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Going from “Ow” to “Wow”: Your Guide to Understanding Painful Sex

by | Pelvic Pain, Sexual Wellness

The Short Story: 

  • Painful sex is nothing to be ashamed of and can be overcome with the right approach and resources. 
  • Many women experience “ouchy-ness” down there, so you’re not alone!
  • Pain during intercourse can manifest in different ways, like feeling like you’re being poked by a thousand tiny needles or like someone lit a fire in your lady parts.
  • Painful sex can be treated and managed with the help of a healthcare provider, a.k.a. a “sex wizard”.
  • Common causes of painful sex include vaginal dryness (like trying to start a campfire with wet wood), infections, endometriosis, and vulvodynia.
  • Treatment options include hormone therapy, physical therapy, and psychological counseling—because sometimes all you need is a good therapist to tell you, “it’s not you; it’s your vagina.”
  • It’s important to talk to a doctor or therapist about concerns with painful sex, because nobody wants to be the person that says, “I have a pain in the ass, I mean vagina.”

The Deep Dive: 

Painful sex can be a frustrating and emotionally taxing experience for women. But let’s face it, it’s not like we’re going to the gym and expecting a personal best every time. Many women struggle with painful sex at some point in their lives, and according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, up to 20% of women experience pain during intercourse, which is like trying to run a marathon with blisters on your feet.

First things first, let’s define “painful sex.” Pain during intercourse can manifest in a variety of ways, including vaginal burning, vaginal tightness, cramping, and even bleeding. It’s like trying to put a square peg in a round hole, except the square peg is your partner, and the round hole is your vagina.

The emotional impacts of painful sex can be significant. Women may feel embarrassed, guilty, or ashamed of their pain, leading to a lack of communication with their partners and avoidance of sexual activity. This can lead to feelings of isolation, low self-esteem, and even depression. According to a study published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, women with painful sex reported lower levels of sexual satisfaction and sexual self-esteem compared to women without pain. It’s like trying to sit on a cactus!

But there is hope! Painful sex can often be treated and managed with the help of a healthcare provider. The cause of the pain can be physical or psychological, but in any case, it’s important to see a doctor and get an accurate diagnosis. Some common causes of painful sex include vaginal dryness, infections, endometriosis, and vulvodynia. It’s like trying to bake a cake without sugar.

The treatment for painful sex depends on the cause. But there are many different options available, from hormone therapy to physical therapy and psychological counseling. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, treatments may include topical estrogen, oral contraceptives, anti-inflammatory drugs, pelvic physical therapy, behavioral therapy, and nerve blocks. It’s like trying to fix a leaky faucet with duct tape.

So, if you’re experiencing pain during sex, know that you’re not alone, and there are ways to manage and treat it. Don’t be afraid to talk to your partners, your friends, Elana (we are here for you), your doctor, or a therapist about your concerns. You deserve to enjoy a fulfilling and pain-free sex life.

Remember, painful sex is nothing to be ashamed of, and with the right approach and resources, you can reclaim your sexual health and well-being. 


  1. Painful intercourse (dyspareunia), Mayo Clinic
  2. 8 Causes Of Painful Intercourse
  3. Why does sex hurt?, NHS, UK

Disclaimer: Pelvic issues are serious conditions and should be treated accordingly. Peli Health’s attempt at making the tone funny is to lighten the mood and help the reader feel more relaxed when reading about this subject. We are not medical doctors. We do not diagnose illness. The information on this site is provided for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. nor does it constitute providing medical advice or professional services. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health provider regarding a medical condition

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