Sex is meant to give you pleasure, but what if it is painful for you? Painful sex, also referred to as dyspareunia, is a condition characterised by recurrent and persistent pain while intromission – or the insertion of the penis in the vagina -during sexual intercourse.
Pain may be experienced deep inside or the lower abdomen. As per the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), three out of four women claim to have experienced painful sex at least once in their lifetime. Some people go through it for shorter periods, while some face it long-term. Either way, painful intercourse isn’t an uncommon issue.
Health Shots got in touch with Dr Shashidhar B, Consultant – Andrology, Manipal Hospital, Whitefield, Bengaluru, to understand the causes of painful sex and how to reduce pain during sex.
What causes painful sex?
Sex can be painful due to various reasons. Interestingly, both males and females can suffer from this issue.
Does sex hurt for guys?
The answer is yes. It may be because of the following reasons:
1. Tight foreskin
“From a male perspective, phimosis or tight foreskin stands top in the list of reasons why men can experience painful sex. Many patients experience pain due to this condition, which can reflexively inhibit erections and as a result, they remain in non-consummate relationships,” says the expert.
2. Other conditions
Other potential reasons for male sexual pain can be diseases like herpes, ulcerous conditions, penile infections like balanoposthitis (inflamed gland), and very rarely penile bending or curvature (Peyronie’s disease).
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What causes painful sex in females?
1. Decreased lubrication
A common reason for painful sex is also due to decreased lubrication or lack of lubrication, which is mainly because of the decreased excitement.
“The most common issue is vaginismus or the fear of pain during sexual intercourse. Some women may fear that it will cause pain, bleeding, or cuts, and as a result, they try to refrain from sexual activity,” says the expert.
Women tend to go through hormonal fluctuations during the phase of menopause. This can lead to a dry and thin vagina, making penetration painful.
4. Other conditions
Other conditions that may contribute to female sexual pain may include:
• Ulcerous lesions
• Painful vaginal conditions
• Inflammation (such as vulvovaginitis).
How to reduce pain during sex?
Use these tips to reduce pain during sex:
“The pair can indulge in ample foreplay as this can address the issue of reduced lubrication, as sexual arousal prompts the glands to secrete lubricating fluids, and using specialized lubricating gels can be helpful. Some people also use alternatives like coconut oil for lubrication. These options can significantly enhance comfort and reduce pain during sexual activity,” suggests the expert.
2. Sometimes, give it time
It’s not always the best time to have sex. If a woman has given birth recently or has gone through trauma or experienced injury, then the best thing is to allow yourself the time to heal mentally or emotionally before diving into your sex life again.
Also read: World Sexual Health Day: 6 secrets to keeping your sexual well-being in top form
3. Communicate with your partner
You can communicate with your partner and tell him about the things you enjoy or the ones that hurt. You may spend time with your significant other by experimenting with activities like cuddling or mutual massage.
4. Do Kegel exercises
“Consider incorporating Kegel exercises into your routine to address this issue. Much like any other muscle, the pelvic floor muscles can be effectively adjusted and relaxed as required through physical therapy,” says the expert.
5. Visit an endocrinologist
To address the issue of reducing pain during sexual activity, it is important to meet an endocronologist and get a comprehensive examination done that can help rule out any local conditions contributing to the pain during sexual intercourse.
6. Consider over-the-counter medications
If you feel that the painful sex could be due to some yeast infection, you can head to a nearby drug store that can help you out by suggesting medications for healing yeast infections that require no prescription.
Other pain-relieving measures include:
• Taking a warm bath
• Applying an ice pack on the area that pains
• Emptying your bladder
We hope these tips turn out handy in making sex more pleasurable for you and less painful!