When you’re having sex, the last thing you want to do is feel pain. After all, sex is supposed to be this pleasurable experience that you enjoy every time you have it. But surprisingly, it’s not uncommon to feel pain during sexual intercourse.
While this topic remains hush-hush, painful sex is a genuine problem, and it’s one that you’re not alone in experiencing. Many men and women feel discomfort in the bedroom, but luckily, if you’re wondering how to make sex less painful, there are tips you can use next time you get intimate.
However, before you implement those tips, it’s important to know the basics around painful sex and why you’re experiencing it in the first place.
What is painful sex?
When you feel pain during sexual intercourse, there’s an official term for it: dyspareunia. Men and women can both experience this condition, but dyspareunia is more common in women, and specifically, postmenopausal women.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) even found that 75 percent of women feel discomfort during sex at some point in their lives, meaning there’s a lot of women toughing it out during intercourse when they should be having fun.
For some women, the pain they feel from sex is a temporary issue that they can readily fix with the right remedies. But for others, it can be a long-term problem.
What causes pain during sex?
It’d be nice if there were one reason to explain why painful sex happens so frequently. But in reality, there are many causes of dyspareunia. Common reasons include the following.
1. Vaginal dryness
A lack of lubrication is probably the biggest reason for painful intercourse. Feeling stressed or fatigued or not doing enough foreplay can make it quite difficult to get the lubrication you need. However, low estrogen levels, menopause, breastfeeding, and certain medications can also lead to vaginal dryness.
2. Retroverted Uterus
When your uterus tips toward your rectum or spine, it’s called a retroverted uterus. Some people call it a tipped or tilted uterus, but despite its many names, it usually stems from one source, and that’s genetics. If you have a retroverted uterus, it can make deep thrusting or certain sex positions very uncomfortable.
Vaginismus happens when the muscles at the opening of your vagina contract and then tighten involuntarily. This reaction may occur while you’re having sex or inserting a tampon. Vaginismus usually results from fear, and it’s especially prevalent in women who have experienced sexual abuse.
Endometriosis is a chronic disease that more women are starting to openly discuss, mainly because it’s so prevalent. It’s a painful condition that happens when the tissue lining your uterus grows outside of its boundaries and spreads to your ovaries, fallopian tubes, cervix, and bladder. And when you have endometriosis, discomfort during sex is almost guaranteed, and the pain can last for one or two days after intercourse.
Another reason for painful sex is vaginitis, which is a formal way of saying inflammation of the vagina. This inflammation can occur because of bacterial or yeast infections, and a clear sign of it is discharge and a burning sensation in your vagina and vulva.
Outside of the five reasons mentioned above, other physical causes for painful sex include:
- Skin conditions that lead to burning, itching, cracks, and ulcers
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
- Urinary tract infections and yeast infections
- Radiation and chemotherapy
- Trauma or injury from childbirth, a pelvic surgery, a hysterectomy, an episiotomy, or an accident
- Uterine fibroids
- Vulvodynia, which is pain around the vulva area
- Various conditions like diabetes, cancer, thyroid disease, and arthritis
Additionally, you can experience discomfort during sex because of factors that decrease your arousal or sexual desire. For example, those factors could be following:
- Body issues or a poor self-image
- Stress, which can make the muscles of your pelvic floor tighten
- Relationship problems
- Guilt, fear, or shame around sex
Based on the cause, you may need to see a doctor or gynecologist to learn how to make sex less painful. This is especially true if you have a medical or sexual health condition. Also, trying different therapies can be beneficial if you’ve experienced sexual abuse or other trauma that’s preventing you from having an enjoyable sex life.
How to make sex less painful with these tips
In most cases, painful sex isn’t an issue that you have to deal with forever. You can typically relieve the discomfort by finding a safe and effective remedy that helps make intercourse more enjoyable. For example, here are five solutions that can make sex less painful.
An easy way to relieve pain during sexual intercourse is with lubrication. Vaginal dryness is common, but you can easily reduce it by getting a lubricant. However, be careful with the type of lubricant you buy.
Some of them are slippery. And in worse-case scenarios, they do more harm than good. Feminine care products, including lubricants, typically contain harmful ingredients because the FDA doesn’t regulate them. Some of those bad ingredients include parabens, citric acid, glycerin, benzocaine, and petrochemical, all of which can lead to UTIs, yeast infections, burning, and itchiness.
2. CBD and Delta-8 THC
Two surprising remedies that help make sex less painful are CBD and Delta-8 THC. Both are natural remedies, so they don’t include any of the harmful ingredients that traditional sexual health products can contain. Even better, CBD and Delta-8 THC enhance your sex in various ways.
For starters, CBD helps decrease anxiety, allowing your body to relax during sex. And CBD also alleviates pain by softening the vaginal wall when it gets hard.
Additionally, Delta-8 can reduce pain and increase sexual pleasure by connecting to receptors in your vaginal lining and cervix. It also deepens your relaxation to loosen up your body and remove tension.
And if you’re worried about getting a psychoactive effect from Delta-8 THC, don’t worry. It will provide all of these benefits without causing you to get high, and the same is true for CBD.
3. Over-the-counter medication
If you have a yeast infection, going to the drug store for over-the-counter medication is a great idea. Your local pharmacy should have remedies that don’t require a prescription. However, you can also relieve the pain from a yeast infection by taking a warm bath, using an ice pack, or emptying your bladder.
4. A hiatus from sex
Sometimes, when you’re experiencing pain from sex, it’s simply a sign that you need to take a break. And if your body is telling you it needs a hiatus, listen to it.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to stop all forms of intimacy. You can do other things to keep the spark alive. But taking a break from sexual intercourse can be a great way to give your body time to heal so that your next experience in the bedroom is better.
5. A sex-positive environment
Another great way to make sex less painful is to create a good environment that gets you in the mood. When you’re not fully relaxed or living in the moment, it can make your body tense and your sex painful. But if you can create a sex-positive environment, you can decrease your discomfort.
So next time you’re about to have sex, play relaxing music, light candles, get the room temperature right, put comfortable linens on your bed, and declutter your bedroom so you can relax in it. While taking these steps may sound cheesy, it can definitely help make your sexual intercourse more comfortable.
Sex should be pain-free and pleasurable
Sex is something you should enjoy every single time you have it. It should be pain-free and fun. But if that’s not the reality for you, it’s okay. Don’t stress. There are ways to make sex less painful. Just use one or more of the strategies listed above, and speak with a doctor if necessary. By taking those steps, you should be able to have good intercourse and reclaim your sex life.