Painful Sex

What is it?

This is a condition, also known as dyspareunia, where pain is felt during sexual intercourse. This can be a passing episode for most, but for others, a regular problem. This may be caused by some of the issues discussed in the ‘Vulval Pain’ section, or may be because you are not sufficiently aroused. When you are aroused your vagina becomes moist and the vagina expands. If this does not happen it can be painful and sometimes unfeasible to insert the penis into the vagina. Any experience of vagina pain can lead to future cases of the vagina involuntarily tightening.

What causes it?

This condition can be caused by childbirth, particularly if an episiotomy was performed; urinary infections, causing itchiness and stinging; the menopause, during which the walls of the vagina wall can thin; and sensitivity to condoms, where a particular brand may be causing you irritation. If the problem has been with you for some time there may be an underlying medical problem, such as vaginismus. It is advised you visit your GP to be sure.

Can it be treated?

Oestrogen creams can help if the problem is due to the menopause, treatment is available for urinary infections and if you are allergic to a particular brand of condoms then you can try another. If the problem is due to lack of arousal then a therapist can help you get to the brunt of the problem, and also, advise you on several self-help techniques:

  • Learning to relax - We all relax in our different ways. Whatever calms you down, give it a try before having sexual intercourse

  • Pelvic floor muscle therapy - Improves the flow of blood to the genital area and helps to relax the vagina muscles

  • Try something different - Be honest with your partner and inform them of what really turns you on. Fantasy or role-playing may be a great way to alleviate the problem

  • Touching - There is no need to rush into having sex. Try touching and kissing, gradually allowing yourself to become more relaxed and aroused

  • Lubricate - If your vagina is not becoming moist then there are a variety of lubricates available

  • Increase your heart rate - Partaking in an activity that gets your blood flowing is believed to increase your sexual responsiveness for the following half an hour

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