Bedroom Insider

A blog about relationships, intimacy and sex toys.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Why Sex Hurts

Couple lying in bed under sheets
Painful sex, also known as dyspareunia, is unfortunately common especially when you consider how simple some of the solutions can be. If you experience pain or discomfort when you have sex, it might be due to one of the reasons below.

You're Not Using Lube

Although some people view lube as something that you shouldn't need because a person should be turned on enough to self-lubricate, this is actually the wrong way to look at it. A person's natural lubrication varies such as with their menstrual cycle, and some vaginas never lubricate that much. Plus, medicine (anti-histamines, birth control, SSRI used to treat anxiety or depression, and insomnia medication can all contribute to vaginal dryness), and certain health conditions can interfere with your body's ability to self-lubricate.

When it comes to anal sex, you should always use lube because the anus isn't able to self-lubricate.

Almost everyone will benefit from using lube. Even if it sex doesn't necessarily hurt, lube can make it more comfortable and allow you to have sex for longer. Don't just think that using lube helps the receiving partner, either. Trying to penetrate an orifice that isn't properly lubricated can be quite uncomfortable, too!

You're Not Turned On

Although this plays into the previous point because being more turned on equals more self-lubrication, there's more at work here. Aside from lubrication, being properly aroused leads to ballooning of the vagina, which makes more room for penetration by a partner's penis, fingers, or even a toy.

The solution to this one is simple, fortunately. Spend more time on core activities such as making out, manual stimulation, oral sex, or whatever it is that gets you really turned on. That way, you'll be ready for penetration.

There's Cervical Contact

While a few women do like when a toy or their partner's penis comes in contact with their cervix – the body part that separates your vagina from your uterus – this isn't the case for most people. Try positions that change the angle of penetration or prevent deep penetration from happening.

Remember that making contact with your cervix The position and texture of your cervix changes during your cycle. Around ovulation (approximately two weeks before your period if you have a 28-day cycle), your cervix will be higher and softer, potentially making it more difficult to touch during sex and reducing pain if you do. However, during and after your period, your cervix will typically be low and hard, and this may lead to more pain during sex.

You Have an STI 

Pain during sex could be a symptom of a sexually transmitted infection such as herpes, which causes sores. Those sores are incredibly infectious, so you should avoid being sexually active during any outbreaks. If you've noticed sores due to painful sex, it's time to talk to your doctor about treatment options.

Of course, herpes isn't the only STI that can make sex painful for you. Gonorrhea, herpes, genital warts, chlamydia, syphilis, and trichomoniasis can all put the kibosh on a good time.

...Or Another Infection

Sometimes another infection could be the culprit causing all your painful sex. It might not necessarily be transmitted sexually; although, sex could be a reason why you experience infections so frequently. Urination tract infections, bacterial infections – also known as bacterial vaginosis – and even yeast infections can become quite uncomfortable. Fortunately, you can resolve these infections fairly easily with either a trip to your doctor's office or your local pharmacy department.

There's an Underlying Medical Issue

A visit from your doctor can help determine if one of the following medical issues/conditions are why it hurts to have sex.

  • Vaginismus: Involuntary contractions of the vagina that make penetration painful or even impossible. Mindfulness practices and the use of dilators can help with this condition.
  • Paraphimosis: Happens when the foreskin is trapped behind the head of the penis so that it cannot be pulled forward.
  • Phimosis: Is foreskin too tight to move.
  • Psoriasis: A skin condition that produces red, scaly patches.
  • Menopause: Causes changing hormones that can lead to vaginal dryness as well as atrophying of vaginal tissues due to a drop of hormones. Estrogen supplements can treat the symptoms of menopause.
  • Prostatitis: An inflamed prostate.
  • Vulvodynia: A condition marked by unexplained pain in and around a vulva.
  • Imperforate or Microperforate Hymen: A normal hymen only partially covers the vagina opening and stretches to accommodate tampons, toys, or penises. An imperforate hymen completely blocks the vaginal opening, making sex or using tampons impossible. A microperforate hymen allows room for a small opening but not one big enough for comfortable penetration.

Other conditions can cause deep pelvic pain. Cervical fibroids, endometriosis, and pelvic inflammatory disease are several such conditions.

You're Allergic to Condoms or Lube

It's possible to be allergic to condoms, specifically the latex from which they are made. Burning and other discomfort during sex might be a sign that you have a latex allergy. You can opt for polyurethane or polyisoprene condoms instead of latex, however.

Lube allergies and sensitivities also exist. It could be due to an ingredient in the lube such as glycerin. Or you might be reacting to a heating or cooling lube. It's always a good idea to test lube on your inner thigh before using it during sex just in case. Some lubes and sensitizing creams contain l'arginine, which can irritate herpes and possibly make sex painful.

Other Reasons Sex Hurts

  • The angle is wrong, so your partner's penis feels more pokey than pleasurable. Or your penis is being bent at an angle that's pressing on the suspensory ligament. Beware that this ligament can fracture! A simple change of sex position can fix this – and it's fun to boot!
  • You're being too rough. Even if you're using lube, rough sex can be painful. Some people even like this pain. Keep in mind that rough sex or sex without lube can cause microtears, especially in the vagina or anus, and this can make you more susceptible to infections and STIs.

Although sex is occasionally painful, especially for women, there's no reason why it should cause you discomfort some or even all of the time. Whether you take a bit of time to find the perfect lube or condoms for you or to add more foreplay or you talk to your doctor, you can have more comfortable sex and discover how pleasurable sex can be!

By: Adriana Ravenlust
Follow on Twitter @adriana_r