienced as an intense burning feeling).

How do you know if pain during sex signals something seriously wrong?

If you’ve never had pain before, and all of a sudden sex hurts, it’s a good idea to get checked out by a doctor. New onset of pain can signal a sexually transmitted disease (like gonorrhea or chlamydia), endometriosis, an ovarian cyst, a bladder condition like interstitial cystitis, scar tissue, or in very rare cases -- a cancer.

Other medical conditions that can cause pain include vaginal dryness resulting from menopause or breastfeeding (atrophic vaginitis) or vulvar pain disorders such as vulvar vestibulitis, vulvodynia, and vaginismus. While these are not health-threatening, I speak from personal experience when I say that they’re definitely happiness-threatening and should be investigated.

What can women do to prevent/lessen the pain if sex hurts?

Inadequate lubrication can be remedied with sexual lubricants, such as Astroglide or KY Jelly. (My personal fave is the all-natural option -- coconut oil. But don’t blame me if you’re jonesing for a post-coital macaroon! Keep in mind that coconut oil can break down condoms so only use it if you’re in a committed monogamous relationship.)

If you lack lubrication because of hormonal reasons, when used properly, vaginal estrogen is life-saving and safe -- but you’ll need a prescription, so talk to your gynecologist. My personal fave is the bioidentical vaginal estrogen called estriol which is very safe and preferentially improves vaginal health without some of the downsides of the more common estradiol.

If you suspect that you might be suffering from other conditions, such as vulvar vestibulitis, vaginismus, or vulvodynia, see your doctor. These conditions can be treated with things like Xylocaine jelly, antihistamines, vaginal dilators, pelvic physical therapy, and other options. Just remember, nobody should have to suffer during sex. It’s supposed to be fun!

What can their significant others do to lessen the pain?

Make sure she’s adequately aroused before intercourse is attempted. Go down on her first! Then let the woman be in charge of penetration. Go slow. Let her try being on top so she can control the pace and depth of thrusting.

What are some non-medical steps that can be taken to prevent/soothe the pain?

1.     Use synthetic or natural lubricants to reduce friction
2.     Take sitz baths to relieve discomfort after sex
3.     Try different sexual positions to find the positions that are the most comfortable
4.     Focus on other non-intercourse types of sexual activities -- like oral sex -- which don’t cause pain, at least until you can see a doctor and figure out why intercourse is hurting

What level of pain should prompt a visit to the gynecologist?

In my opinion, any recurring pain during sex should be investigated by a gynecologist. That doesn’t necessarily mean anything is wrong, but it’s clearly not as right as it should be. Sex is not supposed to hurt, and there’s almost always a way to improve things. So don’t be afraid to ask for help! 

Have you ever had pain with intercourse? Do you have pain now? What helps you?

Rooting for happy, healthy, pain-free sex,

Lissa

Lissa Rankin, MD: Founder of OwningPink.comPink Medicine Woman coach, motivational speaker, and author of What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend and Encaustic Art: The Complete Guide To Creating Fine Art With Wax.

n/a

Comments

Lissa Rankin's picture

Maypaki, back off love

You may have your own opinion- and you may express it here. But you may not attack someone else who is suffering like I did. With all due respect, back off honey. If you can't keep from advising others, I'm afraid I'm going to have to moderate out your comments, which I hate to do.

Thank you for understanding.

Linda, I'm sorry. I loved your post and thank you so much for being part of the conversation.
With love
Lissa

n/a
Lissa Rankin's picture

Amen, Linda

You're SOOOO right! Well said!
Thank you for speaking your truth.
xo
Lissa

n/a
Linda's picture

What can women do to

What can women do to prevent/lessen the pain if sex hurts?

1. Stop having intercourse. I mean it. Stop, right now. If it hurts and you do not want to be hurting, do not allow yourself to be penetrated, from the moment it starts hurting. You have that right.

2. Substitute other sexual activity for intercourse. If your body is tensing up in response to memory of past pain from intercourse, then focusing on intercourse isn't going to work. Give your body a chance to recover and relax into its sexuality first, and then look at reintroducing intercourse.

