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Why is Sex Painful for Some Women?

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?

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.

Post–menopause: 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!