Studies suggest that over 75% of women will experience pain during intercourse at some point in their lives. Sometimes this is due to medical conditions such as vaginismus or uterine fibroids, but it is most commonly caused by simple issues that can be addressed without the help of a doctor. Keep reading for five strategies to reduce or eliminate pain during sex.
Use a Vibrator
Yes, please! Originally marketed as medical devices, vibrators can help you out in the bedroom in more ways than one. Using a vibrator for pleasure during foreplay can lead to stronger arousal, increased lubrication, and full tenting of the vaginal canal. If your pain is caused by being too tight in general, a vibrator can help relax those muscles before using a dilator set or performing physical therapy exercises.
Do Your Kegels
Kegel exercises help strengthen the pelvic floor, a network of muscles that support your reproductive organs and control your bladder and bowel functions. Generally, these muscles stay relaxed before and during intercourse until the point of orgasm, but sometimes stress, a lack of arousal, or a medical condition can cause them to tighten up and make penetration painful. Regularly exercising your pelvic floor by consciously contracting and relaxing these muscles will help you know how to release that tension if it occurs during sex.
If you only experience pain intermittently during penetrative sex, take a look at what positions you commonly use with a partner. It could be that the angle or depth of penetration is causing discomfort - with a slight adjustment, sex can be enjoyable for both of you! If you would like to explore this on your own before sharing your concerns with a partner, masturbate with a dildo or other penetrative sex toy at a variety of angles to find which works best for you. If you're willing to work it out with a partner, try cowgirl or reverse cowgirl to kick things off. If depth of penetration seems to be an issue for you, try some variations on doggy style. If the angle is a problem, invest in a wedge pillow to help tilt your hips up. If neither of these quick fixes gives you relief, there's always the option of skipping penetration entirely in favor of oral sex, fingering, or mutual masturbation.
Use Plenty of Lube
Pelvic pain during intercourse is often caused by chafing and micro-tears; some women just don't naturally produce enough lubrication to last a whole session, and others are affected by medication side effects, anxiety, hormonal issues, or a number of other factors that can contribute to vaginal dryness. There is no shame in using lube to improve the quality of your sex life, especially if it means you won't be in pain! A good lube can increase the pleasure of both parties. When choosing a lubricant, remember that oil-based lubes can degrade latex condoms and damage the silicone found in many sex toys. Water based lubes like Sliquid work with all condoms and sex toys; they also last longer during intercourse and can easily be reapplied. Stay away from anything labeled "tingling" or "exciting" as it may irritate the inside of your vagina and cause further discomfort.
Use a Device
While the vagina can usually expand to accommodate the average penis with little difficulty, sometimes structural issues occur. If pain during sex is caused because the male partner is hitting your cervix, try a device meant to limit how deeply he can penetrate you. The OhNut is an FDA certified intimate wearable. It consists of a series of soft, flexible rings that stack around the base of his penis and act as bumpers to prevent him from going too deep. While this can affect physical sensation for both partners, the difference is minimal when weighed against the possibility for pain-free intimacy.
Easy changes to how you prepare for and have intercourse can reduce or eliminate discomfort during sex. If none of the options above work to relieve your pain, consult a gynecologist for further help. There is no reason to live with pelvic pain!