Uncomfortable sex or painful sex is certainly not pleasurable sex. But changes in sexual position, among other things, can improve the situation for you and your partner.
An active sex life is important to your overall health, but it can be difficult to engage in sexual intercourse when you experience uncomfortable sex and impossible if you’re having painful sex. Any discomfort may be a sign of a problem that needs treatment.
Both physical and psychological issues can lead to uncomfortable sex or painful sex in men and women. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help make sexual intercourse comfortable again.
What Causes Uncomfortable or Painful Sex?
Some of the factors that may cause you to feel discomfort or pain during sexual intercourse include:
Vaginal dryness. This is the most common cause of painful sex in women, and it can also make sex painful for men. Vaginal dryness, or a lack of moisture in the vagina, can result from certain medications, health conditions, and psychological issues.
Pregnancy. While many women enjoy an active and comfortable sex life throughout their entire pregnancies, some pregnant women find sex uncomfortable, especially as the uterus grows larger. Hormonal changes during pregnancy and breastfeeding sometimes lead to vaginal dryness, which can result in painful sex.
Menopause. Around the time of menopause, women’s bodies produce significantly less estrogen. As the level of this hormone declines, the vaginal walls tend to thin out and become dry. This is why many women complain of uncomfortable sex or painful sex at this time in their lives.
Psychological issues. Emotions play a major role in both men’s and women’s ability to enjoy sex. In women, fear, guilt, anxiety, and the emotional toll of negative sexual experiences can prevent them from becoming aroused and producing the lubrication they need for comfortable sex. In men, the same emotions can lead to pain during sexual intercourse.
Health issues. For men and women, irritation, inflammation, or infection of the genitals can cause uncomfortable or painful sexual intercourse. In women, soaps, vaginal sprays, and douches can irritate the vulva and lead to painful sex. Conditions such as vaginitis, endometriosis, and pelvic inflammatory disease can also cause uncomfortable sex in women. In men, allergies to contraceptives and infections such as prostatitis can make sex uncomfortable or painful.
Other conditions. Women who feel sexual pain deep inside their bodies may have a serious problem, such as a uterus abnormality, a mass in the pelvis, a disease of the bowel or bladder, scar tissue, or cysts on the ovaries.
Treating Uncomfortable or Painful Sex
Here’s what you can do to help make sexual intercourse more comfortable:
Rule out serious conditions. Since discomfort or pain during sex can be a sign of a health problem, see your doctor to rule out any serious medical condition. Your doctor can also review your medical history and medications to look for a possible cause of your discomfort. Sometimes simple steps, such as switching medications or treating an infection, can help relieve painful or uncomfortable sex.
Use a lubricant. If vaginal dryness is the cause of your painful sex, using a vaginal lubricant in the form of a cream, jelly, or suppository can add moisture to the vagina and help make sex more comfortable for both partners.
Consider hormonal therapy. Some menopausal women who are having painful or uncomfortable sex benefit from taking estrogen therapy. But talk with your doctor about the benefits and risks of hormonal therapy for your particular situation.
Try a new sexual position. If a certain sexual position is causing you to feel pain or discomfort, experiment with new positions to see if they are more comfortable. For instance, women who are pregnant may find the missionary position uncomfortable and may enjoy sex more when they are on top or on one side with their partner behind them.
Talk with your partner. Because emotional issues can lead to uncomfortable or painful sex, it is important to talk with your partner about what arouses you and what problems you are having with sex. Many times, the two of you can work on your sexual chemistry and resolve the problem.
Consider sex therapy. In some cases, emotional problems that are interfering with your sex life can be managed by working with a sex therapy counselor.
Remember that sexual pain or discomfort can be a serious issue, and it is important for you to address it so that you can enjoy the happy and healthy sex life that you deserve.