Do you experience pain during sex? You're not alone.
You don't have to be old for sex to be painful. There is a huge misunderstanding about who and why so many are experiencing the problem. When the topic arises, I constantly hear, "Well I'm not that age, so I don't need to worry."
Sexual pain affects 15-30 million women according to the Women's Health Organization and up to 43% of women will be affected by sexual pain during their lifetime. That's almost one in two women, and it's not necessarily because of hormonal imbalance associated with menopause. Sexual pain is often a very real and confusing experience for young women too.
Some of the reasons for sexual pain for younger women and girls include:
- Having sex for the first time. The hyman may not be broken in.
- Being nervous about having sex.
- The vagina isn't lubricated, so it's not ready for penetration.
- Sexually transmitted diseases or infections.
- Side effects of medication.
- Vaginal Diseases that are not sexually transmitted such as vaginismus or dyspareunia.
- Sexual abuse in the past.
- Mental conditions such as depression, anxiety and bipolar.
- Surgeries anywhere in the pelvic area.
- Clitoral and pelvic pain.
- Bladder disorders.
Sexual pain sensation can feel like one or more of the following :
It's definitely not a fun thing to experience and the important thing to know is that you should not be ashamed if you feel sexual pain. You are not alone and this isn't anything to be ashamed of.
6 tips for anyone experiencing sexual pain:
- Go To The Gynecologist: Your pain may be treatable or need immediate medical attention.
- Communicate With Your Partner: Communication is so important for a variety of reasons. If your partner does not know then he or she could feel like something is wrong with what they are or aren't doing, feel rejected, and/or not understand why you are not enjoying being sexually intimate. Speak up in a way that feels safe to you. Let your partner know how they can support you through this confusing time.
- Use A Healthy Lubricant That Soothes And Heals: Personally, I recommend Sex Butter because it was developed specifically for this purpose. The ingredients in Sex Butter are healthy and healing to the skin and tissue, and it's non-toxic in an already sensitive environment. This product lasts long, feels totally natural, and enhances the feel good aspect of penetration.
- Read The Book, Sex Without Pain By Heather Jeffcoat, DPT: It is a wonderful guide to self treating sexual pain with tips on assessing and things you can do to help treat yourself.
- Make An Appointment With A Sexual Pain Medical Specialist Or Sexual Pain DPT If Necessary.
- Enlist The Support And Expertise Of A Sex Therapist Or Certified Coach: Sexual pain can wreak havoc on our self-esteem, so it is just as important to work on the emotional piece as it is the physical. A coach or therapist can help you understand and move through the emotional side-effects that may arise from sexual pain and shame.
The emotional toll of experiencing sexual pain is often swept under the rug for women of all ages. You may told to "use more lube" or "have more foreplay" by doctors and friends alike however that's not always the answer. Sexual pain, though it's been a reality for ages, is still a budding science and is not candidly spoken about. Only 3% of women who experience sexual pain tell their doctors.
Don't let continuous sexual pain go untreated. The pain is letting you know something needs to be corrected and there are things you can do to start your road to feeling pain free. Untreated sexual pain can lead to infection, vaginal tearing, and other more serious matters. You don't have to give up, resign to a life full of pain, or stay silent. You do not have to go untreated or unheard. There are communities of women experiencing the same exact thing. You are not alone. Don't wait to reach out. Start now in your healing journey.
This article was co-written with Nikki Bracco, a twenty seven year old woman who has been experiencing sexual pain since she was twenty.