April 3, 2023
The Truth About Painful Sex
Our society is gradually becoming more open when it comes to discussing sex. From hit songs on the radio to our favorite movies and TV shows, it seems like we're talking about sex more frequently. However, mainstream media tends to focus on the fun side of sex, and typically doesn't address the less glamorous aspects of sexual health. You won't find any pop songs about yeast infections, and James Bond never experiences erectile dysfunction. While that may be understandable from an entertainment standpoint, it's important that we also talk about the not-so-sexy side of sex. For example, many people suffer from painful sex in silence. Because it's not often discussed over brunch or represented in the media, they may not know what to do or where to turn for help.
Let's change that. Here are some of the most common questions people have about painful sex:
Is Painful Sex Normal?
The answer is both yes and no. While painful sex is not uncommon, it is more prevalent among women. However, men can also experience pain during or after sex. So, if you're experiencing pain, you're not alone and you're not weird. But it's important not to ignore it! As humans, we are biologically wired to enjoy sex, as it is crucial for the continuation of the human race. Therefore, if sex is causing you pain, it's a sign that something is not right, and it's essential to address the issue.
Am I Doing Something Wrong?
The term "wrong" may come off as judgmental, but there are several adjustments that you may wish to consider making. Firstly, it's advisable to ensure adequate lubrication. Different bodies produce varying amounts of lubrication, and yours may require some additional assistance. You may want to avoid using lubricants that contain glycerin, as this may cause irritation.
Secondly, focus on engaging in extended foreplay. As women become sexually aroused, the vagina naturally expands. If you have a smaller vagina or your partner has a larger penis, it may be necessary to engage in more foreplay. This could involve wearing sexy lingerie, setting the mood with candles, music, or pornography, using sex toys, giving and receiving massages, showering together, engaging in role-play, and other activities that appeal to you.
It could also be beneficial to experiment with different sexual positions, such as trying woman-on-top positions. Certain positions may allow for deeper penetration, which can be pleasurable, but it can also cause discomfort or pain during or after intercourse. Therefore, use this as an opportunity to explore new positions and learn new techniques.
Does it Mean I Have a Medical Problem?
If you have attempted the above suggestions and still experience painful sex, it may indicate a medical issue. Various medical conditions such as yeast infections, urinary tract infections, vaginismus, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as chlamydia or gonorrhea, ovarian cysts, endometriosis, and menopause can all contribute to painful sex. Additionally, it could be a reaction to the condoms or lubricants used, or a side effect of medication.
Therefore, it is recommended to seek a gynecological check-up to address the underlying cause of painful intercourse.
Does it Mean I Have a Relationship Problem?
When it comes to sex, context matters, so problems outside the bedroom could contribute to pain during or after intercourse. Sex is a very vulnerable act, so trust and connection may be required for your body to truly relax. Arousal is also key. If you are simply unable to become aroused by your partner no matter how much foreplay you integrate, but you have no troubles getting turned on in your solo sessions, it may be time to visit a couples therapist or intimacy coach.
It is important to recognize that other mental health concerns, such as depression, anxiety, and stress, can also contribute to painful sex.
Should I Grin and Bear It?
Accepting or ignoring painful sex will ultimately lead to medical issues, relationship issues, or both. You could be ignoring an important symptom of an underlying health condition or allowing resentment to build in your relationship, both of which will only make the initial problem worse. Communication is key here. At the very least, you should be discussing the fact that you’re having painful sex with your gynecologist and with your partner. If you’re worried that talking about this stuff with your doctor is embarrassing, remember this is their job, and they’ve heard it all before. And if your partner isn’t willing to discuss your sexual discomfort and work with you on fixing it, they are not a very good partner.
Communication is key here. At the very least, you should be discussing the fact that you’re having painful sex with your gynecologist and with your partner. If you’re worried that talking about this stuff with your doctor is embarrassing, remember this is their job, and they’ve heard it all before. And if your partner isn’t willing to discuss your sexual discomfort and work with you on fixing it, they are not a very good partner.
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