3. Do more foreplay. Lots, lots, lots more. Do so much foreplay that you cannot stand another minute without intercourse. *That's* when you should be having intercourse.

4. If you are very aroused and desiring intercourse but it is still painful, look into environmental issues. Are you douching? Using soap "down there"? Eating a diet that leads to an undiagnosed overgrowth of yeast? Etc.

5. Consider that chemically, you may not be suited to your man. Not every woman is naturally ideally mate-able with every man.

Yes, sometimes there's a legitimate medical issue. But I really hate that conventional women's care is based in the assumption that painful sex = there is just something wrong with her body that can be remedied with artificial lube or hormones. Intercourse was unpleasant for me for years. I had a very hard time becoming aroused. My partner said "Go to the doctor!" But there was nothing wrong with me. It was him, or rather, us together. I shudder to think that I might have gone through life thinking (because I was told) that I just don't produce enough lube or hormones.

Maypaki's picture

VAGINAL RIGHTS

Hey Linda! You said:

"Intercourse was unpleasant for me for years. I had a very
hard time becoming aroused. My partner said "Go to the doctor!" But there was
nothing wrong with me. It was him, or rather, us together. I shudder to think
that I might have gone through life thinking (because I was told) that I just
don't produce enough lube or hormones."

Well, if that's the case then you are really not meant to have intercourse or pro-create.
Just admit that you have a NUN'S VAGINA or you're meant to be celibate to control the population.

You should respect your VAGINAL RIGTHS. They are:

1.) Vagina's right to refuse sex.

2.) Vagina's right to self-pleasure

3.) Vagina's right to self-lubricate.

If a woman has Prime Vaginismus, it means her VAGINA is refusing sex. Penetrating a dry, un-aroused and unwilling vagina is RAPE, especially if she is dumb about her vagina. Her vagina is not consenting to any man. It's God's form of BIRTH CONTROL.

Most humans are genetically designed to learn how to masturbate. Masturbation teaches them to be sexually self-aware. But some, particularly women, have limited or no masturbation skills and end up having Vaginismus, dry vagina or thick hymen. Because God forbids them to learn about sex to control the population. Some women do not own their bodies because God owns them.

Vaginismus maybe the strongest evidence that God exist. Some HIGHER POWER can manipulate a woman's body to control the population. I am now an enlightened man.

Maypaki's picture

God is a Male

I finally realized that God is indeed a male. The reasons are:

1.) If God is a female, she would never inflict women with painful intercourse. She would merely inflict them with infertility. Her empathy towards women's feelings will always prevail.

2.) It is known in history that men treat women as property. Therefore, if God inflicts a woman with primary vaginismus, thick hymen or dry vagina, then her vagina is now the property of God. She's meant to control the population.
God uses her as an instrument to reveal who the real rapists are, thereby upholding women's most divine right -the right NOT to be raped.

This proves that God is a MALE, because for him, there are things more important than empathy towards females.

This explains why painful intercourse is MORE COMMON among females than males.
Because God is a MALE and treats some women as his property to control the population. God owns their vagina.

If Vaginismus is a test then why does it seem to violate his commandment to go forth and multiply?
God seems to contradict himself by giving women Vaginismus.

It maybe a different type of test.
He want's to test a woman's obedience to her DESTINY: nunnery or celibacy.

Lissa Rankin's picture

Vaginismus is NOT natural

I'm sorry. But it's not. I'm so glad you're now an enlightened man Maytaki. Really, I am. But for anyone else out there who might be suffering from vaginismus as I once did- don't suffer any longer. Great sex can be yours and there is nothing natural about searing knife-like vaginal pain.
WIth respect for anyone who disagrees with me
Lissa

n/a
Maypaki's picture

The Gender of God

OF COURSE!!!! There is nothing natural about searing knife-like vaginal pain. That's why my advise vaginismus sufferers is to AVOID INTERCOURSE COMPLETELY.

I mean...haven't you read my comment about VAGINAL RIGHTS which includes the VAGINA'S RIGHT TO REFUSE SEX?

Women who try to have sex despite the pain have no self respect and no self esteem and believe that sex is just a chore.
Intercourse is NOT A CHORE. It is supposed to be a mutual expression of affection. A woman should be craving for it, instead of fearing it.

