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Why Is Sex Painful for Some Women?

Why Is Sex Painful for Some Women?

african american couple laying on bed

Let’s talk about everyone’s favorite subject: sex.

Sex is supposed to feel great—mind-numbingly great. After all, isn’t that the kind of sex people write novels about? It can be devastating when it isn’t like that at all, but it’s important to remember it’s not your fault.

Painful intercourse is also called dyspareunia, and can be due to medical or psychological causes. It affects more women than women—about 20 percent of all American women—and is treatable.  But what causes it in the first place?

Potential Causes

There are a variety of reasons your vagina doesn’t feel its best after sex, and it all depends on you and your body.

  • The First Time: The first time you have sex, it is fairly common to experience mild pain and discomfort. Your hymen, or the thin piece of tissue that partially covers the external vaginal opening, may still have been intact. Or you may not have been fully aroused before penetration, which could lead to dryness or too-tight muscles.
  • After Baby: Your vagina just went through a large change, and it’s understandable to experience discomfort or even a lack of sex drive. Six weeks after giving birth is typically when your doctor will clear you for intercourse, although that doesn’t mean you should expect your sex drive to return to normal on that schedule.
  • Postmenopause: Many women may experience painful intercourse after experiencing menopause. This is mainly due to significant hormonal changes, medical and nerve conditions, as well as depression or emotional issues. A typical condition of post-menopausal women is vulvovaginal atrophy, where dryness and thinning of tissues in and around the vagina is apparent.


Even if those situations don’t apply to you, painful sex isn’t uncommon, and there’s a variety of names for the pain you may be experiencing.

  • The most common problem is lubrication. Vaginal dryness can be caused for a variety of reasons, including the Pill and some over-the-counter drugs, but is easily treatable. If your vagina is too dry to accommodate intercourse painlessly, then just give it a little help: a spoonful-sized amount of lube can be all that’s in between you and a pleasurable night.
  • A yeast infection could be another reason why sex is painful. Studies show that women on the receiving end of oral sex may be more prone to a yeast infection, although it’s a common condition for all women. If your downstairs itches like crazy, and penetration only makes it worse, then you may need to visit your doctor. Treatment is as simple as antibiotics and a correct diagnosis.
  • Sometimes, curing painful sex is as easy as learning the art of arousal: women need a good twenty minutes of warm-up before they are ready. Your body needs time to lift the uterus out of the way and allow the vagina to expand, and only a little time can do that. Sit back and enjoy, ladies!


More serious problems that can cause painful sex for women include a variety of conditions and infections that need to be diagnosed and treated by a medical professional. Here’s a look at a few of those conditions and their symptoms:

  • Ulvodynia is a nervous system disorder famous for being difficult to identify. Often described as pain outside of the vaginal opening, treatment may require medication, physical therapy, or even a little vibrator love to help relax those sensitive nerves. Harsh chemicals in beauty products may make things worse, so be sure to buy all fragrance-free.
  • If you’re experiencing hives or an itchy rash, it may be an allergic reaction. Common allergies range from latex condoms to semen, and treatment will vary based upon what your allergy is to. Synthetic-rubber and lambskin condoms are a viable option if your allergy is to latex, and for semen allergies, more sex is the best cure.
  • Vaginal muscles refuse to cooperate? It’s called vaginismus and its caused by the muscles at the vaginal opening spasming closed. Retrain your muscles to work for you by inserting a tampon for fifteen minutes while you read, and gradually increase the depth and size until you’re ready for pain-free intercourse.
  • Sexually-transmitted diseases may also be an option, and can manifest in a variety of ways: warts, sores, redness, pain, painful urination, cloudy discharge, or even odor.  If you are experiencing other symptoms, in addition to painful intercourse, you may need to talk to your doctor about being tested.

Painful sex for women is not an uncommon disorder, and it isn’t a life sentence. A correct diagnosis is crucial to setting up a treatment plan and getting back in the bedroom. Contact us today for a consultation!