What to Do When Sex is Painful
We all know that sex is designed to be pleasurable, but there are times when, for lots of us, it can get a little uncomfortable.
In fact, the majority of women and many men have experienced painful sex at some point in their lives.
If you've found that sometimes your 'oohs' of delight turn into 'ows' of discomfort, then don't worry - there are things that you or your partner can do to make things easier.
As a Lovehoney blogger, I believe that nobody should ever have to endure painful sex, so here’s my 11-step guide on how to troubleshoot and fix the cause of it.
Whether you have a vagina or a penis, these steps could help to put an end to painful sex and allow you to become the sex-loving god/goddess that you always secretly suspected you might be.
1. Tell your partner
The most important thing that you need to do is to communicate to your partner that you're experiencing discomfort, and you need to slow down or stop what you're doing.
We say it time and time again, but communication is the foundation of a fantastic sex life. After all, wouldn't you want to know if they were in pain?
2. Ask yourself whether you’re aroused
This is the most obvious reason for painful sex if you have a vagina.
If you’re not fully in the mood before penetration, you’ll be tensed up and less naturally lubricated, which can contribute to painful sex.
If lack of arousal is the problem, try a sensual massage, enacting a new kink or fantasy, or introducing a new toy – all of which are known to boost levels of arousal.
Sex might be painful because you’re tensing up.
If sex hurts often, it’s common for people to tense up in expectation of pain, which can create a self-fulfilling cycle.
Make sure to relax your kegel and leg muscles before penetration, and try not to worry about penetration being painful because this can cause your muscles to involuntarily tense.
A hot bath or some pre-sex cuddles are great ways to feel relaxed before things start getting steamy.
4. Use lube
One possibility is that sex is painful for people with penises or vaginas because there isn’t enough natural lubrication.
Lubes can reduce sexual pain and come in a variety of tempting flavours and varieties, so they’re definitely worth a try.
5. More foreplay
Foreplay is the best way to increase arousal and lubrication, and it can also help you relax.
If sex is painful, it might mean that you’re not getting the amount of foreplay you need.
Alternatively, try a different type of foreplay – if oral does nothing for you but neck-kissing makes your vagina gush like a waterfall, let your partner know!
6. Try solo-play with a toy
Vaginal pain might be linked to anxiety, self-consciousness, or simply an overly excited or well-endowed partner.
Solo play with a dildo can help you figure out which positions and angles feel best for you, or help you gradually work up to full penetration with a partner. Just think of it as doing your sexy homework!
7. Try different condoms/lube
Not many people realise that condoms and lube could be causing their sexual pain.
To rule out the possibility of allergies, it’s a good idea to try a different type or brand.
8. Speak to your partner
Talk to your partner about your needs and how they can be fulfilled, whether this means more foreplay, being more gentle or simply some kind words of encouragement.
Communication is extremely important for good sex, so even if it feels awkward or embarrassing, it’s a good idea to discuss the problem with your partner.
9. Find new ways to have sex
Experiment with positions and angles.
If missionary is painful, try it with a pillow or two under the hips, or a position enhancer.
Girl-on-top positions are great because she can control the angle and depth of penetration.
Sex is about much more than just penis-in-vagina, so experiment with oral, anal and fetish play.
By taking penetration off the table for a while, you can relax and enjoy it without any anxiety about pain, and this can have great results.
10. Go to the doctor
If none of these steps help, consider going to your doctor.
Painful sex in people with vaginas can be caused by conditions such as vaginismus, endometriosis or even infections.
For people with penises, painful sex can indicate sexually transmitted infections or thrush. It can also result from phimosis (tight foreskin).
A trip to the doctor may seem embarrassing, but it’s definitely a good idea if you’re experiencing frequently painful sex.
Doctors can prescribe medications for infections and give treatment advice, for example the use of dilators for vaginismus.
11. Go to a sex therapist
If the issue is linked to anxiety, trauma or any other psychological issues, your GP can refer you to a sex therapist to help you work through any non-physical issues.
These sessions can be undertaken individually or with a partner.
My motto is: Life is too short for bad sex.
Cara is a student blogger for Lovehoney. She studies English and appreciates grammatically correct erotica written in the active voice.
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