“Ouch! That hurts!” is one of the last things you want to say during sex and pain is definitely not what you want to feel during sex. Not only can it ruin the mood, but it can create significant anxiety around having sex. In addition, it can cause issues within your relationship. Sex is supposed to be pleasurable, not painful. So what happens when it is?
If you are experiencing pain during sex, the first step is to try and figure out what’s causing the pain. There are a variety of reasons a woman may experience pain during sex.
The reasons could be physical and/or psychological. The pain could even be the result of something as simple as the products that you are using may be irritating the genital area.
Knowing what is causing pain is crucial to relieving the pain but also to experiencing pleasure. Here are 10 possible causes:
1. Sexually Transmitted Infection
Having a sexually transmitted infection (STI) can definitely have an impact on sexual pleasure. An STI can cause significant pain to your internal and external sex organs. This pain may intensify during intercourse. STIs can also be pretty tricky. Some STIs, particularly gonorrhea and chlamydia, may not show any symptoms until it is too late or until it causes scarring and major damage to an organ. Additionally, some STIs will cause vaginal itching and dryness which may also make sex pretty painful. If you suspect that you have an STI, it is important to be evaluated as soon as possible to relieve the pain and/or reduce the chances of infertility.
Dyspareunia is recurrent or persistent genital pain before, during or after sex. It can be acquired or congenital or generalized or situational. Dyspareunia is not a disease, but rather a symptom of an underlying physical, biological or psychological factor. The pain, which is often described as excruciating menstrual cramps, can be mild or severe. It may be superficial, felt in the area around the opening of the vagina and vulva. Or the pain may be deep, felt within the pelvic region or lower back. When the pain occurs, a woman experiencing dyspareunia may be distracted from feeling the pleasure and excitement of sex. Due to the persistent experience of pain during sex, a woman still may experience pain during sex even after the original source of pain has disappeared, simply because, in her mind, she expects to.
3. Uterine Fibroids
Certain medical conditions, such as uterine fibroids located near the cervix, are often the underlying cause of painful sex. Pressure placed on these fibroids during intercourse can cause anything from mild discomfort to severe pain. For some, friction can also be a factor. Positioning can affect your level of pain during sex with fibroids. It may be helpful to experiment with different sexual positions to see if there is one you might find more comfortable. Remember that communication is key; although it may feel awkward, we encourage you to talk openly with your partner. If you’ve been diagnosed with fibroids and are experiencing painful sex that is affecting your sex life, personal relationships, and self-esteem, we encourage you to seek treatment from a fibroid specialist. You may be surprised to learn that nonsurgical methods can quickly and effectively improve your symptoms.
4. Lichen Sclerosus
Lichen sclerous is an uncommon condition that creates patchy, white skin in the vulva that is thinner than normal. Lichen sclerous can make sex extremely painful for women due to the itching and scarring. Scarring may narrow the opening of the vagina, which can make penetration painfully difficult. In addition, blistering of the skin may make the vulva unbearable to touch. The exact cause of lichen sclerosis is unknown. However, the condition may be related to a lack of sex hormones. Although lichen sclerosus may involve the skin around the genitals, it is not contagious and cannot be spread through sex.
Vulvodynia is chronic vulvar discomfort or pain, characterized by burning, stinging, irritation or rawness of the female genitalia. In the simplest of terms, it means “pain of the vulva.” There are two main subtypes of vulvodynia: 1) generalized vulvodynia and 2) vulvar vestibulitis. Generalized vulvodynia is pain that occurs spontaneously and is relatively constant, but there can be some periods of symptom relief. Vulvar vestibulitis syndrome is characterized by pain limited to the vestibule, the area surrounding the opening of the vagina. It occurs during or after pressure is applied to the vestibule. The type of vulvodynia and severity of symptoms experienced are highly individualized. Vulvodynia can have a huge impact on a woman’s life. The pain can be so severe that it puts limitations on a woman’s ability to