Sex Should Not Hurt
Updated: Feb 1
Hi friends! Today is National Spouse’s Day. We want to take this day to remind you that intercourse with your partner should not be painful! While pain with intimacy (called dyspareunia) is common (1 in 5 women suffer), dyspareunia is a sign that something is not working properly.
Many times, pain with intercourse is caused by the pelvic floor muscles, hormonal changes, infections, and malignancies. Be sure to talk with your providers if you experience any bleeding, discharge, or odors.
Vaginal dryness can make intercourse painful. Inadequate lubrication can be seen with hormonal changes, like those during menopause and while breastfeeding, which can cause vaginal dryness. If this is the cause of pain, using a lubricant can help! Some of our favorite lubricants include Aloe Cadabra, Good Clean Love, and Pre-Seed Fertility Lubricant.
However, lubricants will not solve pain if it has other causes. Overactive pelvic floor muscles are commonly the culprit. The pelvic floor muscles can be shortened and tight causing pain with penetration or pain with simply touching the area.
A condition called vaginsmus is a spasm of the pelvic floor muscles with attempted penetration. Vaginismus can make penetration very difficult and even impossible and is often described as hitting a wall. Vaginismus is not limited to intercourse and can cause pain and difficulty for an individual to allow vaginal entry of a penis, a finger, or any other object, despite their interest to do so (Bo, 2015).
If you have brought up your challenges to providers and they tell you to “just relax” or to “have a glass of wine” you might find this isn’t helping and start to feel hopeless. But there is hope when dealing with chronic pelvic pain and pain with sex. A pelvic floor physical therapist is great at addressing any pelvic issues you may be having.
A dedicated and expert pelvic floor physical therapist will develop and coordinate a treatment plan especially for you. They will want to talk with you and discuss your concerns privately. The therapist will ask questions about your medical history and sexual function to better understand your condition.
A therapist may teach you about techniques like breathing, perineal massage, and more! They may also recommend using products like OhNut to reduce pain with sex. (Use the promo code "MYPFM" for a discount!)
You can ask your healthcare provider for a referral to a pelvic therapist, or you can find a pelvic therapist on your own at myPFM.com. We have links to 4 free searchable databases under Find a PT. Learn more about what pelvic floor physical therapy is here.
We believe sexual health is vital for a person's well-being, happiness, and development, and we hope you do too. If you could improve your orgasm frequency, intensity, and overall pleasure, wouldn't a few hours each week be worth it?
Here are some great resources to help deal with pelvic pain:
Check out the course Women’s DIY Pelvic Pain Relief Program with Dr. Susie Gronski DPT, PRPC, WCS
Watch our YouTube playlist on Pelvic Pain and Your Pelvic Floor
Read the book Sex After Baby: How to Resume Intimacy with Confidence and Ease by Jeanice Mitchell with Dr. Charley Peterson
Watch our YouTube playlist on Female Sexual Dysfunction and Your Pelvic Floor
Read the book Sex Without Pain by Heather Jeffcoat, DPT
Visit our Amazon store for our favorite pelvic health products.
Sign up for our email newsletter!
For providers, check our online courses to help your clients with a history of trauma and pelvic pain. Consider joining our Ambassador Program and most of our courses are included with your membership!
Integrating Trauma Informed Care into Practice with Dr. Krystyna Holland, PT, DPT
Sexual Interviewing with Dr. Uchenna Ossai, PT
Vaginal Dilators: Evidence-Based Research Review with Dr. Amanda Olson, PT, DPT, PRPC
Female Sexual Function, Dysfunction, and Pain with Dr. Heather Jeffcoat, PT, DPT
An Overview of Female Sexual Function and Dysfunction with Dr. Heather Jeffcoat, PT, DPT
Written by Emily Reul, PT, DPT
Ashley Hill D, Taylor CA. Dyspareunia in women. Am Fam Physician. 2021;103(10):597-604.
Bo K, Berghmans B, Morkved S, Van Kampen M. Evidenced-based physical therapy for the pelvic floor bridging science and clinical practice. 2nd edition. 2015.