Suffering from painful sex

Painful​ Sex Is NOT Good For Anybody, Especially You.

Look, sex is something that you’re supposed to enjoy. Whether you’re settling down with that special someone, or having a great night out, you’ll want to make sure your sex is enjoyable. Painful sex is not good for anybody, especially you.

So why does it hurt sometimes, and is it even possible to fix it?

There are many reasons why sex can become painful, and you’re definitely not alone. If you’re reading this, and you’re not sure why it hurts or how to fix it, then you’ll surely want to keep reading.

This doesn’t have to be something you go through alone, and you’ll definitely find that you can treat this issue in plenty of ways.

So let’s dive right in, and take a look at how this issue should be addressed and solved.

What is painful sex?

Painful sex is referred to as dyspareunia in the medical world,[1] and it has a wide variety of causes and resolutions. While this can happen in both men and women, it tends to be more likely to happen with women. It might be hard to determine why it happens, but you don’t need to suffer any longer.

Painful sex doesn’t just happen during sex either, and the pain might not be restricted to one given area. Regardless of when you’re feeling pain, it most commonly occurs in the pelvic area, labial area, and vaginal area (in women).

This might seem like a personal problem, and while less than half of the women who experience dyspareunia tell their doctor, you should definitely seek out medical help. 

For you men out there, don’t worry, we’ll touch on that department as well.

It might be embarrassing to talk about it publicly, but your doctor can help you find the solutions you may need.

If this is happening to you, you should seek help to determine and eliminate this problem.

what causes painful sex

What causes painful sex?

Painful sex can be caused by many different things, so it is definitely important to find the specifics of the issue you’re having. 

Some of the common causes of pain during sex include, but are not limited to: [2]

  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Genital irritations
  • Infections
  • Dryness
  • A lack of sex drive
  • Constipation
  • The refractory period (men)
  • Mental problems
  • Too much friction during sex or too much sex in general

Painful sex can definitely occur in both women and men, so it is important to know how it can occur in both males and females.

Painful sex in women

When painful sex happens in women, you might not be too happy about some of the causes. Plus, depending on your age, some of these causes can become more frequent.

When it comes to painful sex and women, you should definitely pay attention to the causes. Your body is trying to tell you something, and you need to listen.

Some of the common ways painful sex can occur in women are as follows: [3]

  • STD infections like gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis, can all cause pain during and after sex. Think of this pain as your body telling you that you have a problem. So if you’ve had multiple partners, or are unsure of your current partner’s sexual history, having an STD test might be the solution to your pain
  • Menopause is something that happens as women grow older, and it leads to dryness in the vaginal area. This dryness can make sexual intercourse much more painful
  • Vaginismus is a condition that forces vaginal muscles to start tightening. This increased tightness can lead to discomfort during penetration
  • Allergies that relate to latex, spermicides, shampoo, or even soap

Now that you know the causes, get to know your body, and try and understand why you might be experiencing painful sex.

Painful sex in men

While it is less common for painful sex to occur in men, it is definitely still very possible. The causes also tend to be different, but they also tend to be easier to determine. So let’s take a quick look.

Some of the common causes of painful sex in men are: [4]

  • STD based infections are one of the leading causes of this issue in men, and some of the most common are herpes, gonorrhea, and syphilis.
  • A tight foreskin can lead to painful sexual penetration because the skin can become pulled back
  • Prostate gland problems can lead to pain both before, after, and during sex as well
  • Testicular swelling tends to occur when you’re aroused, but are unable to ejaculate. This can lead the scrotum to swell up and become sore (if you’ve ever heard of blue balls this is the same thing)
  • Surface wounds can cause irritation during penetration because the vaginal fluid can become an irritant in this case

Now that you know the causes, you should be aware of the different symptoms and treatments.

symptoms of painful sex

What are some of the symptoms of painful sex?

The symptoms of painful sex differ depending on gender, but you’ll definitely know that sex is painful if you’re experiencing it. Let’s break this down between both men and women.

Symptoms of painful sex in women

Painful sex in women tends to be based more on penetration because that is the area where the most pain will occur. Symptoms in women tend to be pelvic problems, pressure issues during penetration, a feeling of tightness, and soreness after sex. 

Symptoms of painful sex in men

When this happens in men, the symptoms are much different. In men, this tends to be more of a swelling or burning sensation.

Of course, if you have any surface wounds, it will feel like you’re pouring alcohol on those wounds. If this is a swelling issue, you’ll notice that your scrotum feels sore and heavy.

