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“Ouch! That hurts!” is one of the last things you want to say during sex and pain is definitely not what you want to feel during sex. Not only can it ruin the mood, but it can create significant anxiety around having sex. In addition, it can cause issues within your relationship. Sex is supposed to be pleasurable not painful. So what happens when it is?

If you are experiencing pain during sex, the first step is to try and figure out what’s causing the pain. There are a variety of reasons a woman may experience pain during sex. The reasons could be physical and/or psychological. The pain could even be the result of something as simple as the products that you are using may be irritating the genital area.

Knowing what is causing pain is crucial to reliving the pain but also to experiencing pleasure. Here are 10 possible causes:

1. Sexually Transmitted Infection

Having a sexually transmitted infection (STI) can definitely have an impact on sexual pleasure. An STI can cause significant pain to your internal and external sex organs. This pain may intensify during intercourse. STIs can also be pretty tricky. Some STIs, particularly gonorrhea and chlamydia, may not show any symptoms until it is too late or until it causes scarring and major damage to an organ. Additionally, some STIs will cause vaginal itching and dryness which may also make sex pretty painful. If you suspect that you have an STI, it is important to be evaluated as soon as possible to relieve the pain and/or reduce the chances of infertility.

2. Dyspareunia

Dyspareunia is recurrent or persistent genital pain before, during or after sex. It can be acquired or congenital or generalized or situational. Dyspareunia is not a disease, but rather a symptom of an underlying physical, biological or psychological factor. The pain, which is often described as excruciating menstrual cramps, can be mild or severe. It may be superficial, felt in the area around the opening of the vagina and vulva. Or the pain may be deep, felt within the pelvic region or lower back. When the pain occurs, a woman experiencing dyspareunia may be distracted from feeling pleasure and excitement of sex. Due to the persistent experience of pain during sex, a woman still may experience pain during sex even after the original source of pain has disappeared, simply because in her mind, she expects to.

3. Endometriosis, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), Undefined Pelvic Pain Fibroid Tumors, Ovarian Cyst, Cancer and Other Medical Conditions

Certain medical conditions may make sex painful because of the scar tissue that forms on internal organs. Not only do these diseases cause pain during sex, but they also adversely affect fertility, diminish quality of life and may cause potentially life-threatening illness. Pelvic pain during intercourse can also result from tears in the ligaments that support the uterus. Regular medical care and treatment of these conditions can help to minimize the effects of these conditions.

4. Lichen Sclerosus

Lichen sclerous is an uncommon condition that creates patchy, white skin in the vulva that is thinner than normal. Lichen sclerous can make sex extremely painful for women due to the itching and scarring. Scarring may narrow the opening of the vagina which can make penetration painfully difficult. In addition, blistering of the skin may make the vulva unbearable to touch. The exact cause of lichen sclerosis is unknown. However, the condition may be related to a lack of sex hormones. Although lichen sclerosus may involve the skin around the genitals, it is not contagious and cannot be spread through sex.

5. Negative Beliefs, Attitudes, Behaviors and Experiences with Sex

Sex is not only physical; it’s emotional, mental and social. The mind and the body work together to optimize the sexual experience. Any negative attitudes, thoughts or beliefs we have been taught regarding sexuality can contribute to unpleasurable sexual experiences. As a result, a woman may experience pain during sex because our bodies are responding to the negative intergenerational patterns, social messages, and misinformation that we have received about sex. In addition, past sexual abuse may subconsciously cause a woman to experience pain during sex. The body’s muscle memory may cause the vagina to tense up upon penetration. Even the thought of past sexual trauma, can be the source of pain. Psychological factors, emotional stressors, dissatisfaction in a relationship can decrease sexual responsiveness, and therefore lead to painful intercourse as well.

6. Products

When Sex Hurts: 10 Most Common Causes Of Pain During Sex  was originally published on

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