Pain with sex happens to everyone at some point, but how much is too much? Yes, there could be reasons — like maybe you’re out of practice or having sex with someone who’s well-endowed. But when should you see a doctor about sex pain, aka dyspareunia?
Perhaps the pain is from something controllable, like not enough lubricant. Maybe you are on a new medication, like an antidepressant or certain birth control pill, and it’s effecting your arousal level. But is the sexual pain new? Is there a burning sensation? Does the pain last all day? Does it hurt even just to put a tampon in? Only a doctor could tell you for sure, but there are key warning signs to look out for.
“Everyone gets some aches and pains from time to time,” Dr. Michael Krychman, MD, OBGYN, Sexual Medicine Gynecologist and the executive director of the Southern California Center for Sexual Health and Survivorship Medicine, tells Bustle. “The concern for sexual pain is when it is persistent and does not subside. If it is associated with other symptoms, like nausea, vomiting, urinary pain/frequent urination, bleeding, persistent pain, vaginal discharge that has a bad odor, fever, chills for instance may signal something more pathological is going on. When in doubt, it is always best to consult a health care professional to get a proper evaluation.”
Here’s when to see a doctor about sex pain. Sure, some of the reasons may seem obvious, but they're important to remember. After all, the longer you wait, the worse the condition can get.
1. When You No Longer Look Forward To The Act
You cannot remember the last time sex was not painful, so it’s easier to just avoid it. No matter what position you try, ouch ouch ouch. You cannot keep living like this. (Plus, your significant other probably does not want to either.)
2. When You Are Depressed, Have An Anxiety Disorder, Or Are Stressed
Sometimes, your mental state can impact your level of sexual satisfaction… or lack thereof. Perhaps you suffer from depression, so it’s not as easy to get into sex as it used to be, or perhaps you’re worried and stressed about too many other things—hence, you experience pain instead of pleasure. If it continues for too long, you should probably go consult with your doctor to see what can be done.
3. When The Pain Seems Deep
Sometimes, certain sex positions are the cause of the pain you’re having. But, other times, the pain could be caused by something more serious, like endometriosis, uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts, pelvic inflammatory disease, and a bunch of others. If switching sexual positions doesn’t help alleviate the discomfort, call your OB/GYN instead.
4. When An Infection Is Not Going Away On Its Own
Maybe you’ve bought something OTC for a yeast or other bacterial infection, but it’s still not going away. On top of which, it’s not making having sex any easy either. The infection may be more deep-rooted, and may even be linked to eczema in your genital region.
5. When You’re Having Atypical Symptoms
Whenever you are bleeding randomly, aka not that time of the month, it’s cause for concern. There could be many reasons for it, including vaginitis, STIs—like chlamydia or gonorrhea, cervical dysplasia (precancerous changes in the cervix’s cells), and cervical polyps. Or, perhaps you have a burning sensation during sex, a key sign of vestibulodynia. Better to get it checked out than diagnose yourself.
6. When You Have Sex With An Infection Even Though You’re Not Supposed To
You have a UTI, and your OB/GYN says not to have sex while you’re on antibiotics to get rid of it. But one night, you start feeling better and cave. But the next day, it’s worse again — and you’re almost all out of pills. Given that a UTI can lead to a kidney infection — which is serious business — go see your doctor! Even CVS MinuteClinics can test for UTIs these days and prescribe medicine for them, so go see someone!
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