If your Oooooooos are more Owwwws, you’re not alone. According to Emily Sauer, founder of the Ohnut, painful sex affects up to 75 percent of all women at some point in their lifetime.
Let’s say that again: Up to three-quarters of all women experience painful sex at some point in their lives. For some, the pain is temporary, the result of childbirth or vaginal dryness during certain times in their cycle – for others, it’s chronic. Many women's pain can be solved with a good vaginal lubricant or intimate moisturizer; some may require a little more help.
Women who have pain or fear pain may start avoiding sex, which can be hard on intimate relationships, and they miss out on all the physical and emotional health benefits of a fulfilling sex life.
Sexual health is part of overall health and well-being, and pleasure during sex or intercourse shouldn’t be considered just a “nice to have.” So why does pain happen, and more importantly, what can we do about it?
According to pelvic physical therapist Rachel Gelman, “Pain with sex can be due to many factors, and a person usually has several factors at play. They can be anything from hormonal dysfunction to myofascial restrictions. As a pelvic floor physical therapist, I address the musculoskeletal piece that may contribute to pain with sex, but a patient may need other providers on board to address the other elements that may be driving their symptoms. Those providers may include a sex therapist, OBGYN, urologist, naturopath, or acupuncturist. The process can be frustrating but know that there are providers out there who can help!”
So be aware that you may need help both zeroing in on the cause and choosing the right solution.
Don’t endure painful sex or give up intimacy entirely. Devices like the Ohnut can be part of the fun, if you keep minds and lines of communication open. And introducing a toy or vibrator like the smart Lioness Vibrator sex toy can extend foreplay, help you feel more ready (and thus more relaxed and possibly more lubricated), and bring the fun back to a potentially stressful time.
Don’t wait. According to Rachel, “If a person is experiencing pain with sex, they should consult their healthcare provider. I know many people report their providers don’t ask about sexual function, and it can be intimidating or embarrassing to bring up, but no one should have to suffer in silence and there are many treatment options for someone experiencing pelvic pain.”
In short: If it hurts, start talking. If your doc doesn’t ask about your sex life, tell her. Because there are so many possible issues, getting properly diagnosed means identifying the right solution and getting your better sex life back that much faster.
If you need support in managing painful sex, a menopause-certified physician can be helpful. Book a visit with a Gennev doctor.
Have you experienced painful sex? What did you do or are you doing to deal with it? We’d love to hear from you, so please share in the comments below, on Gennev's Facebook page, or in Midlife & Menopause Solutions, Gennev’s closed Facebook group.