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Pain during sex – women

Many women sometimes experience pain during sex. Don't carry on if it's hurting. Sex shouldn't be painful.

Pain the first time

Having sex for the first time might be painful. That could be because you’re nervous, tense or not sufficiently lubricated. Inside the vagina, there's a small sensitive membrane: the hymen. The pressure on the vagina, especially if it's dry, can result in bleeding. When you've had sex more often and gain more experience, the pain disappears. Try to prevent it being painful the first time.

What causes pain?

  • You might have pain if your vagina isn’t lubricated enough. A penis or a finger going in can give a burning sensation. Wait until you are fully lubricated before letting the penis slip in.
  • You’re not relaxed. Your vagina is surrounded by pelvic floor muscles. If you're not relaxed, you unconsciously tense these muscles. You could see it as a penis entering a clamped tube. That results in pain and a burning sensation.
  • You're not yet fully aroused. When you're fully aroused, your vagina is deeper and wider.
  • Does it hurt deep in your vagina? That means your cervix is being struck when having sex. Make sure the finger or penis doesn't penetrate too deeply or try having sex in a different position.
  • Having sex is also painful if you have a yeast infection. Then you suffer from itching, redness and thick, lumpy discharge.

Pain prevention

Don't start sexual intercourse too quickly. Men are often more easily aroused than women and are sometimes in a hurry to have sex. This makes some girls think they should adapt to the man's pace, even though they are not lubricated enough. But that won’t help at all! You’re better off taking extra time to get aroused. Your partner will enjoy it as well. Tell him you want to set the pace.

A cut

Do you have a cut or a sore spot in or around your vagina? Wait until it's cleared up before having sex.

Constant pain

Don't suffer in silence, sex shouldn't be painful. It's a good idea to seek help, for example, from Sense or a sex therapist.

If you’ve experienced pain frequently, you can become tense. As a result, you don’t relax your pelvic floor muscles enough. Your vagina tightens up, making it painful if a penis, finger or sex toy goes into your vagina. This happens again and again, so making love is always painful. Tightening leads to pain leads to tightening - a spiral of pain. If this happens often, it’s called vaginismus. The tension in your vagina can be so extreme, that it doesn't allow anything in. Sometimes not even your own finger!

Stop having sexual intercourse completely if it’s always painful. Try enjoying sex in another way until you are pain free.

Tips for a male partner

  • If it's painful for your partner, stop having sexual intercourse for a while. Find other ways of enjoying great sex. Think about kissing, stroking, pleasuring each other with your fingers or mouths.
  • Be understanding. Many girls and women feel guilty about not being able to do ‘it’.
  • Talk to her about it and support her. Maybe she would like you to go with her to the doctor, or to a Sense clinic.
  • You obviously don't want to hurt her. So, if she wants to have intercourse anyway, say no. It may sound crazy, but women sometimes go to extremes to please a man, even when it hurts.

Not lubricated

Not lubricated

Sometimes the vagina is not sufficiently lubricated for sex. That means anything going into the vagina doesn’t feel good. Delay having sex until you’re sufficiently lubricated.

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