Sex can be painful for many reasons, and there is often more than one thing contributing to the experience of pain during sex. This makes finding solutions a bit like solving a mystery, a very painful mystery. If you are experiencing pain during sex know that it doesn't have to be the way it currently is. And as a general rule, if you are doing something that hurts, try to stop doing it until you can explore your options. Not all of these suggestions will apply to everyone or every situation, but here are some things you can do and consider when trying to figure out what is going on when sex hurts.
Our shame around sex results in a lot of silence and vagueness when it comes to our sexual bodies and sexual activities. You need to start figuring out precisely what is going on in order to figure out what might be causing pain. Ask yourself some questions:
- When did sex start to hurt (or has it always hurt)?
- When does the pain begin? When you're getting excited, when there's a lot of touching, only during certain sexual activities, when you orgasm?
- Where do you feel the pain (is it in one specific area, or more general)?
- Are there still things you can do sexually that don't cause pain?
Explore on Your Own
If you don't regularly masturbate, now is the time to start. If you can masturbate without pain, that is a helpful thing to know. It also means you can satisfy yourself while you figure out how to resume sex with a partner without it hurting. Using masturbation to explore sexual pain can be easier because you don't have to worry about a partner poking you the wrong way. You can be as gentle (or as rough) as you want to be, and you're always in control. If intercourse with your partner is painful, you may want to use a vibrator or dildo (with lots of lubricant) to explore penetration with masturbation, to discover if it feels the same or different.
Try Using Lubrication
Vaginal dryness is one of the common causes of pain during sex. It can also be one of the easiest to deal with. It won't work for everyone, and you need to be careful about the product you are using, but for many using a personal lubricant can be an easy and effective solution to sexual pain.
Communicate With Partners It can be difficult to talk about sex at the best of times. But when you want to talk about a difficult sexual issue the communication can get even trickier. Communication is key to resolving painful sex. Even if the cause is entirely physical, and will go away with treatment, it's still important to talk with your partner about the pain you're experiencing. Talking alone won't convey the experience of living with pain, but you need to start building understanding somewhere, and telepathy just isn't as reliable as written or spoken communication. You also need to talk in order to figure out other ways for both of you to satisfy your sexual needs while you are getting treated. This can be one of the positives of experiencing sexual pain, it can force couples to break down communication barriers and for some people it leads to a better sex life than before the pain was experienced.
Experiment with Sexual Positions
For some pain during sex play can be reduced or even eliminated through adjusting the position your body is in while having sex. There are some basic position tips to reduce or avoid pain that may make a difference for you. Pain may be the result of pressure on joints, or of stress and strain as you move (some positions allow for more movement than others). Everyone is different, and when you have two or more bodies together you have to take every body into consideration.
Get Help and Support from Professionals
This may not be an option for you, but if you have access to a physician and/or other health care providers, speak with them about your sexual pain. Talking with a doctor about sex can feel risky, and it won't always go easy (doctors get very little training on sexuality and less on talking about it) but it's important both because they may be able to help, and also because the pain you are experiencing could be related to other health issues which may have nothing to do with sex, but which could be warning signs that should be noticed.