Many products contain chemicals that can cause irritation to the vagina and vulva, leading to pain during sex. Some of those products include: contraceptive foams or jellies, latex condoms, vaginal sprays and deodorants, scented tampons, perfumed soaps, laundry detergents and excessive douching. These products can cause the vaginal lining to dry out, making the vagina more prone to rips and tearing during intercourse. In addition, the products can cause inflammation, intense itching and burning to the vulva. Only warm water and a mild soap, if absolutely necessary, should be used to wash the genital area.

7. Vaginismus

Vaginismus is the physical or psychological condition that affects a woman’s ability to tolerate vaginal penetration as a result of involuntary vaginal muscle spasms. A woman suffering from vaginismus cannot consciously control the spasm. The vaginismic reflex happens as a result of an object such as a penis, vibrator, tampon, etc. coming towards it. And in some cases, even the thought of the object can cause the vagina to spasm. The involuntary muscle spasm makes penetration painful or impossible. Vaginismus can be either primary or secondary. A woman diagnosed with primary vaginismus has never been able to have penetrative sex or experience vaginal penetration without pain. Secondary vaginismus occurs when a woman who has previously been able to achieve penetration develops vaginismus. The exact cause of vaginismus is unknown, however it may be due to physical causes such as an infection or trauma. Some cases of vaginismus may be due to psychological causes like fear or anxiety. It may also be linked to a combination of causes.

8. Sexual Positions

Certain sexual positions can cause pain during sex. Most positions that allow for deep, thrusting penetration can be painful for a woman, especially if her partner is well endowed or if she has an underlying medical condition. Generally, positions that allow the woman to control the pace and penetration, e.g., woman on top, tend to be more comfortable for a sufferer of painful sex. In order to find out what works, experiment with different positions, techniques and props (i.e., pillows) to find out the one(s) that offer the most stimulation with the least amount of pain.

9. Lack of Lubrication and Vaginal Dryness

Another frequent explanation for painful sex is thinning and drying of the vaginal tissue. Normally, the lining of the vagina stays lubricated with a thin layer of clear fluid, however, there are many things that can cause the lining to become dry. As the vagina’s ability to make its own mucus declines, it becomes irritated, itchy and painful. Insufficient lubrication or vaginal dryness can cause mild to significant pain and interfere with sexual pleasure. Vaginal dryness is nothing to be embarrassed about. It affects many women, especially as they age. If vaginal dryness begins to affects your lifestyle, sex life and/or relationship with your partner, consider making an appointment with your physician. You do not have to live with uncomfortable vaginal dryness.

10. Vulvodynia

Vulvodynia is chronic vulvar discomfort or pain, characterized by burning, stinging, irritation or rawness of the female genitalia. In the simplest of terms, it means “pain of the vulva.” There are two main subtypes of vulvodynia: 1) generalized vulvodynia and 2) vulvar vestibulitis. Generalized vulvodynia is pain that occurs spontaneously and is relatively constant, but there can be some periods of symptom relief. Vulvar vestibulitis syndrome is characterized by pain limited to the vestibule, the area surrounding the opening of the vagina. It occurs during or after pressure is applied to the vestibule. The type of vulvodynia and severity of symptoms experienced are highly individualized. Vulvodynia can have a huge impact on a woman’s life. The pain can be so severe that it puts limitations on a woman’s ability to function and engage in normal daily activities such as: work, tampon insertion, gynecological exams, sexual relationships and/or physical activities. Most women with vulvodynia feel unable to have sexual intercourse and unable to fully enjoy life.

When sex hurts, it can definitely damper the mood, the relationship and cause feelings of inadequacy. Please keep in mind that there is a difference between pain and discomfort. Discomfort is a feeling that may not be pleasurable but it is bearable. Pain is a feeling that is totally unbearable. Pain is an indication that something is wrong within your body and whatever it is that you are doing, you need to stop immediately before you do further damage.

If you are experiencing any pain during sex, consider contacting your physician and/or your local sex therapist to get to the root of the problem. Treatment is an option. You do not have to live with unbearable pain forever. Finally, sometimes you might have to get creative and think outside the box when it comes to reducing pain during sex.


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

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