Sex rarely causes men pain or real discomfort, but for women, these things are far more common. Aside from killing it for her when it happens, if it happens often she’ll understandably start to avoid sex or do it fearfully. Pain and discomfort can be felt during sex, or not felt until after or the next day. Some women will accept a degree of next day discomfort if the pleasure is sufficient, but others won’t see it as an acceptable trade-off. PLEASE take any complaint of discomfort seriously, and do whatever it takes to avoid discomfort and pain.
Some common causes of discomfort and pain:
- Being too rough: Her sexy bits, including her breasts, are far more tender and sensitive than yours are; treating them the way you treat your own body is too rough. Don’t dismiss her saying you’re rough as her being shy, coy, or too sensitive.
- Being too focused on one spot: For the reason given above, too much attention to one spot will make or leave that spot sore.
- Intercourse lasts too long: Go too long, and she’ll get sore – and a sore vagina is not a turn on! How long is too long varies a great deal from woman to woman, so ask her.
- Insufficient foreplay: Foreplay isn’t just to get her “wet enough”. In the unaroused state, her sex organs aren’t up to accommodating you. She needs time for her vulva to swell and her vagina to expand.
- Insufficient lubrication: This is a great way to make her hate sex! Please note a variety of things (hormonal contraceptives, a certain part of her cycle, nursing, certain medications, or menopause) can cause her to not have enough lubrication even when she is fully aroused and very much wanting you. Using a lubricating product is not saying you’re a poor lover or that there’s something wrong with her. Using lube is a loving thing to do! Different folks like different lubes – two that we hear praised by folks are products that contain silicon (many drug stores in the states and chemist in Europe now carry these) and coconut oil (this is a cream at lower room temperatures, but melts on contact with skin).
- Yeast infections: While these may or may not be the result of sex, they leave a woman in a great deal of discomfort, and any sexual contact will be very painful. Occasional yeast infections happen for a variety of reasons and can be dealt with using OTC products. If she has yeast infections often she needs to see a doctor and/or make lifestyle changes to reduce her risk.
- UTIs (Urinary Tract Infections): These are often the result of sex. Because her urethra is short, it’s easy for the mechanical action of intercourse to push bacteria up the urethra and into the bladder. A sudden increase in sex (either starting after a long separation or increasing how often you do it) can cause a UTI or a yeast infection. Other causes are prolonged intercourse, a lack of lubrication, or a new position that rubs her differently.
- Hormone levels: If her hormone levels are off, she may not lubricate well, and/or her tissues can be thin and easily damaged. Hormone levels can be thrown off by having recently given birth and can continue to be abnormal as long as a woman nurses. Menopause and perimenopause also cause hormonal problems, as can hormonal contraceptives. Her Ob/Gyn or general practitioner can prescribe an estrogen cream that will help.
A couple of less common, more serious problems:
- Sometimes a piece of the hymen, a tag of skin basically, will remain and cause a problem. If it doesn’t go away on its own, a gynaecologist can take care of it easily.
- In some women the hymen can heal/close if she had sex just a few times then stopped. Resuming sex will be about the same as the first time.
- In rare instances, the hymen is too tough to break normally. A gynaecologist can fix this easily, and with very little discomfort.
- Vulvodynia and Vestibulitis: Some women have recurring or ongoing pain of the vulva or the entrance to the vagina. While some swelling or redness may be present, often the pain isn’t accompanied by any outward symptoms. Vulvodynia and vestibulitis are very real, very painful, and often very difficult to diagnose and treat. The National Vulvodynia Association is a good resource and a support group may be helpful.
- Vaginismus: This is a spasm of the muscles of the vagina that the woman can’t control. The result is pain for her with any attempt of penetration, and usually, penetration is impossible. More information here. Self-treatment is sometimes very effective for this condition.
- Painful episiotomy scars: Sometimes the scar from tearing or cutting during childbirth doesn’t heal well, leaving a painful spot in the vagina. If the pain doesn’t lessen and go away quickly, she needs to see a doctor.
Other parts of this series (current page in bold):
- How do you get an uninterested or unwilling wife to have more sex?
- Shifting blame to avoid sex, and to avoid dealing with avoiding sex
- Relational intimacy vs sexual intimacy
- She does not enjoy sex
- She does not enjoy sex – physical pain or discomfort
- She feels it’s wrong/bad/dirty/shameful/sinful
- Past sexual trauma
- Not enough time or energy for sex
- She just has not experienced how great sex can be
- Sexual desire in women – spontaneous or triggered?
- Wrapping it up