Was it good for you too?
It’s no secret we all love doing the horizontal tango. It’s the universal beat keeping this ol’ world (and our heads) spinning. It’s fun, it’s fabulous, and it’s free.
However, regardless of its perks, sometimes sex can turn into something slightly less pleasant, especially for women. And there’s no faster way to dampen the fires of passion between you and your SO (or fling) then pain during sex.
There are all sorts of reasons for intercourse to hurt, anywhere from the exterior of the vulva right down to the cervix, and according to GP and sexual health consultant Dr Emma Boulton, the most common ones may surprise you. Thankfully though, they’re all treatable, so there’s no need to grit your teeth through discomfort any longer…
1. Yeast infections
“When women have a yeast infection, it causes an inflammation of the vulva, which makes people want to scratch. This irritates the entrance to the vagina and can make sex painful,” explains Boulton.
“A yeast infection can also cause a curdy discharge in addition to itching and pain. Aside from the usual treatments of creams, pessaries, and oral medication, keeping the pH of the vagina low with an acidic spray from your pharmacy can help prevent the infection. Semen and menstruation lower the pH, so keeping your vagina more acidic is very beneficial.”
2. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
According to Boulton, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, or PID, is a serious cause for concern, and generates a deeper, more throbbing pain inside the lower abdomen.
“PID is a bacterial infection of the fallopian tubes and the cervix. In addition to deep abdominal pain, symptoms sometimes include a fever, and often unusual discharge. It is very important to see a doctor, as it must be treated or can cause infertility.”
If you’re experiencing symptoms, see you GP for a check-up. If you do have PID, your doctor will likely prescribe a course of antibiotics. To prevent it, always use condoms, which create a barrier against infection.
3. Pressure on the cervix
Pressure from your partner’s penis bumping the tip of the cervix can be quite uncomfortable. Boulton asserts while it’s important to first eliminate the possibility of PID, this pain can be stopped by simply switching up your position during sex.
“After you’ve excluded the potential for any infections, have a chat to your partner about different sexual positions. Once you’ve wriggled around a bit, you’ll figure out the moves to make sex enjoyable for both of you. It varies from body to body, so keep trying until something works!”
4. Vaginal dryness
“Vaginal dryness is common in older women around the time of menopause, as there is less oestrogen present in the body. In younger women, it occurs as a result of sexual anxiety, and perhaps not engaging in enough foreplay. This leads to not enough vaginal lubrication.”
Because lubrication is essential to ease things along during intercourse, a lack of it can cause a stinging, burning sensation as a result of excess friction. So if you suffer from dryness, try spending longer engaging in foreplay to warm up for the main event in order to allow your vagina adequate time to create lubrication. If that doesn’t work, a personal water-based lubricant can provide a comfortable alternative.
5. Skin irritation
Just as some of us have naturally sensitive skin on our faces, you can also have sensitive skin downstairs.
“It’s a very sensitive area, usually covered by material which rubs, and can leave an irritation,” Boulton states.
“Things like waxing, or any kind of beauty-related chemicals or procedures involving the vagina can cause a superficial irritation. To fix it, start off with any simple over the counter ointment containing zinc. Just ask your pharmacist for their recommendation. Keep the area clean and dry, and wear cotton underwear, as it is less likely to irritate.”
Endometriosis is a common condition and is very treatable. However, according to Boulton, it is also very under-diagnosed. In addition to painful sex, it can also cause painful periods, and if untreated, infertility.
“Put simply, it’s a condition where the cells which would normally line the uterus are located outside the uterus, but still behave as if they are inside the uterus,” explains Boulton.
“Sufferers of endometriosis will feel a very deep pain during sexual intercourse, and it is extremely important to see a doctor if you suspect you have it. A sexual health professional or GP will prescribe an arthroscopy to detect any rogue cells. If you’re found to have the condition, surgery is not always necessary. In less severe cases, hormonal treatment is enough to be rid of it.”
This condition involves involuntary spasms of the pelvic floor, causing the vagina to tense up.
“Nothing can get in there; no tampons, no fingers, and certainly not a penis,” says Boulton.
“It can be triggered by a fear factor. If women are scared, or have had a bad sexual experience, it often relates. However, the spasms can also be entirely inexplicable. Counselling is helpful, as are sex toys to slowly introduce your vagina to penetration. Pelvic floor physiotherapy is also a good option, as it teaches women how to relax those muscles.”
Another alternative treatment that’s had promising success rates for sufferers of vaginismus is Botox injections into the vagina, which help to relax the muscles by weakening them. Ask your GP for an assessment to discuss potential treatment options.
Images via tumblr.com and giphy.com.