Sexual health is an important part of your overall health. Talk to your doctor if you experience any amount of pain during sex, so you can get the care you need.
Mild or moderate pain during sex can happen because of:
Take these steps to feel more comfortable during sex.
Limit alcohol, which weakens the body’s sexual response.
Ask your doctor about your best treatment option for pain during sex.
Vaginal estrogen can relieve vaginal skin thinning and dryness. Vaginal estrogen comes in many forms, including creams, pills (for the vagina), caplets, suppositories and a three-month slow-release vaginal ring. Used as directed, these therapies do not increase systemic levels of estrogen above the normal postmenopausal range.
If pain during sex is caused by tight, stiff pelvic muscles, a pelvic floor physical therapist can help train the muscles to loosen and relax.
Fear of sexual pain can prevent arousal or make your pelvic floor muscles tighten. That can make the problem worse over time. Talking to a qualified sex therapist can help identify behavioral or emotional triggers for pain during sex, and offer ways to address them.
If your pain is caused by a tight vagina, a vaginal dilator or vibrator can help to stretch and relax the muscles. The dilator provides a gentle stretch and comes either as a static device or one that expands while inserted. Vibrators can increase blood flow and help relax the muscles.
About 20% to 50% of U.S. women experience symptoms in the vulva or vaginal area sometime during menopause. The problems, including pain during sex, may occur early or not until after several years of reduced estrogen levels.
Deep pain during sex may be a sign of:
In almost every case, treatment can help.
There’s no shame in wanting a healthy and satisfying sex life. Your provider wants to be aware of all your health concerns so they can connect you with the care you need. At your next appointment, try saying something like, “Lately I’ve been having sex less often than I’d like, because when I do have sex, it’s uncomfortable for me. What do you recommend?”
Your doctor may perform a physical exam to identify possible causes of sexual pain. Based on the results, you may get other tests, such as a bacterial culture, to determine the best course of treatment.
Talk to a care navigator or schedule an appointment at the Women’s Health & Wellness Center.