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Sex Shouldn’t Hurt — Here is one reason you might be experiencing pain

2 Min Read
Sex Shouldn’t Hurt — Here is one reason you might be experiencing pain

Pain during sex

No, we’re not talking about spanking, biting, or any other form of “rough” sex. If that’s what you’re into, and you and your partner are enthusiastically consenting to it, more power to you. But while bodily pain during sex shouldn’t be normal, that doesn’t mean it’s uncommon.

Why the pain?

People with vaginas experience pain during penetrative sex for a number of reasons. Let's dive into two common reasons:

Could it be lack of lubrication?

While you should always talk to your doctor about what’s going on with you and your body parts, it’s super common to experience discomfort or even pain simply because you’re not “wet” enough. Inadequate vaginal lubrication is nothing to be ashamed of — in fact, it can signal that you and your partner should spend more time on foreplay, and perhaps invest in a lube that makes things even more comfortable. A well-stocked bedside table drawer is critical to a healthy sex life (and luckily, the BTBz shop is here to help.) 

For people with certain medical conditions, however, sex can be painful regardless of the circumstances. Vaginal pain has many possible causes, including period related changes, tight muscles, pelvic issues, and menopause - just to name just a few. One of the most common medical reasons for painful sex is a condition called vaginismus, which affects nearly one out of every ten women. 

What is vaginismus?

If this is your first time hearing about vaginismus, you’re not alone. Like many other topics in women’s health, vaginismus is not a particularly well-known or well-discussed issue, which poses a major hurdle to diagnosis. According to Cleveland Clinic, “Vaginismus is an involuntary tensing of the vagina. Pain can occur during a number of activities: not just intercourse." This includes tampon insertion, foreplay activities such as fingering, and so on. 

There is no clear cause to vaginismus. In fact, according to a paper published by the British Medical Journal, vaginismus is typically thought to be “a clinical syndrome, not a definitive diagnosis, that consists of overlapping elements of hypertonic pelvic floor muscles, pain, anxiety, and difficulty in penetration” (2). 

When left untreated, vaginismus can lead to prolonged anxiety, fear, and pain — and the person experiencing it may likely avoid sex even if they still feel desire. If you or a loved one is experiencing these symptoms, please visit a trusted primary care physician or gynecologist. 

What can I do if I’m diagnosed with vaginismus?

There’s no “one-size-fits-all” diagnosis or solution when it comes to vaginismus — you and your doctor will figure out the best remedy for you if you do have the condition. There are several treatment approaches to vaginismus, including the use of vaginal dilators to help someone stretch their vaginal canal. Silicone, plastic, or shatterproof glass dilators are methodically inserted into the vaginal canal beginning with a small size and then eventually graduating to larger sizes; this process trains the vagina to relax and allow penetration. 

For some people, however, vaginismus is more emotionally driven, and might even stem from intense phobias such as fear of heights or sharp objects.