Sex is supposed to be a connective, intimate, pleasurable, and overall beautiful experience. But for countless women, sexual intercourse couldn’t be further from any of those nice-sounding adjectives.

There are countless ways to enjoy sex, and it should go without saying that sex does not solely exist between a man and a woman. In this blog, the compassionate team at Neuman GYN will be talking about what to do if heteronormative sex is painful. It can be beyond frustrating and disappointing to not enjoy sex in the same way that everyone else seems to (though spoiler alert, you’re not alone and everyone struggles with sex at some point in their lives).

The great news is that there are solutions that could bring you the sexual experiences you’re looking for. At Neuman GYN, we offer laser vaginal rejuvenation, along with other aesthetic services, which could make a difference. Learn more in our blog, and contact Neuman GYN for the best in gynecological and aesthetic services in Jacksonville.

Why Is Sex Painful?

You’d think this would be an easy answer, but it’s not. There are a wide variety of reasons for why sex can be painful, and while there might be some overlap, it’s nearly always on a case-by-case basis. We’ll try to break it down into some of the main categories. As a trigger warning, we will be talking about sexual assault.

Trauma

Women are at high risk for being sexually assaulted. On average, one in three women experiences some form of sexual violence at some point in her lifetime. Such negative, painful, and overall horrific experiences can not only affect the mind (incurring disorders such as PTSD) but also the body.

When the body has been subjected to an attack, it can shut down when it perceives a similar threat. Many women who have been assaulted cannot physically have sex for some time after the attack, or at the very least, not without experiencing pain. They may also struggle with putting in a tampon, or anything else that resembles intercourse.

Before we move on to other causes for why sex can be painful, we just want to reassure, once again, that if this experience is describing your current situation, this is normal. There is nothing wrong with you, you’re not broken, you’re healing, and you’re going to get to a new normal. You’ve gone through a horrible ordeal, and it is absolutely possible to get your life back.

Anxiety

If you’ve ever tried having sex and you weren’t really feeling it, you know that the experience is way different than if you’re into it. Sex is such an emotional and vulnerable experience. If your mind isn’t in the right place for sex, your body usually won’t be either. Feeling anxious, stressed, or worried can all be reasons why you might experience vaginal dryness, which can result in some painful or uncomfortable sex.

For women who haven’t had sexual intercourse, this adds another layered piece to how anxiety can play a role in our enjoyment (or discomfort) in sex. Unfortunately, the idea of “losing one’s virginity” is so ensconced in fear and pain for women. Whereas men get to view it as a rite of passage (and, usually, something that needs to happen as soon as possible), women are told that it will hurt, they’ll bleed, it won’t be fun, and even that it’s sometimes best to just “get it over with.” All of this can lead many women to (understandably) not want to have sex — or want to have sex, but their body is too wrapped up in the fear for sex to comfortably happen (if it happens at all).

Medical Reasons

Vaginismus is “a condition involving a muscle spasm in the pelvic floor muscles. It can make it painful, difficult, or impossible to have sexual intercourse, to undergo a gynecological exam, and to insert a tampon” according to Medical News Today.

Vaginismus can come on due to emotional reasons (such as trauma or anxiety), but it also can happen for medical reasons as well. Infections, childbirth, menopause, or other medical changes can cause it to happen.

Some women experience vaginismus before ever having or attempting to have sexual intercourse; others experience secondary vaginismus, in which they were once able to have sex, but now things have changed.

What to Do if Sex Is Painful

As disheartening as it can be to see all the reasons why you might be experiencing painful sex, take comfort in the fact that a) you are not alone and b) there are countless women who have gotten to a place of where sex becomes enjoyable again. Just because it’s not happening right now doesn’t mean it never will.

Here are just a few things that can be done to help with making sexual intercourse not only attainable, but enjoyable:

Exercises

Kegels and pelvic floor exercises can be helpful for women who are experiencing sexual discomfort due to medical changes, such as childbirth, recovery from surgery, or menopause. You can talk to your doctor or gynecologist about what stretches and exercises they recommend. As always, regular, general exercise is a great way to help maintain your mental and physical health.

Dilation Training

For some women, dilation training has shown to be effective. Dilation training is the process of reducing sensitivity to insertion. Women are usually encouraged to start by touching themselves and their labia, slowly and gradually over time, at a rate that they feel comfortable with. From there, gradually being able to insert a finger is the next step, then plastic inserts that gradually increase in size are the next step.

One thing to note with dilation training: your body and mind need to be emotionally ready for this to not be painful. Talk with a doctor about this process, and pay close attention to our next step:

Therapy

Because painful sex is so often due to emotional reasons that trigger the body’s response, it’s highly recommended that women who are dealing with trauma or anxiety work with a therapist. Talking to a licensed professional can best give you the support you need. Therapists can also recommend other specialists who might be able to help.

Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation

Available at Neuman GYN, our laser vaginal rejuvenation services help stimulate the growth of collagen in your vagina. By replacing old, worn out collagen with healthy, new collagen, it can help improve a plethora of things, such as:

  • Vaginal dryness
  • Vaginal irritation
  • Lack of pleasurable sensations during sex
  • Painful sex

With Neuman GYN, you can get the help that you need. Even if you’re not interested in laser vaginal rejuvenation, we offer a number of other aesthetic services that could make a difference in your life. But if you’re experiencing pain during sex, we highly encourage you to reach out to our expert gynecologist. Dr. Neuman is not just here to help, she wants to help. Make your appointment with Neuman GYN today.