The last sensation to talk about is burning, and if that is one of your symptoms, you should definitely consult a doctor to take an STD test.

How should I treat painful sex?

Treating painful sex should be your top priority because it will help you get back to fully enjoying your sex life. The treatments vary based on your gender, but you’ll be pleased to know that there are plenty of easy fixes for you out there. Let’s break this down between both genders.

Treatment in men

If you’re a man looking for relief, don’t worry, because the treatments might not be as bad as you think. Yes, that means you won’t need to worry about any scary needles entering places you don’t want them.

Some of the common treatments for men include: [5]

  • If you’re suffering from an STD, get tested immediately, and make sure you take all the required medications (unfortunately this could mean a needle depending on the infection)
  • If it is occurring due to testicles swelling, try to make sure you finish
  • If you have surface wounds, you should try holding off on sex until they fully heal

Treatment in women

If you’re a woman, and this happening to you, you definitely want this to be taken care of ASAP. Don’t worry, because the treatment might be easier than you think. Let’s take a quick look.

The common treatments for painful sex in women include: [6]

  • Lubricants if the issue is due to dryness
  • A muscle relaxer if you’re experiencing vaginismus
  • Medications if you’re suffering from any type of STD
  • Avoiding certain materials that could lead to allergies that you know you suffer from
  • Making sure your sexual encounter doesn’t last too long

While the treatments may be different depending on you as a person, you’ll definitely be able to find relief if you go about it the right way.

Painful sex can result from a number of issues. They include both psychological issues and physical or structural complications. This is not something new and a lot of women have experienced painful sex at some points in their lives. In some instances, some of them even end up bleeding. Below is an overview of painful sex in relation to different phases in a woman’s life.

painful sex after childbirth

Painful sex – after childbirth

Generally, women need to start engaging in sex around 6 weeks after childbirth. But the process of engaging in sexual intercourse depends on you and your partner. This is because some women may still feel uncomfortable to have sex even after 6 weeks. But what are some of the reasons that may result in painful sex after childbirth? [7]

Vaginal Dryness

After delivery, a female’s body normally undergoes massive changes. One of the most common changes in the low level of estrogen in the body. Reduced production of this hormone normally causes low libido. Its compounding effect is vaginal dryness which leads to pain.

Vaginal Tearing

Vaginal delivery can result in tearing. Although these tears are usually treated using episiotomy stitches, it may be extremely painful to engage in postpartum sex, especially during the first few days.

A Weakened Pelvic Floor

Carrying a baby to term as well as the tension that comes with childbirth usually causes stress to the pelvic floor. As a result, the pelvic floor may end up getting weakened. This might cause painful intercourse.

Perineum Stitches

It’s natural for the vagina to become loose after vaginal delivery. Doctors normally use perineum stitches in order to hold it and make it tighter. However, perineum stitches are sensitive and they need special care. In case they are not attended to correctly, they may lead to painful postpartum sex.

painful sex during menopause

Painful Sex – During Menopause

A woman’s body will undergo massive changes during menopause. The levels of estrogen hormone will drop significantly. During this phase, periods also start to become erratic in addition to other changes. Painful sex during menopause could be as a result of: [8]

Vaginal Dryness

As the level of hormones in the body change, the vaginal tissues end up becoming dry and thin. This means that any slight friction can cause tears which can result in pain. It should be noted that vaginal becomes less elastic during menopause. Therefore, it stretches less.

Health Issues

Menopause comes with a lot of body changes. This means that a woman is also susceptible to numerous health issues. Some of these problems may directly result in painful sex. They include depression, chronic stress, urinary tract infection, and chronic pain syndrome which may affect the vulva.

Fear of Engaging in Sex

Some women have had painful sex experiences triggered by menopause. Even though they might have been treated, the anticipation of engaging in sex can trigger fear. Besides that, previous painful episodes can interfere with arousal thereby leading to pain. It should be noted that fear or worry may quickly reduce vaginal lubrication. So, a menopausal woman may end up experiencing discomfort due to disruptive negative thoughts.

painful sex during ovulation

Painful Sex – During Ovulation

Almost 20 percent of women experience pain during ovulation. In addition to that, over 50 percent of women will end up experiencing pain during ovulation at least once in their lifetimes. Generally, there are women who experience painful sex during ovulation. There are several reasons for this and they include: [9]

Signs of Underlying Medical Conditions

Ovulation pain, especially during sex could be a sign(s) of an underlying medical disorder. In case you experience pain in the lower abdomen, this could be a sign of:

Ovarian cysts: these are pockets of fluid which abnormally accumulate in the ovary.

