Contributed by – Healthians team 

Pain during sexual intercourse is fairly common and need not necessarily mean that it is an early sign of pregnancy. But, it may happen that you experience pain during sex while you are pregnant because your body is undergoing many changes. Pregnancy, however, is not the only reason for discomfort or pain while having sexual intercourse, there could be various other medical and non-medical reasons. Usually, it’s a temporary situation but if your pain is long term, then it could be a sign of a serious complication. Here, we will look at some possible causes of pain during sex so that you know when is the time to visit your gynecologist.


Causes of painful sex for women

While pain during sex for men is also common and can lead to difficulties with conception, in this article we will focus on various causes ranging from physical to mental that can lead to painful sex for women.


Sexual intercourse or penetration for the first time

The first time you have intercourse or experience vaginal penetration, you may feel small to moderate amount of pain. There may be some bleeding as well or no bleeding at all. Both situations are normal and nothing to worry about. An unstretched hymen is typically blamed for this pain, but the research on this subject is still ongoing. This pain is usually temporary.


Insufficient lubrication

The wall of the vagina usually responds to arousal by producing a liquid that moistens the vagina and its entrance to make the penetration easier. Sometimes, enough lubricant is not produced which in turn may become the cause of pain during sex. Now, there could be many causes of insufficient lubrication. One of them is low estrogen levels which can happen due to hormonal changes or after giving birth. Perimenopause is another reason. While some women, regardless of their age or any other condition, produce less lubricant. In such a case, using a lubricant is suggested to ease the pain.                              


Local infection

Some vaginal infections like monilia or trichomoniasis can be present and you may not notice any signs of them. Friction due to sexual activities can cause the infection to flare up causing pain and itchiness. In case of such infections, it is better to visit a gynecologist to understand the root cause of vaginal infections to get rid of them for good.


Local irritation

Birth control foam, cream or jelly and many vaginal hygiene products like vaginal deodorants, douches, and scented tampons can irritate the vagina or vulva causing pain during sex. You can either try out different brands or find alternative options. Besides, avoid using products that contain fragrances as they are known to cause vaginal irritation.


Causes of pain during sex - Healthians


Pain deep in the pelvis

Sometimes the thrust of the penetration may cause pain deep inside. Tears and scarring in the ligaments supporting the uterus caused by obstetrical mismanagement during childbirth, improper abortion, or pelvic surgery could be one possible cause. Other causes include infections of the cervix, uterus and tubes, cysts or tumors on the ovaries, vagina that has shortened with age or a tilted pelvis. If you feel such pain often or it is accompanied by other symptoms like bleeding or signs of infection, then you should consult a gynecologist immediately.


Hormonal changes

Women, around the age of 45 to 55 years, undergo menopause which decreases the level of estrogen which is linked with lesser lubrication. As discussed earlier, reduced lubrication is a cause of pain during sex. Reasons like stress or certain medical conditions could also change the level of estrogen in the body leading to similar results.


Irritated skin

Certain skin conditions like dermatitis can cause cracks in the skin of the vulva and the external genital area. It can cause burning, itching, and pain during sexual intercourse. Using products like perfumed soaps, douches or lubricants could be possible causes of irritated skin.


Having a baby

You are more likely to have pain during sex if you have had an episiotomy, tears in the perineum during childbirth or are breastfeeding. You can opt for treatments like physical therapy, medication or surgery to fix the issue. Or you can wait for the time to do its thing.


Certain medications

Certain medications can change how you respond to sex. Painkillers or birth control pills are often behind decreased sex drive. 


Emotional state

Relaxing is key to sexual arousal. Feelings like fear, shame, guilt, stress, or awkwardness may make it difficult for you to relax and can thus cause pain during sex. 

After looking at various reasons, it is safe to say that pain during sex can happen even if you are not pregnant. Initiating a conversation with your partner is the first thing you should do about it. If you have questions or are unsure about what to do, then visiting a gynecologist and getting proper information is best.


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