Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby…

Life is full of boring, mundane tasks. That’s a fact, and it’s unavoidable. There is always washing and cooking, homework and ironing…the list goes on. These chores don’t necessarily make us unhappy, but most of us don’t reveal in the excitement of it. We accept them, do them, and go about our day. But what makes life fun is the balance of these mundane tasks with the things we love. Seeking and finding pleasure is what makes us happy and feeds our souls. But what if the things we love were taken away from us; what if we stopped enjoying them? Where would that leave us?

For many women, sexual intercourse is a pleasure. It’s something they enjoy, something that makes them feel good, something that is a massive part of their lives. Some couples even say it is what bonds them, both physically, mentally and emotionally. But maybe we take it for granted. We presume it will always be pleasurable, a satisfying contrast with our often-stressfullives. Sadly, though, this isn’t the reality for so many people. Did you know that during their lifetime, over 50% of women will experience pain or discomfort during sex? That is such a crazy statistic.  

The medical term for painful sex is ‘Dyspareunia’ and refers to pain that can be felt before, during or after sex. It can be experienced in any area of the genital area and occasionally in the lower back and bladder. Let’s look at some of the possible causes of pain during sex in further detail (please note: this is not an exhaustive list and is not intended as a point of medical reference):  

For most women, painful sex may just be caused by vaginal dryness or changing oestrogen levels due to your natural hormonal cycles. If you are 35 years and above, these could start to fluctuate more frequently as in the case of perimenopause, or menopause. Using a vaginal lubricant or moisturizer can revolutionize sex for you. Helping you to enjoy intimacy again with your partner. Another common cause is a tight pelvic floor or hypertonic pelvic floor. If you have difficulty removing or inserting a tampon or penetration during sex, then taking the time to relax before sex, and engaging in sex in a safe and intimate environment may help your pelvic floor muscles relax. Ensure you leave plenty of time to get yourself in the mood and engage in pleasurable foreplay before penile penetration. A good lubricant and a vibrator, or dilator can also, in some case be helpful.

The side effects of some medication, is another very common cause of vaginal irritation. Our vaginal PH is very sensitive. Medication and fragranced toiletries especially, can cause havoc with the vaginas' natural balance. Please don't use anything apart from water in your vagina or on your labia, unless specifically recommended by your pelvic health specialist or a pharmacist.


Lets look at some other causes which are more common that you would think:


Endometriosis is an uncomfortable and often painful condition, that can be difficult to diagnose due to the vast array of symptoms, many of which are mistaken for other conditions. It is caused by the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus, also developing in other parts of the pelvic region. It often causes pain and inflammation during menstruation as the tissue sheds into the abdominal area. If you have very painful periods please consult your physician.  

Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is usually caused by an allergic reaction in the genital area and can be caused by several things, including certain toiletries, condoms, lubricants, washing detergents and certain fabrics. Extreme pain can be experienced due to cracks and tears occurring in the vulva area. If you are suffering with these kind of symptoms, try and give your labia some space to breath. You could consider not wearing underwear inside the house to allow your labia a break.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

In basic terms, PID is the inflammation of the fallopian tubes, ovaries or womb and can cause sex to be excruciating and unpleasant. This condition should be treated immediately as it can signify a more serious medical condition. Please consult your physician. 


Many women who experience Vaginismus cannot have sex or use a tampon due to involuntary spasms and tightening of the vaginal muscles. Although it can be due to a physical condition, it can also be connected to past and present emotional traumas. Including: sexual abuse, fear of sex, hormone imbalance, or stress.

Ovarian Cysts

Ovarian cysts can develop during pregnancy or result from an underlying medical condition such as endometriosis. These cysts can become enlarged causing pain and discomfort. 


In simple terms, Vaginitis is usually an uncomfortable level of inflammation in the genital area caused by a bacterial or yeast infection. It can often be accompanied by an unpleasant odour or discharge. Please see a physician to get treated as soon as possible if you are experiencing any discoloured discharge or unpleasant odours emitted from your vaginal area.  


Vulvodynia starts as a similar condition to Vaginitis but is not caused by an infection. A cause cannot always be found, but sometimes it can be connected with nerve damage following labour. This chronic condition can last over three months, and the sensation is often one of burning.

This list is not exhaustive. So if you are experiencing pain please don’t start using Dr Google. It never ends well. Confide in a friend, join our support group Pelvic Power Movement Community | Facebook, and seek advice from medical professionals who have heard it all before and can help. There are answers out there for you, so go and find them!


But what next?

Although painful intercourse is very common, sadly, many women live with it without seeking medical help. They are embarrassed and scared because, as a society, we still consider anything connected to our genitals (pleasurable or not) a massive taboo. So many of us would rather live with pain and discomfort than ask for help. What makes it so upsetting is that most of these conditions can be treated. The cause of ‘Dyspareunia’ can often take a while to discover, and the process isn’t always quick, but there is support available,and the treatment options are broad.

Many health professionals recommend keeping a diary of symptoms and taking it to your appointment. This can give your GP the best possible starting point in determining which avenue to explore first. Whatever your fears and concerns, remember that what you are experiencing, the doctor has seen and heard many times before. You aren’t alone. Painful intercourse is not discussed very often, but it is common.


So, why not come and find us!

In the Pelvic Power Movement Community, we discuss topics like this every day, and we are on a mission to stop them from being such a taboo. If you are experiencing pain in your vagina and cannot enjoy sex, then you should be able to talk about it with other people who understand. The purpose of our community is to provide that network. A network of women who have experienced the same things and can give each other the encouragement and motivation to seek help. We might not have all the answers, but we can support you in finding them.

Whatever you are experiencing there is no need to be embarrassed. You deserve to be listened to, supported and given a treatment path that works for you. If you have friends and family members who need us, invite them to join the Pelvic Power Movement Community | Facebook. We are all in this together, and we all deserve to experience pleasurable sex. That’s the least we deserve!


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