Endometriosis: this is the most common symptom of pain during ovulation. It should be noted that the endometrium usually extends up to the bowel and it may result in painful sex.

Appendicitis: a lot of women may easily confuse ovulation pain and appendicitis. In case you experience pain in the lower right-hand side of the abdomen, then you need to seek immediate medical examination.

Emerging Follicle

Due to continuous hormonal changes, the ovaries normally produce almost 20 follicles. These follicles have ova i.e. immature eggs. However, its only one follicle that can survive and reach maturity. When this follicle is growing and expanding, a woman may end up experiencing pain during penetrative sex. This is because the follicle also tries to stretch the ovary’s membrane, making it sensitive.

Ruptured Follicle

When there is no fertilization, a mature egg will end up bursting. In some instances, the woman might end up bleeding slightly. During this period, sex can be painful. This is because the abdominal lining is usually sensitive and it can end up getting irritated and the slightest friction. Besides that, the fluids coming from the ruptured follicle may also trigger pain in case of friction.

bleeding after painful sex

Painful Sex – And Bleeding

Painful sex can eventually result in bleeding. It’s normally referred to as postcoital bleeding because it normally happens after penetrative sex. This is not a rare occurrence and it is normally caused by a myriad of factors. It could be as a result of: [10]

Genital Inflammation

Genital sex can be caused by genital inflammation which affects the vaginal tissues. Because these tissues are vulnerable to tear, any slight friction can result in bleeding. These infections include STIs, vaginitis, and yeast infections.

Other factors that may cause bleeding and painful sex include:

Douching: it makes the vaginal tissues dry and sensitive.

Vaginal atrophy which interferes with the elasticity, thickness, and lubrication of the vaginal lining.

Anatomical abnormalities: they may result in painful sex and tearing which may cause bleeding.

Irritants and chemicals: the vagina is a sensitive organ. So, exposing it to allergens and chemicals in the form of lubricants and detergents can easily result in bleeding.

Engaging in sex without getting aroused: the vagina needs to secrete lubricants to ensure that there is no friction during sex. In case you engage in sex before you are aroused, chances are that you might end up bleeding.

Sex is something that you should be enjoying. You shouldn’t have to worry about dealing with pain before, during, and especially after. While everyone’s body is different, you can definitely find the help that you need from your doctor. 

This is a very specific problem, so making sure you know cause it is absolutely essential.

Painful sex doesn’t have to become the new norm for you. People of all ages should be able to enjoy sex to the fullest without dealing with pain or discomfort.

So don’t sell yourself short, and make sure you get back to having enjoyable and pleasurable sex. 

Sources:

[1] Painful sex (dyspareunia) [online]. JeanHailes.org https://jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/sex-sexual-health/painful-sex-dyspareunia

[2] Painful intercourse (dyspareunia) [online]. MayoClinic.org https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/painful-intercourse/symptoms-causes/syc-20375967

[3] Female sexual problems. In: Sexual health. [online]. Nhs.uk https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/sexual-health/female-sexual-problems/

[4] KENNARD, J.; Reasons Men Have Pain During Sexual Intercourse. [online] September 19, 2019. VeryWellHealth.com https://www.verywellhealth.com/pain-during-intercourse-2329078

[5] Male Dyspareunia – Meaning, Causes, and Treatment [online]. Practo.com https://www.practo.com/health-wiki/male-dyspareunia-meaning-causes-and-treatment/142/article

[6] OSHINOWO, A., IONESCU A., ANIM, T.E., LAMVU, G.; Pelvic Pain Management. 2016: Oxford University Press; 2016. Dyspareunia and vulvodynia.

[7] BARRETT G., PENDRY E., PEACOCK J., CIVTOR C., THAKAR R., MANYODA I.; Women’s sexual health after childbirth: A pilot study. Archives of Sexual Behavior. (1999)

[8] CHANNON, L.D., BALLINGER, S.E.; Some aspects of sexuality and vaginal symptoms during menopause and their relation to anxiety and depression. Br J Med Psychol. 1986 Jun;59( Pt 2):173–180.

[9] GUREVICH, R.; Is Ovulation Pain Normal? Understand Why Ovulation Pain Happens and When It’s a Reason to See the Doc. [online]. VeryWellFamily.com https://www.verywellfamily.com/is-ovulation-pain-normal-1960292

[10] SELO-OJEME, D.O., DAYOUB, N., PATEL, A., METHA, M.; A clinico-pathological study of postcoital bleeding. Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics. 2004;270(1):34–36.