| Caroline Knight
No woman wants to have to ask this question, but sadly it’s a very common one. Why does sex hurt? It should be a pleasurable and connective experience, but if anything is going to get in the way of that, it’s pain (or fear). The question of why sex hurts may have a range of possible answers. Dyspareunia is the name for painful sex, and you may experience dyspareunia because of physical or psychological issues.
In this article we will do our best to help you understand why sex hurts you so that you are well equipped to do something about it. So let’s get to straight to the point…
Why does sex hurt?
The causes of painful sex are not always immediately easy to pinpoint, but you should be able to get a proper diagnosis provided you see a qualified healthcare professional. If the reasons for painful sex are not obvious or you haven’t managed to find a solution, you really should.
Below are four of the most common reasons sex hurts:
Inflammation is a common cause of dyspareunia. If sex hurts you, there may be an underlying inflammatory condition of infection, so the painful sex could be a symptom of that. A good example would be a yeast infection (thrush), which can cause irritation and tenderness in the affected tissues. You may also want to be checked over for sexually transmitted diseases, as a number of those could cause irritation and inflammation.
Although it is not as common as some other causes of dyspareunia, pelvic nerve damage can result in pain during sex. Nerve pains tend to feel different to irritated tissues; it may be worth reading up on pudendal neuralgia and if any of the symptoms match up, contacting your Doctor is a good idea.
Women who have been through the menopause may find that sex hurts. Whether the menopause came early or as a result of chemotherapy or similar cancer treatments, the result can be the same. When a woman goes through the menopause her estrogen levels gradually decline. This can result in thinner skin that tears easily, or lubrication diminishing. There are actually a whole host of vaginal atrophy symptoms that might make sex painful.
Likewise, invasive surgical procedures like hysterectomies might damage pelvic muscles, so sex can be painful after that. Hormonal decline might lead to loss of libido too, and trying to force it when you don’t feel like it may result in pain.
For various reasons, women can have a fear of penetration of any kind, and often sex in particular. If sex hurts you, it is worth considering whether you have any negative associations with it, or fears around it.
If you have vaginismus your vaginal muscles are likely to contract and spasm, or make the birth canal completely clamp shut, which in itself can cause pain. Attempting intercourse when in this state may cause even more pain. Generally vaginismus needs to be treated psychologically, physically or both at the same time, so do consult your healthcare practitioner to get a vaginismus diagnosis.
What to do if sex hurts
If sex hurts, try not to just ignore the problem. These things don’t often go away without some kind of intervention, even if that intervention is something you do in the privacy of your home. For example, lots of women are able to overcome sexual issues and pain conditions using vaginal dilators, but it is still sensible to see a Doctor to rule out any underlying medical conditions - just to be on the safe side.
We will be happy to answer any questions you may have about our products, and don’t forget that we have a blog full of useful information on all kinds of women’s sexual health issues. It may help to keep in mind that dyspareunia need not be the bane of your life… women overcome it all the time, and you will too.