Sex Shouldn't Hurt

woman curled up in bed

Are you enduring pain during sex or avoiding it altogether? Try these tips for pain-free sex.

One of the main complaints that causes couples to seek sex counseling is lack of sex. There are many reasons couples don't enjoy sex anymore. Marital conflict, depression, and stress all affect libido. One of the rarely-discussed but main reasons couples aren't having sex is because it is painful.

When a woman talks about painful sex, the first thing a health care worker will think of is prescribing lubricants. This may alleviate the pain, and may cure the problem, but there are many factors that can contribute to painful sex besides dryness. 6 Ways To Bring Your A-Game To Marriage Counseling (And Save Your Relationship)

The first hurdle to overcome is encouraging couples to address the issue and talk to a health care professional about the problem. Unfortunately, women often believe pain is part of sex, and, as such, they either avoid sex entirely, or silently endure the pain. But sex has so many health benefits, that avoiding it is really a sad solution.

The medical name for painful sex is dyspareunia. It is experienced right before, during, or after intercourse. It can happen in both men and women, but we seem to hear more about it happening with women. There a several common reasons which include: rapid intercourse, an inflamed bladder, dryness, scar tissue, positioning, nerve inflammation, STDs, and sometimes spermicide allergies.

Men may specifically suffer more pain with conditions such as Peyronie's disease (a curvature of the penis caused by scar tissue build up), and inflammation of the urethra or prostate. Women tend to suffer when there is a lack of moisture in the vagina, fibroids, yeast infections, hormonal deficiencies, or difficulty with genital fit.

What can be done to solve the problem depends on the cause. Research in this area has suggested that as many as 80% of people who suffer from painful sex learn to live with the symptoms. In fact, one in three endured painful sex weekly, and half of those surveyed never discussed the problem with their health care provider. Are You a Good Listener?

If you suffer from painful sex, the suggestions I recommend below can help you get started in resolving them.

  1. Talk to your partner and make an appointment together (if comfortable) to see your health care provider.
  2. Ask your health care provider for a referral to a counselor who works with couples sexual issues. The emotional issues accompanying painful sex must be dealt with.
  3. Reassure one another by exploring other options of expressing intimacy. Couples become more frustrated if their options of sexual expression no longer work. Exploring what feels good, and what you are willing to try often solves the problem.

Sex is one aspect of a healthy relationship. When working well, sex is only 5% to 10% of the relationship. When it is not working well, it becomes 90% of the focus. Remember: a healthy lifestyle includes pain-free, enjoyable sex.

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