Sex Pain: What Does It Mean When Sex Hurts, When It Never Has Before?

Yikes! This should not be your sex face. | ShutterStock

Yikes! This should not be your sex face. | ShutterStock

Sex isn’t something new for me, but lately it’s been painful. Why could this be happening?

ChickRx expert Dr. Kathy McMahon, Clinical Psychologist & Diplomate of Sex Therapy says:

Thanks for writing in. And sorry that sex has been painful for you recently. Sex is something that should be pleasurable, so let’s try and figure out what’s going on and get to the bottom of this sex pain.

I can think of three reasons sex could suddenly start to hurt.

The first cause is what some would call a “bruised vulva.” Your vulva, the outer part of your genitals, can get bruised just like any other part of your body. This can happen from a number of causes–like hitting a hard bump when you’re on a bike or even from sex. The nerves and muscle of your vulva tissue get bruised, but you might not notice right away. Sexual arousal and penetration could cause swelling, which would would irritate your injury and make the bruise more sensitive. The solution here is time. A vulva bruise will heal, just like any other bruise. You might just want to take a break from sex until it does.

The second issue you might be facing is called vulvodynia, which is a burning in your genital region. There are many causes and possible cures for vulvodynia. The issue that I’ve come across most regularly is actually caused by particularly alkaline urine, which basically means the acid levels in the urine are off. The urine splashes up from toileting and creates irritation. One woman I worked with found that taking 1 to 2 grams of calcium ascorbate (a form of Vitamin C) help ease her pain. If you think you could have vulvodynia, I’d recommend going to a doctor for a diagnosis and treatment plan.

Another potential reason is that some women have a hymen that is particularly thick and tough. This will make her first intercourse painful. Following this, there is often little or no pain for quite some time. Then, about a year afterward, the remaining tissue of the now broken hymen gets scarred from repeated intercourse, and eventually stops stretching. This scar tissue could be what’s causing the pain. Again, the fix for this involves going to the doctor for a closer look.

I know that I said it a few times above, but please check in with a doctor. He or she will be able to diagnose you and get you back on the path to pleasurable, pain-free sex!

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  • Danielle

    Painful sex sucks. I dealt with painful sex for years and by years I mean 5 or 6. The reason for my painful sex was not enough lubricant mixed with a slight allergy to latex and later some lubricants which caused irritation and aweful stinging sensations. I was not ‘getting wet’ for some reason. I had to use water based lubricants which weren’t bad and switched to lambskin condoms which were amazing because they didn’t have the same latex feel and felt a lot more natural.
    After that I took a break from sex for a while and when I finally decided to have sex again, everything went fantastic. No need for lubricants, but still used lambskin or latex free condoms. Haven’t had a problem for a year now.

  • Courtney

    Where are 2013 or january horoscopes?