Our sex lives wax and wane. Your libido changes from day to day, month to month, and year to year. Factors such as age, hormonal imbalances, or having a newborn can make sex the last thing on your mind. Our lives are full of nuances, and our sex lives are a direct reflection of these colorful complexities. But, what happens when sex becomes painful? Maybe your sex drive is fine, but when you have sex, it hurts! Painful sex can put a damper on your love life. If this sounds painfully familiar, here are 7 possible reasons you’re experiencing pain during intercourse.
1. Vaginal dryness
Our vaginal areas are prone to dryness for a number of reasons. Menopause is one, and so is taking a hot soak in the bathtub. Some women love to take a bath before sex to get relaxed and in the mood. But, these hot baths can have a drying effect on the vagina, so skip the bath and opt for another relaxation technique instead.
If you’re taking birth control pills, allergy medications, or antidepressants, these might also be culprits of vaginal dryness. Keep that in mind when taking certain meds, and talk to your doctor about switching to a different medication if necessary. Always keep a natural lubricant on hand if you sense this is the reason you’re having painful sex.
2. You’re a new mom
Your body changes dramatically after giving birth. If you’re a new mom, there’s a good chance you’re experiencing painful sex. If you’re breastfeeding, this is especially true. Your body doesn’t have as much estrogen to fuel your sex organs with fluids as it did pre-baby. This results in vaginal dryness and even tears in your vaginal wall.
What’s more, if you’ve undergone an episiotomy, scar tissue can make sex that much more painful. It’s common for new mothers to lack interest in sex for a number of reasons. If you’re still experiencing pain after three months post-birth, consult a professional. There’s nothing wrong with taking a breather from intercourse during this time. We can pleasure our partners and experience pleasure ourselves in other ways. Take things slow as your body heals after childbirth.
3. You’re allergic to condoms or lubricant
Do you experience itchy rashes around your vulva post-sex? If you use latex condoms and/or conventional lubricants, you might be having allergic reactions. Studies show that somewhere between 1 and 6% of us have a legitimate allergy or sensitivity to latex condoms. Switch to non-latex condoms, or consider another form of birth control. If the reaction persists, see your OBGYN.
4. You have vaginismus
Vaginismus is a condition in which your vagina clamps up upon penetration. As the vaginal muscles begin to involuntarily spasm, sex is nearly impossible because your partner can’t enter the vagina. This happens because you actually fear penetration, for whatever reason.
Have compassion for yourself if this is the case and seek professional help, whether it’s medical or psychological. You probably know what will serve your healing best. You can also stretch the muscles of your pelvis by using safe, small objects and maybe even a vaginal dilator. Kegel exercises are highly effective as well.
5. You’re skipping foreplay
A woman needs time to warm up before sex. Many men want to skip foreplay and their partners often acquiesce. But jumping straight to the main event is no good for either one of you, because sex won’t be a shared pleasure. It can even feel for the woman, as if he’s going to break through her cervix.
On average, twenty minutes of foreplay is needed for a woman’s vagina to be ready for intercourse. As you gradually become aroused, your vagina will welcome your partner in as it expands. This is the way our organs work, so request foreplay whenever you want it. If, after upping your foreplay game your cervix still hurts, see your gynecologist.
6. You have provoked vestibulodynia
Does it feel as if your vagina is being cut up by shards of glass? The fascia, muscles, and nerves of your pelvis are impacted by what’s known in medical circles as provoked vestibulodynia. You’ll want to see an OBGYN if this kind of painful sex rings a bell.
In mild cases, you’ll take a cream that contains a local anesthetic. Infections may also be the cause of this condition. Don’t worry, though — treatment is available. With a bit of patience and time, you’ll be experiencing the pleasures of sex and intimacy once again.
7. Sex makes you itch
If you’re itchy down there and intercourse only makes the itching worse, pay attention. You may be prone to yeast infections, which can be a byproduct of taking antibiotics. Your vagina may also be the victim of abnormal itching if it’s being exposed to chemicals. Certain bubble baths, condoms, and lubricants can cause the annoying itch. Pay attention to what you’re using and opt for natural alternatives. They may cost a bit more, but the added expense is worth it. Itching can be unbearable even without the added disappointment of painful sex.
If you’re experiencing painful sex, don’t feel bad about yourself. You’re in good company. Research shows that 30% of perfectly normal, healthy women are in the same boat. The best thing to do is understand why you’re having symptoms, so that you can take the necessary steps to rectify them. Life has its ups and downs, sex included. So don’t give up if you’re going through a rough patch with your partner. And if it’s pain you’re feeling, chances are, the cure is just a doctor’s visit away.
At OB/GYN Associates of Alabama, we can help you understand how to experience optimal sexual health. Contact us to request an appointment today.