When you're all tangled up in bed with your partner, there's undoubtedly going to be some discomfort and interesting sensations. And yet, nothing should hurt. (Unless, of course, that's your thing.) Experiencing a lot of pain during sex can be a sign something is wrong, and is definitely a problem worth looking into.
Going to a gynecologist can help clear up any issues that might cause unbearable amounts of pain during sex. But there are also a few tricks you can try first — with extra lube being your best bet. "Using a proper lubricant can ease any pain caused by dryness," sex coach Tiffany Alyse Yelverton tells Bustle. "Lube eases friction and makes sex better."
If copious amounts of lube doesn't fix the issue, talk with a doctor ASAP. "If you are having pain regularly during intercourse, consult your physician to see if it's a biological problem," says sex therapist Stephen Duclos. "If you've ruled out the biological component, and lubrication doesn't work, then you probably need to see a sex therapist. [They] can help you investigate any physiological or social cause, or a problem with technique." If you experience any of the issues below, get to fixin' the problem. After all, sex should be fun and feel good.
1. You Feel Incredibly Sore
While it's normal to feel a stretching sensation during sex, it's not normal to feel sore. "If you feel sore inside the vagina during deeper penetration this can be a sign of a muscle problem (pelvic floor spasm)," says Michael Ingber, MD, in an email to Bustle. "Some women with this feel achy or sore for several minutes or even hours after relations."
2. You Experience Swelling
While incredibly rare, Yelverton tells me some women are allergic to semen. It can cause pain, swelling, itching, and even a burning sensation wherever it lands. And symptoms can even spread to other areas of the body. Yikes.
3. Your Vagina Seems To Clench Shut
Again, sex shouldn't be painful. So beware the signs of vaginismus, which is a condition where the vagina clamps shut during sex, Duclos tells me. If it turns out you have it, don't freak out. Plenty of people have the condition and go on to have healthy (pain-free) sex lives.
4. You Have An Allergic Reaction To Lube
Clearly, lube is the stuff that makes sex better. But it can cause problems all on its own. "Many commercial lubricants contain irritants such as propylene glycol, glycerin, and parabens, so that could be a source of pain as well," says Yelverton. If you feel like your lube is causing a painful reaction, consider switching to a more natural brand.
5. Condoms Make You Feel Itchy
Some people are downright allergic to condoms (hello, latex allergy), while others simply experience irritation from the same stuff that's in lube. "Many condoms can cause irritation too because of the lubricant on them, the fillers, and the fact that they are dusted with Caesin, a dairy derivative," Yelverton says. If you think it's making your sexual experiences too painful, don't be afraid to ask a doctor about other options.
6. You Prefer One Position And Avoid All The Others
Preferences for certain sex positions aside, take note if you can only tolerate sex in one position. "Intercourse should not be painful, but certain positions, due to size and shapes can be more uncomfortable than others," Yelverton says. Switching things up and trying different positions for bigger guys, for example, can help make things easier.
7. You Have A "Sandpaper" Sensation
While you want to feel some sort of friction during sex, you don't want it to be painful or easily described as "sandpaper-y." As Ingber says, "If it feels like sandpaper, razor blades, or a knife-like pain during insertion of the penis (or a tampon) this is a sign of vulvodynia (vaginal pain)."
8. The Pain Doesn't Go Away With Lube
As gynecologist Dr. Fares Diarbakerli tells me, one sign sex is too painful is that it doesn't get better with lube. Taking birth control may be to blame, as it dries up your tissues — often beyond what can be helped by lube. So if you're in all sorts of agony despite the foreplay and the lube, this may be why.
9. You Experience A Burning Sensation
While this can (surprise surprise) be a sign you need more lube, it could also mean you have a UTI. As Yelverton tells me, the burning and stinging associated with a urinary tract infection can make sex painful. So get that thing treated, ASAP.
10. You Catch Yourself Dreading Sex
If the thought of hooking up fills you with dread, once reason can be that you're in too much pain, AASECT certified sex therapist Natalie Finegood Goldberg tells me. Since sex should be something you look forward to, it's definitely worth looking into.
11. You've Stopped Having Sex Entirely
If any sensations or side effects are turning you off from sex, then go ahead and consider it "too much" pain. Sex should be fun and feel amazing, so talk with your doctor (and your partner) if it hurts too much to go on.
If you can treat any underlying conditions, or find the reasons why sex is suddenly such a pain, you can get back to enjoying your sex life. And that's always a good thing.
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