Surprising reasons for painful sex
Pain during sex is unfortunately a common problem. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), nearly 3 out of 4 women experience painful sex at some time during their lives. But just because it’s common, doesn’t mean it’s easy to talk about. All too often women aren’t sure exactly why they are having pain, or how to fix it, and hesitate to talk to their doctor about it.
It’s important to talk to a physician or gynecologist to get to the root of your problem so you can have a pain-free, satisfying sex life with your partner. There are a diverse set of reasons why some women experience sexual pain with their partners, but there are ways to fix them.
We asked Raquel Dardik, MD, clinical associate professor, department of obstetrics and gynecology at the NYU Langone Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health, about the reasons—some surprising, others not—why sex may hurt.
You’re not having enough sex
If you haven’t had sex for two years, it’s going to hurt, Dr. Darkdik. “It’s like saying, ‘I’m going to run three miles,’ when you haven’t done more than 10 steps in three years.” Just like any muscle, regular activity can keep your vagina healthy and strong. “If you have regular intercourse, the vaginal walls stay stretched and the vaginal muscles stay flexible,” she adds. (Here are other health secrets your vagina wants to tell you.)
You’re stressed out
Stress alone won’t result in painful sex, but it does impact arousal. “If you’re thinking about moving in two weeks or you and your partner were just in a fight—whatever the stressor—it can decrease the amount of lubrication and muscle relaxation,” Dr. Dardik says. A bad case of the nerves has also been linked with pelvic floor muscle spasms and bacterial infections—both common causes of painful sex.