Is Painful Sex Normal?

As a sex educator, a common dilemma I hear is a variation of “I feel a little pain during/after sex. Is that normal?” Well, it’s common, but it shouldn’t be normal. It’s a daunting fact that nearly all women who engage in penetrative sex (every 3 out 4 of us to be exact) will experience pain during or afterwards. While it can be a benign discomfort from switching to a position that allows deeper stimulation or a tender feeling of your vagina after rounds of sex, other times, the pain can be a cause for major concern.

So, let’s discuss when pain during sex isn’t that alarming:

Sometimes the problem and solution to pain during sex is simple. For example, the person you’re sleeping with may be on the girthy and longer side anatomically speaking so some positions that involve deeper penetration like doggy style probably aren’t the most ideal. Also, if there isn’t enough foreplay before the sex happens then naturally your vagina won’t be wet enough which will then cause discomfort due to the friction.

Now let’s discuss more alarming causes of pain during sex:

Pain during sex can be explained by some gynecological conditions. For starters, vulvodynia is a pain condition that affects the vulva and it characterized by burning and stinging. This is similar to a condition called vaginitis which also displays symptoms of burning due to inflammation that is caused by a bacterial or yeast infection. A more commonly known disorder that can cause pain in the vaginal region is called vaginismus. This condition causes the pelvic muscles to tighten to the point where penetration is hard or nearly impossible. Lastly, hormonal changes such as perimenopause or menopause decrease estrogen levels, thus, causing vaginal dryness.

What women can do to alleviate pain during sex:

· Use lubricant.

Water-based lube especially helps with vaginal irritation and silicone-based lube has a more slippery consistency that lasts longer.

· Place enough focus on sensual acts before sex.

A full body massage with oil beforehand can be a stimulating part of foreplay that warms up the body.

· Spend more time on sexual acts that don’t involve penetration to the vagina.

Penis-to-vagina penetration isn’t the defining part of sex. Other acts such as fellatio, cunnilingus, and even mutual masturbation can be the focus of the sexual experience.

All in all, pain during sex happens to many women, but with the right knowledge and resources, it shouldn’t be a normal thing.