When Sex Hurts
Research has shown that having a good sex life can equate to the same amount of happiness as increasing your salary by $50,000! But what happens if sex is painful rather than pleasurable…?
Some women find that any touching of their vulva is painful (vulvodynia) or sex itself causes pain inside them (dyspareunia). This can be highly distressing and can have a huge impact on a couple’s relationship. What can be done if this is happening to you?
The first thing is to see your GP to check that you don’t have thrush, an infection or a skin condition. If this is the case then having this successfully treated can make the problem go away. For some women however, this isn’t the case and despite all tests coming back negative, they still experience pain.
Although we don’t yet know exactly what causes these conditions, a number of factors have been shown to be linked with sexual pain problems.
An over-active pelvic floor
We hear lots about the problems associated with a weak or over-stretched pelvic floor but some women have the opposite problem. The pelvic floor can be tight and the muscles too active which can cause pain and spasm in and around the vagina. The treatment for this involves learning breathing exercises and relaxation skills so you can learn to let the vaginal muscles fully relax. The Peritone biofeedback unit is a really useful way of finding out how hard your muscles are working. It also helps you to learn how to relax them properly so they don’t cause you pain.
Stress and anxiety
If we feel stressed or have a lot of worries or anxieties then this can cause the pelvic floor muscles to tighten. We know that the pelvic floor muscles react to stress by tensing up, even without a woman realising that it is happening. This can be helped by a combination of relaxation techniques performed whilst the woman is using the Peritone. She can then see for herself how the muscles tense up when she feels wound up and how they relax down when she performs her exercises and techniques.
Problems with lack of foreplay or arousal.
It can take around 20 minutes of foreplay before a woman is fully aroused and ready to have intercourse. Sometimes couples rush too quickly to penetration and this can be the reason why sex is uncomfortable for some women. Encouraging your partner to kiss and cuddle you and gently build up to having full sex may help the situation. If you feel you are too dry then don’t be afraid to try a lubricant as this can make a huge difference.
If you find sex uncomfortable then talk to your GP and ask to be referred to a Women’s Health Physiotherapist who specialises in vulval pain problems or sexual issues. Most Physiotherapy departments have a biofeedback machine but if not, or you want to try one for yourself, then the Peritone is available through Amazon.
By Alison Bourne MA (Cantab) BSc MCSP ACPWH