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Why does sex hurt, what to do about it

why does some sex hurt and what to do about it

Why does sex hurt?

I’m always irritated when I read about a first-time experience, and it is described as painful. I’ve always believed that it was a way our mother’s discouraged us from having sex until we were married.

So many of our sexual dysfunctions arise from the horror stories we’ve been told. It has kept us back from having the best sex possible.

My first-time experience was wonderful. It was with a boy I had been dating for over 3 years. I was 20 and I was prepared. I believe that this would imprint my attitude towards sex for the rest of my life, and it has served me well and then I experienced pain!

I think the difference with me was that I knew that pain wasn’t normal, so I rushed off to my doctor and got it sorted very swiftly.

We can experience pain during sex for many reasons. Figuring out why you feel during sex can actually be very complicated to answer for a number of reasons:

Definitions of what is pain versus what’s discomfort differs for people, and for researchers. In our house pain is measured on a scale from 1 to 10.

Definitions of sex differ.

When most people say “sex” they mean intercourse. For some people even sexual touching can cause pain, where for others it is only penetration that causes pain.

Because we aren’t encouraged to speak openly about sex, it is likely that many suffer in silence, so we may not know as much about sexual pain as we do about back pain, or tooth pain.

The most important thing to know is that sex doesn’t have to hurt.

Having sex comfortably may require creativity and patience, but most people can find a way to enjoy sex without pain.

When sex hurts it is often the result of a combination of factors, including physical and psychological ones. Something may happen in your body that hurts during sex, and then in the future you may anticipate the pain, which can amplify the experience next time. This can often happen after a traumatic experience like a sexual assault.

Figuring out why sex is painful, and what to do about it, is a bit like solving a mystery.

You’ll want to consider both the physical and psychological causes of pain during sex.

Sex shouldn’t be painful unless it’s pain you choose to experience and enjoy which is a different story. If you’re trying to figure out where to start it can be helpful to consider some of the most common causes of painful sex.

Physical Causes of Painful Sex

Some causes of painful sex may be specific to women’s or men’s bodies, others are equal opportunity obstacles. Here’s an incomplete list of common causes of painful sex:

  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
  • Endometriosis
  • Interstitial cystitis
  • Vaginismus
  • Vulvodynia
  • Some sexually transmitted diseases
  • Urinary infections
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Physical injury and chronic pain
  • Women who have intercourse with a man with a very long penis can experience pain
  • Some infections (like thrush) can cause soreness and itching
  • Some sexually transmitted diseases
  • Tight foreskin

Psychological Causes of Painful Sex

Often people think that a psychological cause is another way of saying “it’s all in your head” which is another way of saying it isn’t real. Not true.

Psychological causes of painful sex still result in very real pain, and very rarely can someone just “get over” a psychological reason for pain during sex. For both men and women there are a variety of reasons why our minds may play a role in sex being painful, here are some of the more common causes:

Coercive sexual experiences. In South Africa far too many women and men have experienced sexual assault or abuse. For many people their first experience with sex was something they did not choose. If you’ve never known sex that is consensual and pleasurable, it isn’t surprising that when you have sex (even when you choose to have it with a partner you like or love) your body doesn’t experience it as pleasurable.

Anticipating pain. If you experienced pain during sex, whether it was from a physical condition, or a wrong position, you may begin to anticipate pain the next time you have sex. If you’re expecting, it at least three things can happen. You aren’t going to be as tuned into what’s going on in your body, and you may find your arousal is lowered. Along with this, women may have less lubrication, which can cause a different kind of pain during sex. As well, the anticipation can actually make the pain feel more intense. For example, your body may be very tense, which may result in a different physical experience of pain or pleasure.

Lack of interest in having sex. A very different situation than sexual assault is the time when you may not be in the mood to have sex, but your partner is. Many of us will have sex even when we’re not 100% into it, and we do this for a variety of reasons. One of the problems with doing this is that if you’re not that interested in having sex, it may result in pain. For women, the most common reason for this is likely lack of vaginal lubrication. A good lube can sort out vaginal dryness in a flash. At Lola Montez we carry a brand called Pjur – it’s liquid gold.

If you’re not psychologically aroused at least a little, and you don’t have a lot of vaginal lubrication, sex will most likely be uncomfortable or painful. For men, if they are physically stimulated, they may have an erection and be able to engage in intercourse. But if they aren’t turned on, it may take a lot longer to ejaculate than it normally would. If there isn’t sufficient lubrication in this scenario the prolonged friction may cause pain.

If you are experiencing painful sex, take notes. Try to figure out what’s going on.

Ask yourself some questions:

  • When did sex start to hurt, has it always hurt?
  • When does the pain begin, is it as you’re getting excited, only during penetration, related to orgasm?
  • Where do you feel the pain (is it in one specific area, or more general?
  • Are there still things you can do sexually that don’t cause pain?

Explore on your own.

If you don’t regularly masturbate, now’s the time to start. If you can masturbate without pain, that is both a helpful thing to know, but it can also provide you with much needed release while you figure out how to resume sex with your partner without it hurting. Using masturbation to explore sexual pain is particularly good because you don’t have to worry about a partner poking you the wrong way. You can be as gentle (or as rough) as you want to be, and you’re always in control.

If penetration with your partner is painful, you may want to use a vibrator or dildo with lots of lubricant to explore penetration with masturbation, to discover if it feels the same or different. WE have a section specially for beginners.

We recommend you start small and then work your way up.

  • Use plenty of lubrication. One of the most common reasons for painful sex is lack of lubrication.

There are all sorts of reasons women experience vaginal dryness, but using a personal lubricant can be an easy and effective way to treat this problem and eliminate a major cause of painful sex.

  • Communicate with your partner. It can be difficult to talk about sex at the best of times, even for couples who have been together for years.

When it comes to talking about a difficult sexual issue, the communication can get even trickier. But communication is key to resolving painful sex. Even if the cause is entirely physical, and will go away with treatment, it’s still important to talk with your partner about the pain you’re experiencing and figure out other ways for both of you to satisfy your sexual needs while you are getting treated. This can actually be one of the positives of experiencing sexual pain, it can force couples to break down communication barriers and eventually lead to a better sex life than before the pain was experienced.

  • Experiment with different sexual positions. For some pain during sex happens as a result of pressure on particular parts of the body. It may be putting pressure on certain joints hurt, or that penetration at a certain angle is painful. Try exploring different sexual positions and see if this alleviates some of the pain.

Consult a doctor or other healthcare provider. If you can, in most cases it is worth talking with your doctor about this. Even if the problem clears up, or seems to clear up, pain during sex can be a symptom of other issues, and knowing this can alert your doctor to other questions they may want to ask.

And you can always email me, and I can point you in the right direction – [email protected]

 

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Why does sex hurt, what to do about it

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Why does sex hurt, what to do about it