What to do when intimacy causes pain not pleasure

Aarti Pathak
sad lady with her husband

Dr Paras Shah spoke to Team Bonobology about a surprisingly common female problem which is not openly discussed: that of painful intercourse.

Dr-Paras-Shah-SexologistDr Paras Shah is the Chief Sexologist, Gujarat Research and Medical Institute and Director, Sannidhya Institute and Research Center for Sex, Sexuality and Health.

There are many women who avoid intercourse due to the extreme pain that it brings for them. Sex for them is not a pleasurable experience but a painful one. So what should they do?

Understanding the problem

The first step would always be to identify the cause of pain and discomfort. A sexologist will need a detailed history of the female to zero in on the one affecting her. Many things can cause pain.

  • Vaginal issues: A local infection or even a condition called vaginismus. Vaginismus is mostly prevalent among unmarried women or those who are sexually inactive. Secondary vaginismus is a condition where the vaginal muscles go into spasm during intercourse. If penetration is forced, then the pain obviously increases. Also, with time, the condition only gets more severe.
  • Thyroid problem: This also leads to lack of desire and dryness of vagina. In the absence of proper lubrication, the friction increases, which causes intercourse to be a more of a painful experience than a pleasurable one.
  • Menopause: As is known to most women, the onset of menopause and menopause itself leads to imbalance of hormones, reduction of sex drive and dryness of vagina (among other things). At such a time if the partner tries to penetrate, the woman will feel higher friction and hence pain.
  • Irresponsible or ignorant partner: More often than not, women find sex to be a chore and a painful exercise devoid of any pleasure due to their sexual partners. Often men feel that they’re supposed to penetrate as soon as they get an erection. They pay absolutely no attention to foreplay. If the woman is not ready and the man goes ahead with penetration, it will certainly be an exercise full of pain and devoid of any pleasure for the woman. She will not want to have sex at all.

Related reading: Women want these things in bed from men

What can one do?

    • Meet a sexologist: Only a sexologist will able to identify the root of the problem. A local infection, vaginismus, thyroid or menopause; the sexologist will be able to catch the problem and prescribe the correct medication to follow. For lubrication s/he will suggest a suitable lubricant as well.
  • Discuss foreplay with your partner: For sex and intercourse to be a pleasurable experience for both you and your partner, it is vital that both of you climax. With one partner left unsatisfied or pained, the act can never provide the limits of pleasure that it has the ability to.

    With one partner left unsatisfied or pained, the act can never provide the limits of pleasure that it has the ability to.

    Men are like a matchstick. They heat and burn out quickly. Women are like an electric iron. They take time to both heat and cool off. This difference is important to understand for a sexual experience satisfactory to both. If it is an unpleasant experience for a woman, over time her desire may reduce as well.

Related reading: 10 things couples can do (outside bed) for a better sex life

A solvable problem

Painful intercourse is most certainly a problem that is solvable. It is a common problem and can happen to anyone. There is no need for any woman to live her life in pain and with angst. A sexologist will definitely help her find the cause and cure the problem. The whole world is enjoying sexual intercourse with pleasure, why should it be a painful experience for some women? Catch a good doctor soon!

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