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Ouch, That Hurts: Why You May Be Experiencing Painful Sex and What You Can Do About It

by | Pelvic Health

Not been swinging from the chandeliers lately? Sex can be an important part of life and relationships, as well as your overall well-being, yet for some, it can be excruciatingly painful and something you’d rather avoid. Pain during intercourse is much more common than you think, the causes range from physical to emotional, and sometimes both.

Let’s be real, women have had it rough. Women’s health has not been given the recognition and equal representation it deserves. Did you know that research on women’s bodies wasn’t required by the National Institutes of Health until 1993? We have been sitting at the bottom of the barrel for quite some time. In reality, there is a heck of a lot they, and we, don’t know about ourselves.

With a lack of science, one can imagine the disadvantages that have followed us into medical environments. Did you know that in an NCBI study, 20% of women find some sort of pain during sexual intercourse? Unfortunately, it isn’t just pain in women that is poorly researched, it’s the lack of evidence that we have to justify our pain that seems to be the problem.

Could it be your Pelvic Floor?

3 out of 4 women will experience pain during sexual intercourse throughout their lives, medically known as dyspareunia, or in other words, some form of painful penetration or painful insertion.

If you have been wondering if it’s all in your head, it isn’t, and the issue could well be your pelvic floor. If you’re unsure of what your pelvic floor is, shaped like a hammock, it is a group of muscles that support the uterus, bladder and bowel, as well as aid in balance and stability. When they are tightened, you’re basically tightening your vagina, anus and urethra. Being able to contract and relax these muscles are incredibly important for multiple aspects of your life and for pain management, but could be most important in your sexual pleasure. Healthline explains, “Pelvic floor muscles also play an important role in sexual function. Strengthening these muscles can reduce pelvic pain during sex and increase the ability to achieve pleasurable sensations.”

If we have pelvic floor issue when having sex, we could find our muscles can become painfully tight. This can cause an achy pain in the pelvis and pain with any kind of insertion. Even a tampon.

Pelvic floor physical therapy can help with alleviating pain and strengthen your pelvic floor muscles through exercises that are able to train the muscles for your desired result. Physiotherapists and other specialists are able to help you learn exercises, as well as offer various other treatment options, such as biofeedback or stimulation. In some cases, the use of kegel exercises done at home may be enough.

How to fix it?

Firstly, know that you are not alone, :

  • If you feel something is wrong, don’t ignore it, reach out for help. Don’t suffer in silence or be embarrassed, your body may be trying to tell you something.
  • Find the support that works for you. With so many different approaches available, from pelvic floor physiotherapists, sex therapists, to gentle exercises at home, seek out those that suit you best.
  • Identify your symptoms, track or keep a journal of them, and understand how to present them clearly and factually to a trained professional in pelvic care.
  • Talk to your partner, a friend that you trust, or join a trusted online community with others who experience the same. The mental angst that can present itself is just as important to address as the physical issues at hand.
  • Your pain is real and relevant. You deserve to find out why and what is happening, as well as all the ways it can be fixed. It’s not just in your head and a lot of sexual pain can be helped in some way. If you think your pelvic floor could be the problem to your pain during sex, it is a great start and essentially, with the right care, can be a simple fix.
  • Get yourself back to enjoying a much needed pleasurable night and make it all about you! You deserve it.

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