Pain With Sex? Why It Happens & How To Help It
Updated: Jul 22
Sex should not be painful.
If you’re reading this blog, it probably is more painful than it should be. Whether this recently started for unknown reasons, or it has been this way your whole life, it doesn’t have to be. Now imagine mentioning this to your doctor and they respond with “Oh, just have a glass of wine beforehand and that should help.” Believe it or not, this happens more than you think and, unfortunately, we hear it more than we want to.
It can be frustrating and you might be thinking something is wrong with you, whether this is how sex is supposed to be, or if it will be this way forever. Is there any solution? You probably don’t even realize how common this is and most people don’t ever speak out about it because they’re embarrassed or they’re afraid of being dismissed.
If you recently started having pain with sex, it can be really frustrating because you know this isn’t normal. But, now you don’t know why it’s happening or what to do about it.
Before we talk about why it happens, let’s first get this out of the way—it can get better! We have helped so many women start to enjoy sex again. No matter the reason, you don’t have to accept painful sex the rest of your life.
Pain during sex can occur for many reasons. One reason is what’s called vaginismus. This is an involuntary contraction of the opening of the vagina and can cause pain with penetration, whether being intercourse, inserting a tampon, or a gynecological exam. This can happen for many reasons, including having a previous painful experience of trauma, menopause, after having an infection, stress/anxiety, giving birth, surgery, and endometriosis. Most people exhibit tension or tightness in the muscles of the pelvic floor as well as the hip and low back which can contribute to additional pain. You may also have pain with urination, frequent urination, constipation, pain with sitting or wearing tight clothing, or even occasional leaking due to the tightness that these muscles create.
If this is something you are going through, whatever the reason, there are solutions!
Pelvic floor physical therapy can help in many ways. Pain can occur due to tension in the pelvic floor muscles, so just like any other muscles in the body, a women’s health physical therapist will help work with you on relaxing those muscles. Options can include breathing exercises, stretches, or hands on techniques to release the muscles. In addition, they can show you how to use dilators, tools that you can use on your own to release these muscles. Particularly with the pelvic floor, there is such a mind-body connection, and a good women’s health therapist can help you understand what is going on with your body and give you individualized tips and skills that you can use throughout the day to help get rid of this pain. Sometimes just having more of an understanding of what is going on can help in itself. We understand that this may seem intimidating and uncomfortable. Make sure you find a pelvic floor therapist that you can trust and are comfortable with. You will work together as a team to find the best solution for you and take it in whatever direction or pace you feel works for you.
There are other practitioners that can help either instead or in addition to pelvic floor physical therapy. This can include mental health experts, sex therapists, physiatrists, urologists. Yoga and mediation can be helpful as well. Your gynecologist can also play an important part to make sure there are no other medical reasons that could be causing your pain. Your treatment should include a team who works together to find the best plan for you.
If you are having pain with sex or other pelvic floor pain, we’re here to help you. We always start with a free phone call to make sure we are the right fit for you. If we aren’t the right fit, we’ll point you in the right direction to make sure you’re getting the help you need.