Sex is an important part of many people’s relationships for a number of different reasons. It allows couples to bond, it’s incredibly exciting and it’s just so damn pleasurable.
Or at least that’s how it’s supposed to be.
However, it’s an unfortunate fact that many women endure pain during sexual intercourse which can take the pleasure out of the whole experience. In fact, women are often depicted in movies and television shows as being the ones more likely to experience an unpleasurable experience.
The issue was discussed in a very eye-opening episode of The Doctors:
Pain during sex is certainly not a clearcut issue as there are many factors which play a part in causing it.
However, the Daily Mail has reached out to a Sydney-based physiotherapist and Heba Shaheed from thepelvicexpert.com to find out about the five main reasons women don’t enjoy sex and what can be done to sort the problem.
Pain as a result of endometriosis or inflammation
“There are a number of reasons why women do not enjoy sex, with one of the biggest reasons being pain with sex,” Heba said. “We often hear about weak pelvic floor muscles and consequent bladder control problems but in the case of painful sex, the pelvic floor muscles become too tight.
“This is the case in many women who have endometriosis as the chronic inflammation, stress, and pain can cause them to tense their pelvic floor muscles,” she adds.
“Beyond this, the presence of endometriosis behind the uterus in a spot known as the Pouch of Douglas can also cause deep pain with sex.”
Changes in hormones
Heba explains that sex can also be painful if hormonal changes are occurring in the body. This usually happens in the early postpartum period, when menopause is just about to start or during the actual process of menopause.
“In these times, estrogen drops which can cause the walls of the vagina to become thinner and drier, leading to more discomfort during sex,” she said.
A difficult birth
While many new mothers are advised to wait some weeks before having sex, some are not able to have intercourse for months.
“If a new mother has had a traumatic birth, particularly if she has experienced perineal tearing or vaginal tearing, the presence of scar tissue can cause more pain,” Heba explained. “This can lead to women tensing their pelvic floor muscles further, which can lead to more pain.”
Pelvic organ prolapse
“Women may also experience pain with sexual intercourse if they have a pelvic organ prolapse,” Heba said. “If the uterus and cervix is sagging low, then the act of penetrative sex can be sensitive and painful.”
Heba explained that women with tighter pelvic floor muscles need to relax and stretch these muscles and might benefit from a professional pelvic floor massage.
“If the woman has a pelvic organ prolapse, having a pessary support device fitted by the women’s health physiotherapist or a gynecologist can improve symptoms,” she added. “If her walls are thin and dry, the use of estrogen cream in the vagina prescribed by her doctor can help.
The use of copious amounts of lubricant during sex can also be helpful.”
Not enough sexual stimulation
When there is not enough sexual stimulation, this can lead to pain and discomfort during sex.
“The female arousal system requires about 45 minutes to reach full arousal,” Heba said.
“At this point, the pelvic floor muscles have relaxed, the uterus and cervix have moved up, there is increased lubrication at the entrance of the vagina and higher up near the cervix, and the vagina has lengthened and widened. “In most cases, attempting sexual intercourse with less than 20 minutes of foreplay is a recipe for pain and discomfort. The take-home message for women – foreplay is essential.”
So if you are experiencing pain during sex, it’s most likely due to one of the five aforementioned causes.
If you suffer from chronic pain, you should definitely visit your doctor or a gynecologist so that you can be transferred to a specialist if need be.