But intercourse is JUST A CHOICE, unlike breathing, walking and eating.
Some women are really NOT meant to have intercourse. God owns them.

..and about the GENDER OF GOD, I finally realized that God is indeed a male. The reasons are:

1.) If God is a female, she would never inflict women with painful intercourse. She would merely inflict them with infertility. Her empathy towards women's feelings will always prevail.

2.) It is known in history that men treat women as property. Therefore, if God inflicts a woman with primary vaginismus, thick hymen or dry vagina, then her vagina is now the property of God. She's meant to control the population.
God uses her as an instrument to reveal who the real rapists are, thereby upholding women's most divine right -the right NOT to be raped.

This proves that God is a MALE, because for him, there are things more important than empathy towards females.

This explains why painful intercourse is MORE COMMON among females than males.
Because God is a MALE and treats some women as his property to control the population. God owns their vagina.

If Vaginismus is a test then why does it seem to violate his commandment to go forth and multiply?
God seems to contradict himself by giving women Vaginismus.

It maybe a different type of test.
He want's to test a woman's obedience to her DESTINY: nunnery or celibacy.

Maypaki's picture

Vaginismus is NATURAL and I believe in VAGINAL RIGHTS

Yes, Vaginismus is treatable just like being a "non-virgin" is treatable through HYMEN RECONSTRUCTION SURGERY -a barbaric practice because of peoples' misconception about the hymen.

It is treatable just like female masturbation is treatable through female circumcision.

Hymen reconstruction surgery is WRONG. But God allowed it to happen.

Female Circumcision is WRONG. But God allowed it to happen.

Well...the same thing can be said about trying to cure Primary Vaginismus. We are free to do what is right and what is wrong. It is called FREE WILL.

Female Masturbation is a NATURAL URGE, but some people want to get rid of it.

Having a broken hymen before sex is a NATURAL occurrence, but some people want to surgically reconstruct it.

Primary Vaginismus is a NATURAL REFLEX against harm. God does not want her NUN'S VAGINA to be violated.
It is a natural reflex just like the eyelids quickly shuts to protect the eye when an object is about to prod towards it. It may also be the fear of sex. God inflicted her with fear to prevent her from having an intercourse.

Female Masturbation, Having a Broken Hymen before sex and Primary Vaginismus are all NATURAL.
They are NOT deadly and they do not disable or impair other human physical activities.

A woman can still live without intercourse.

But Cancer is NOT natural. It is deadly and we need to find cures against it.
Multiple Sclirosis, Muscular Distrophy, Parkinsons Disease are NOT natural because they severly impair human activities such as fine motor skills and memory.

There are two types of vaginismus:

1.) Primary - oops! She has a nun's vagina. Penetrating a dry, unaroused and unwilling vagina is rape.

2.) Secondary - happens after pregnancy of menopause. It means God doesn't want you to make more babies. A natural birth control.

I am a man who believes in WOMEN'S RIGHTS. Without women's rights, women would still be treated as baby factories instead of human beings with choices.

If a woman has a right to refuse sex, then so does her VAGINA. She should respect her VAGINAL RIGHTS. They are:

1.) Vagina's right to refuse sex.

2.) Vagina's right to self-pleasure

3.) Vagina's right to self-lubricate.

If a woman has Prime Vaginismus, it means her VAGINA is refusing sex. Penetrating a dry,unaroused and unwilling vagina is RAPE, especially if she is dumb about her vagina. Her vagina is not consenting to any man. It's God's form of BIRTH CONTROL.

Most humans are genetically designed to learn how to masturbate. Masturbation teaches them to be sexually self-aware. But some, particularly women, have limited or no masturbation skills and end up having Vaginismus, dry vagina or thick hymen. Because God forbids them to learn about sex to control the population. Some women do not own their bodies because God owns them.

If she doesn't know how to use her vagina, then God owns her vagina to control the population.
Sex is not for her.

Vaginismus may be the strongest evidence that God exist. Some higher power can manipulate a woman's body for population control.

I am now an enlightened man.

Lissa Rankin's picture

With all due respect, don't listen to Maypaki

Vaginismus is not God's way of saying you should be a nun. It's a 100% treatable condition that can ruin your life if you don't get help.

