If you occasionally experience pain during sex, don’t worry. 75% of women will experience pain during sex at least once in their life. However, if you are experiencing pain often, or everytime, you have sex, you should consult a doctor.
There isn’t just one type of pain with sex. Conditions like vaginismus — when the opening of the vagina involuntary contracts — can make sex painful if not impossible. If you’re born with a retroverted uterus — meaning it’s tilted backward instead of straight — you can also experience pain during certain sexual positions.
In the following post we look at a few different pains/symptoms and what could be the cause behind them.
- Symptom:Your genitals feel itchy and penetration makes it feel worse
Though various conditions can lead to itchiness, the most common cause is a yeast infection. Yeast infections are very common and can often result from from taking antibiotics, scented bubble baths, wearing underwear made of synthetic materials, and so on.
Yeast and bacterial infections can inflame the walls of the vagina, making sex uncomfortable.
It’s worth noting that the Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), like chlamydia and gonorrhea, can also cause itchiness and pain during sex, however, unlike yeast infections, is left untreated, they can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease and chronic pelvic pain.
Not being sufficiently aroused
- Symptom: It seems as if he’s going to burst through your cervix
There could be a number of causes for this. If you’re not sufficiently aroused, the different parts in your reproductive system might not be ready for penetration.
When a woman is ready to have sex the uterus is pulled up into the abdomen and the muscles around the vagina relax, creating space.
It’s also worth noting that your cervix changes throughout a woman’s cycle in response to the hormone oestrogen. When fertility is high and ovulation is near, the cervix opens up and becomes high, soft, and harder to reach. After ovulation, the cervix lowers, closes, and becomes firmer.
- Symptom: Feels like his penis is made of sandpaper
Vaginal dryness can happen even if you are aroused and is one of the most common causes of painful sex. Certain medication – including the Pill, antidepressants, some allergy and cold meds, as well as breastfeeding, can stop juices from flowing down there.
Vaginal dryness can easily be counteracted by applying a water-based lubricant during foreplay. A US study found that women who used lube while having sex reported significantly less pain and much higher levels of satisfaction.
- Symptom: Your vagina clamps shut when he tries to enter
Vaginismus. This painful but treatable condition causes the muscles at the entrance to the vagina to spasm at penetration, making intercourse all but impossible.
Vaginismus is the fear of penetration associated with involuntary muscle spasm, and treatment involves overcoming the fear, learning to control the pelvic floor muscles and stretching them sufficiently to allow penetration.
Sex therapy, psychotherapy and pelvic-floor physiotherapy can also be used to break down muscle knots through massage.
- Symptom: Your get really itchy and swollen after sex
An allergic reaction, probably due to latex condoms or your lube.
Women are more likely to experience an allergic reaction to a latex condom than men,” says David Lang, MD, Chairman of Cleveland Clinic’s Department of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
Latex is a milky fluid from the rubber tree. It’s the main source of natural rubber.
Latex sensitivity develops in some people over time through repeated exposure. It causes the same type of skin reaction — red, itchy bumps — you might see from poison ivy.
True latex allergies are even more rare. But they cause a more severe response. You may notice itching, hives and swelling. You may also have difficulty breathing and feel like your throat is closing up.
The vagina’s mucus membranes make it easier for latex proteins to enter the body. During sex, women with latex allergies may encounter vaginal swelling and itching.
Though most condoms contain latex, there are a few alternatives made from plastic, synthetic rubber or other natural products. Alternatives include:
- polyurethane condoms: These are made of thin plastic instead of rubber. They offer similar levels of pregnancy and STD protection. However, they don’t fit as tightly as latex condoms. So they are more likely to slip off. They also cost a little more.
- polyisoprene condoms: Made from synthetic rubber, these don’t contain the same proteins that cause an allergic reaction. Compared to latex condoms, polyisoprene condoms are stretchier. They also offer similar levels of pregnancy and STD prevention.
- female condoms: This is the only option a woman can wear. A flexible, soft plastic pouch inserts into the vagina with a flexible polyurethane ring coated with a silicone lubricant. The levels of pregnancy and STD prevention are similar to other condoms.
- lambskin condoms: Made of sheep intestines, this condom is the only one made of a natural animal product, so it doesn’t contain any of the proteins that prompt the latex allergy. While lambskin condoms are effective against pregnancy, tiny holes in the condom are big enough to allow viruses that cause STDs to pass through. Only use lambskin condoms if the risk of STDs isn’t a concern, Dr. Lang says.
Other common causes of pain during sex are constipation, muscle spasms, endometriosis and cysts.
Have you ever experienced pain during sex? We want to hear your stories.