Sex rarely causes men pain or real discomfort, but for women these things are far easier and thus more common. Aside from killing it for her when it happens, if it happens often she will 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 will not see it as a good 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, so treating them the way you treat your own body is probably too rough. Don’t dismiss her saying you are too 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 will 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 is not just to get her “wet enough”. In their unaroused state, her sex organs are not 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 that 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 are a poor lover or that there is something wrong with her – but it 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. Very occasional yeast infections happen for a variety of reasons, and can be dealt with using OTC products. On the other hand, if she has yeast infections often, she needs to see a doctor and/or make life style changes that will reduce her risk.
- UTIs (Urinary Tract Infections): These are often a result of sex. Because her urethra is very 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. Prolonged intercourse, too dry, or a new position that rubs her differently can also cause problems.
- 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 does not go away on its own, a gynecologist can take care of it easily.
- In some women the hymen can heal/close if she has sex just a few times then stops. Resuming sex will be about the same as the first time.
- In rare instances, the hymen is too tough to break normally. A gynecologist 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 is not accompanied by any outward symptoms. Vulvodynia and vestibulitis are very real, very painful, and often very difficult to diagnose and treat. This support group may be helpful.
- Vaginismus: This is a spasm of the muscles of the vagina that the woman cannot control. The result is pain for her with any attempt of penetration, and usually penetration is impossible. More information here.
- Painful episiotomy scars: Sometimes the scar from tearing or cutting during birth does not heal well, leaving a painful spot in the vagina. If the pain does not 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