Trust me. If you have it, you can be healed..
I believe in you...

n/a
Maypaki's picture

VAGINAL RIGHTS

Yes, Vaginismus is treatable just like being a "non-virgin" is treatable through HYMEN RECONSTRUCTION SURGERY -a barbaric practice because of peoples' misconception about the hymen.

It is treatable just like female masturbation is treatable through female circumcision.

Hymen reconstruction surgery is WRONG. But God allowed it to happen.

Female Circumcision is WRONG. But God allowed it to happen.

Well...the same thing can be said about trying to cure Primary Vaginismus. We are free to do what is right and what is wrong. It is called FREE WILL.

Female Masturbation is a NATURAL URGE, but some people want to get rid of it.

Having a broken hymen before sex is a NATURAL occurrence, but some people want to surgically reconstruct it.

Primary Vaginismus is a NATURAL REFLEX against harm. God does not want her NUN'S VAGINA to be violated.
It is a natural reflex just like the eyelids quickly shuts to protect the eye when an object is about to prod towards it. It may also be the fear of sex. God inflicted her with fear to prevent her from having an intercourse.

Female Masturbation, Having a Broken Hymen before sex and Primary Vaginismus are all NATURAL.
They are NOT deadly and they do not disable or impair other human physical activities.

A woman can still live without intercourse.

But Cancer is NOT natural. It is deadly and we need to find cures against it.
Multiple Sclirosis, Muscular Distrophy, Parkinsons Disease are NOT natural because they severly impair human activities such as fine motor skills and memory.

There are two types of vaginismus:

1.) Primary - oops! She has a nun's vagina. Penetrating a dry, unaroused and unwilling vagina is rape.

2.) Secondary - happens after pregnancy of menopause. It means God doesn't want you to make more babies. A natural birth control.

I am a man who believes in WOMEN'S RIGHTS. Without women's rights, women would still be treated as baby factories instead of human beings with choices.

If a woman has a right to refuse sex, then so does her VAGINA. She should respect her VAGINAL RIGHTS. They are:

1.) Vagina's right to refuse sex.

2.) Vagina's right to self-pleasure

3.) Vagina's right to self-lubricate.

If a woman has Prime Vaginismus, it means her VAGINA is refusing sex. Penetrating a dry,unaroused and unwilling vagina is RAPE, especially if she is dumb about her vagina. Her vagina is not consenting to any man. It's God's form of BIRTH CONTROL.

Most humans are genetically designed to learn how to masturbate. Masturbation teaches them to be sexually self-aware. But some, particularly women, have limited or no masturbation skills and end up having Vaginismus, dry vagina or thick hymen. Because God forbids them to learn about sex to control the population. Some women do not own their bodies because God owns them.

If she doesn't know how to use her vagina, then God owns her vagina to control the population.
Sex is not for her.

Vaginismus may be the strongest evidence that God exist. Some higher power can manipulate a woman's body for population control.

I am now an enlightened man.

Maypaki's picture

God's population control or nun's vagina.

Primary Vaginismus.
If you have it, then your body is NOT designed for sex.

It is God's way of telling a woman that she is DESTINED to become a nun or celibate.
So if you have it, go on and BECOME A NUN.
Or be CELIBATE.
That's because it is God's way of controlling the global population. God created women with such sexual dysfunction to keep them away from sex and thus preventing conception. Unfortunately, most women don't realize it and would still go through days and weeks of therapy which is just time consuming.

Trying to remedy your condition is against God's will.
God does NOT want you to have sex.
If you're a woman, don't get married & don't have sex if your VAGINA wont let you.
God had CLOSED the gates of your virginity.
FACE IT! You have a NUN'S VAGINA.
It is time to give up on men and become a NUN.

VAGINISMUS may be the answer to overpopulation.
God truly works in strange ways.

When you comment on an Owning Pink blog post, we invite you to be authentic and loving, to say what you feel, to hold sacred space so others feel heard, and to refrain from using hurtful or offensive language. Differing opinions are welcomed, but if you cannot express yourself in a respectful, caring manner, your comments will be deleted by the Owning Pink staff.