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Imagine never enjoying sex because it literally hurts. It happens more often than you think. According to Dr. Lynne T. Schuster, a physician at Mayo Clinic, intercourse pain, or dyspareunia, occurs in 40 percent of women. What’s the cause? You may have vaginismus, problems with the opening of your cervix, or other common issues like an STD. Luckily, you can deal with the problem and get your sexy back.
Here are six ways to alleviate sexual pain no matter the diagnosis.
Pinpoint the pain
Pain during intercourse isn’t the same for every woman, which is why it’s important to pinpoint where the pain is coming from. “For example, some women have pain at the opening of the vagina often caused by spasm of the muscles there,” Dr. Jordan Tishler explained. That pain is specifically caused by vaginismus. However, “other women have pain from their cervix getting bumped during intercourse.” No matter where you feel the pain, you must address it and know how to speak on said pain. That’s the best way to get help!
Lube, lube, and more lube
Lubricant can be the answer to your pre-sex prayers and that’s because many women, particularly those with vaginismus, need a little extra lubrication when knocking boots. Go to your local pharmacy or sex toy shop and buy lube — lots of it!
Slow and steady
Although lubricant can be helpful, your partner’s sexual technique can make a world of difference between sex that is painful and enjoyable — and it’s all about the fingers! “The application of gentle fingers can have a relaxing effect on the muscles around the vaginal opening,” Tishler said. “In fact, the slow insertion of one finger initially, and slow and gentle building up to two or three fingers can be both sexy and provide relief. A gentle downward (toward the anus) pressure with a finger can also help relax the tension in those muscles.”
Sometimes you just need to switch up your sexual position. This is especially the case for women who have pain from getting their cervix bumped during intercourse. According to Dr. Tishler, “the position of the cervix changes throughout the process of sexual intercourse. So a position that might not be good initially, may become good after foreplay or intercourse.” What are some good starting positions? Those that limit deep penetration. Again, ease it in, buddy! Try a “modified missionary position with legs extended (rather than drawn up), on the side (spooning) with legs extended, or from behind but in partial lying position (often with pillows under the hips).”
Speak up! If you’re partner is doing something that pleases you, say so. If it’s hurting you, say so! It’s your body and your pleasure (or pain) therefore it’s essential to provide direction. Choose the position, use your fingers or ease his fingers in. Sex is supposed to be satisfying — take ownership.
Don’t focus on the pain
We know, better said than done! Like anything in life, though, focusing on the negative only breeds more negativity. “Avoid becoming overly concerned about the possibility of sexual pain,” Dr. Tishler said. “While it can be a Catch-22, focusing on the possibility of pain can make it more likely.” Also, remember this is not your fault. You’re not broken or defective. Don’t go into sex feeling defeated or less than. Know that this isn’t your plight to carry alone; many women experience this. Many women seek medical help for painful sex, and so should you.