Should I worry if penetrative sex hurts?
All the reasons why sex is painful and what to do about it
What's up down there?
Painful sex is a bit of a passion killer, no? Not to mention a major cause for concern. It can be triggered by anything from emotional issues to a more serious infection or hidden health condition, so it’s better to deal with it sharpish rather than grit your teeth and hope it will go away.
Known medically as dyspareunia, painful sex affects one in ten British women, according to a study by BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. That’s a lot of women suffering in silence. We spoke to the experts to decode your painful sex triggers.
Lack of arousal
‘If you’re not physically aroused, touch of any kind can be uncomfortable – especially if it’s somewhere sensitive, like your clitoris or the tip of your penis,’ says a spokesperson from the Brook Advisory Clinic. ‘Being well lubricated, relaxed and with lots of blood flow in the area (so penises get erect and vulvas swell) helps with this so put plenty of focus on foreplay’. Women especially need warming up before penetrative sex, both physically and emotionally. ‘If you’re not feeling turned on (mentally aroused) touch can be unpleasant – for example, being tickled when you’re feeling playful and silly is usually more fun than when you’re tired or angry!’ adds the Brook spokesperson, who suggests spending time enjoying foreplay to significantly improve your sexual pleasure. ‘There may be times when penetrative sex is not possible, but you can still have great sex without intercourse.’
Lack of lubrication
‘Lack of arousal can result in less vaginal lubrication, but many women simply do not produce enough vaginal lubrication, including younger women,’ explains Samantha Evans, sexual health expert, former nurse and co founder of luxury sex toy retailer Jo Divine. ‘Vaginal dryness is often linked to menopausal women, but younger women can be affected too due to the contraceptive pill, monthly hormonal changes, stress and anxiety.’ The use of lubricants can really help. Often GPs will prescribe a hormonal cream or pessary and many gynaecologists advocate using vaginal lubricants to help nourish the delicate tissues of the vagina. Your pharmacist can recommend over-the-counter lubes.
Painful sex due to injury
‘Painful sex can be a sign of damage from previous sex, such as tearing or soreness,’ explains a spokesperson from the Brook Advisory Clinic. You wouldn’t go running if you had a busted ankle, so sex after a particularlyenthusiasticsession, may have resulted in friction that has left you sore. Also: when was your last bikini wax? An ingrowing hair may be difficult to spot but you will sure as hell know about it if it’s down-there when you’re trying to get down to business.
Video: Pain and Itching After Intercourse
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