Experiencing pain during sex is more common than probably we'd like to think, with one in 10 women suffering from it, according to a recent study in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. The causes of this can range from inadequate arousal to serious conditions like vulvodynia. But what about mild discomfort — the kind that’s not debilitating but merely annoying? This doesn’t always point toward a medical issue, but it can be prevented.
First of all, don’t ever feel like you have to push through sex. Even if the discomfort is slight, any pain is too much pain (unless you’re into that). “You don’t want to push it and force yourself to do it just to please your partner,” Dr. Stacy Friedman, a clinical sexologist and certified sex coach, tells Bustle. “This can cause built up resentment and lower the libido where you may not desire sex anymore due to the concern that you will have pain again. Keep communication going with your partner so they are aware and can take care not to pressure or cause more unnecessary discomfort.”
If you want to have sex but aren’t finding it 100 percent pleasurable, here are some ways to maximize the comfort.
1. Use Lube
If it’s your skin that’s feeling irritated, Friedman recommends a high-grade silicone lube. This will minimize any friction in the vagina. No matter how wet you get yourself, the moisture can dry out, and it can never hurt to have more.
2. But Avoid Certain Ingredients
Not all lubes are created equal, and some can actually cause discomfort. Water-based lube can get sticky or irritating, says Friedman. And glycerin can cause yeast infections, Kristen Schultz, a sex educator for people with disabilities, tells Bustle. If your skin gets irritated after you put on lube, shop for a different kind.
3. Change Positions
Sometimes, the issue is just that the wrong parts are rubbing up against each other. If you’re consistently uncomfortable in one position, try a different one, says Friedman. For example, if the discomfort comes from deep penetration, try a position like reverse cowgirl that allows for shallower penetration. If you’re in missionary, putting your legs down can make the penetration shallower.
4. Spend A While On Foreplay
As you get more aroused, you get wetter, your vagina expands, and your cervix moves upward, all of which allow greater comfort during sex. Try to wait until you’re absolutely dying for it, and the sex will probably be better, too.
5. Use Furniture
If certain positions are hard to get into or hold, feel free to prop yourself up with a chair, pillow, or other object. “Pillows and furniture is often underutilized in my opinion,” says Schultz. “These items can be great positional aids and much cheaper than sex-specific furniture.” If you are able to invest in sex furniture, though, Liberator sells products purely for this purpose.
Remember, sex should be pleasurable. No partner in their right mind would want it to be painful for you, so speak up if it less anything less than amazing.