Why does sex hurt my vagina? Unfortunately the answer to this question may not be straightforward, but we are here to help you pinpoint the cause. If you’re wondering why sex hurts your vagina, it’s likely that you have not yet discovered an imbalance somewhere in your body, or perhaps even in your psyche.
Painful sex is all too common, but not all women feel comfortable exploring the avenues that will lead to respite. This is often because it can mean being vulnerable in front of a range of different people, from professionals to romantic partners – and these things don’t always feel comfortable. However, if your vagina hurts during sex, seeking assistance may be necessary. Depending on the cause of painful sex, it might not go away on its own, and suffering in silence long term is just not a sensible option.
In this article we aim to shed some light on the issue by answering some of the most important questions about painful sex. Read on to find out why sex is painful, what it feels like and what you can do about it…
Is it normal to have pain during sex?
Ultimately, experiencing pain in life is ‘normal’, as nobody gets through life without any. However, pain is a messenger. It is there to tell you that something is wrong, so it should get your attention. It should never be dismissed as “just one of those things”, even if it is only intermittent (as opposed to consistent or prolonged).
To put things into perspective, if sex hurts your vagina, you are one of millions of women who feel pain before, during, and after sex. Studies indicate that it happens to up to 18% of women around the world, with lifetime estimates ranging between 10 and 28%. The name for this problem is dyspareunia, and it comes from the Greek word dyspareunos, which translates to “badly mated”. Anything that takes the enjoyment out of one of our most natural forms of intimacy (and of course the necessary route to procreation) should be treated as a problem.
Why does sex hurt my vagina?
When you first research the possible reasons why sex hurts, things can get confusing. The causes of painful sex are abundant, and pain is an abstract thing. It’s not always easy to describe, and sometimes the origin of the pain is difficult to pinpoint. This is especially true when it is happening inside the body. Below we have outlined the most likely reasons sex hurts your vagina:
Painful intercourse is commonly caused by a condition called vaginismus, in which women experience a persistent or recurring difficulty in allowing vaginal penetration. Even the prospect of penetration can cause the muscles to tighten involuntarily, leading to pain during sex, or making sex impossible.
Vulvodynia is another gynecological condition that causes painful sex in women. It is characterized by severe pain in the vulvar area, and experts have not found a definitive cause.
Lack of lubrication during sex
If your vagina hurts when you have sex, it could simply be that you are not lubricated enough. Doing whatever is necessary to increase desire levels is a good place to start, but you may need some assistance in the form of water-based personal lubricant.
When we go through the menopause our hormone levels naturally start to decline, so we have less estrogen present. Initially this can lead to a lack of libido, but also less lubrication and blood flow to the vagina. Both of these things can make sex less comfortable or enjoyable, and the result maybe pain in the vagina. Some women may develop vaginal atrophy after the menopause, which can tighten and shorten the birth canal, and cause inflammation of the tissues.
Trauma or injury to the pelvic area
Sometimes trauma or injury to the pelvic area can lead to pain in your vagina during intercourse. For instance, tears to the flesh during childbirth, any kind of accident in the pelvic area, or pelvic surgery.
Side effects from medications
Certain medications may cause unwanted side effects, including dyspareunia. This is often because, as with estrogen drops, desire and lubrication are inhibited. If you are experiencing this and it seems unusual (or you have been on long term medication) it is worth checking the side effects with your Doctor and perhaps switching to something else if possible.
Skin disorders or infections
Some causes of painful sex are more obvious, although you might not have been given an official diagnosis. For example, eczema or UTIs, sexually transmitted infections, or lichen sclerosus (a condition that causes the skin on to become inflamed and scaly).
Radiation or chemotherapy
Cancer treatments can have a negative impact on a woman’s sex life, for various reasons. They can lead to physical changes such as vaginal atrophy (also known as atrophic vaginitis), scarring and adhesions, lack of libido, dryness and tearing of the tissues. Even anal radiation can cause vaginal side effects. All of these things could cause pain in your vagina when you have sex.
What does pain during sex feel like?
Sexual pain symptoms can feel quite different for different people. We all have varying tolerance levels for pain and perceptions of it. However, if you experience any of the below sensations before, during or after sexual intercourse, your pain could be classified as dyspareunia:
- Aching sensations
- Uncomfortable tightness
- Cramping (akin to menstrual cramps)
- Burning pains
- Searing or stabbing pains
- General irritation, itching and inflammation (vaginitis)
You might experience dyspareunia pain in your vagina, your bladder, or your urethra. It can happen during foreplay, penetration or even afterwards (despite not having pain during sex). The pain could be felt superficially or deep inside your vagina, and it might only happen some of time, or with certain people, or in specific situations. If the latter two possibilities sound familiar, your painful intercourse may have a psychological root.
What is the best treatment for painful sex?
Vaginal dilators (also called vaginal trainers) are proven to be one of the best ways to improve your sex life. Dilators treat painful sex by helping your vagina to become accustomed to penetration. They can desensitize it in instances of vaginismus and vulvodynia, and when necessary, expand or restore vaginal capacity. These tube-shaped tools are a clinically proven medical solution for painful sex.
Relieving sexual pain with vaginal dilators is definitely possible, and in fact well documented in clinical studies. Depending on the issue you’re dealing with, dilators can ease the vaginal pain and discomfort associated with sexual intercourse, since they can gently stretch tight tissues and increase blood flow to the area. You can use them at your own pace, working up through the sizes according to your capacity and progress.
VuVatech magnetic dilators are one of the most trusted home treatments for dyspareunia. A double-blind placebo study by Physician Care Clinical Research demonstrated that 80% of participants confirmed that their pain dramatically diminished after using our magnetic vaginal dilators. We hope that this article has been helpful, and as always we’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have about our dilators.
Do you need to order vaginal dilators so you can start your pelvic floor therapy process? Made in the USA. Visit www.vuvatech.com
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Tara Langdale Schmidt is the inventor of the VuVa Dilator Company. She has pelvic floor dysfunction herself and wanted to create a dilator set that is made in America that women can trust. VuVatech has been in business since 2014 and has helped over 50,000 women all over the globe. She patented the Neodymium Vaginal Dilator, that is clinically proven to help with blood flow and nerve pain.