Painful Intercourse

Do you experience painful intercourse? Do you know why? Do you know what can be done about it to make sex more enjoyable?

There are numerous reasons why women can experience painful sex, also known as Dyspaneunia.

  • State of mind. Women are by nature emotional beings and while state of mind affects men as well, women are probably more susceptible to it. Let’s face it, if you’re stressed, fatigued, angry or hurt you’re much less likely to relax. If you can’t relax, you’re much more likely to experience painful intercourse.
  • Relationship problems. This goes somewhat hand in hand with state of mind, although relationship problems speak to issues you are having with your partner. If the trust is broken, if they’ve hurt or upset you, you’re more likely to not want to be close to your partner.
  • Lack of arousal. Women can be more like an iron to heat up, as opposed to a man who’s more like a lightbulb. If you’re not aroused, the juices won’t be flowing and sex will hurt.
  • Lack of estrogen. This is often the case for women during perimenopause and menopause who don’t have the same levels of estrogen they once did. I’ll be discussing low estrogen in more detail in my next series but in a nutshell, estrogen helps with lubrication to keep us nice and moist and juicy and make sex so much more enjoyable.
  • Some medications, like birth control and pain meds, can actually reduce our desire for sex. Which works as a back-up to the birth control pill 😉
  • Medical and surgical conditions. Conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, cancer and thyroid issues all contribute to painful sex. If you get these conditions under control, you should be able to enjoy the experience again. Many women also experience painful penetration after surgery
  • Your partner. Sometimes guys don’t take the time to make sure you’re well lubricated or that he’s using lube on himself. If he’s taking medication for erectile dysfunction, this can lead to eventual pain because of the sustained length of intercourse. And then there’s fit. If he’s really large and/or if you’re very petite (and I don’t mean in stature), this can cause pain. In this case you need to make sure that you’re really well lubricated and that you take it slowly. Cowgirl (or woman on top) is actually the best position to start with because you get to be in control of how quickly he penetrates and how fast sex is.
  • Skin disorders. Ulcers or cracks in the skin of the vulva and contact dermatitis are common. Perfumed soaps, douches and lubes can cause itching, burning and pain.
  • Vulvodynia is chronic pain and discomfort of the vulva and likely caused by nerves, hormones or a compromised immune system.
  • Vaginitis is inflammation of the vagina and can be caused by a yeast or bacterial infection, it may cause itching, burning or discharge of the vagina or vulva.
  • Vaginismus is a reflex contraction (tightening) of the muscles at the opening of the vagina, which can make penetration very painful.
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), which is periods of intestinal cramping and cyclic constipation and/or diarrhea, may be coupled with pain during sex. Often when IBS is treated, vaginal pain during sex gets better.
  • Lack of good digestion and proper bacteria levels in your vagina. Recurring yeast infections due to unbalanced bacteria levels can leave you high and dry.
  • Dehydration causes everything to dry up, including our natural lubrication. Make sure you drink plenty of water. On average, 1L of water for every 50 pounds of bodyweight is a good guideline.
  • Childbirth, pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, adhesions or infections are all other reasons why women experience pain during intercourse.

As you can see, there are many reasons why sex can hurt. If something hurts, you obviously don’t want to do it. Start by talking to your partner. Far too often we stay in our head too much. If he doesn’t know you’re in pain, just that you don’t want sex, it can lead to arguments, resentment and relationship trouble. As always, communication is key.

If you think you have an infection or other medical reason, see your doctor for a proper diagnosis. Naturopaths and nutritionists such as myself can provide you with natural alternatives to clear up yeast infections, help with IBS or lack of estrogen.

As always, feel free to share this article and spread the word that it’s not just all in your head all the time. There are many physical reasons why sex can be painful.

Until next time,


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