HELP, SEX HURTS: ASK C+S
Help 😢 I don’t know what’s been going on with me, but sex just hurts. I either get a cramp in my pelvic area (left ovary), or just major discomfort the entire time. I’m not noticing a ton of other symptoms that match a UTI or a yeast infection... but this pain has been happening for the past several weeks, going on a month. It’s causing me a lot of stress, and relationship frustration. I got off hormonal birth control about two months ago, so not sure if that has something to do with it...? Ugh, regardless I’m tired of going to the OBGYN and not getting personalized help/answers. Any suggestions would be great.
I’m so sorry to hear that you are hurting! Engaging in sexual activity that you desire shouldn’t hurt - so it’s great that you are reaching out for answers. Everyone deserves to have a happy and healthy sex life! Here’s a few things you may want to consider as to why sex is painful for you: Are you stimulated enough to be fully aroused? If you have a vagina, this warm up period is ESSENTIAL. Sexual arousal allows the vagina to produce its own vaginal lubrication both externally (Bartholin’s glands) and internally (engorged perivaginal vessels), as well as a process called vaginal tenting, which causes the cervix and uterus to shift upwards (to accommodate a penis, toy, fingers, etc). This process prepares the vagina for penetration and makes sex easier and more enjoyable. Kissing, feelings of intimacy, foreplay, massage, sex toys and extra lube are all things that can help with this! Start slow and work your way up. Does your vagina seem really tight, making penetrative sex very difficult, painful or even impossible? If it literally feels like nothing can get through there, it could be vaginismus - a condition that causes the pelvic floor muscles to involuntarily contract when penetration is attempted. This condition is treatable, usually using a combination of both body and mind. Have you had a recent Pap, pelvic exam or STI screen? Because you mentioned that this is a relatively new issue, my recommendation would be to bite the bullet and head on down to your OB/GYN’s office for a checkup. I know you had said that you weren’t experiencing any noticeable symptoms (other than pain) that would lead to thinking it was a UTI or yeast infection, however many common STIs (like chlamydia and gonorrhea) can have little to no symptoms, and in some cases, only show up after we’ve had them for a long time and progress to a condition called Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (or PID for short) which could also include the fallopian tubes and ovaries (hence the left sided ovarian pain). PID is easily treated with antibiotics, but could potentially become serious if ignored! Once these things have been ruled out, it will be easier to narrow in on other possible causes for the pain you have been experiencing, such as endometriosis (tends to be a chronic pain and is often cyclical in nature - which doesn’t sound like what you’ve described), ovarian cysts, fibroids, adhesions, etc. Doing your own research before you head in for your appointment and preparing a list of questions and concerns can really help navigate the conversation while you’re there, which can leave you feeling more empowered, and like you’re getting the help you need!
All the best,
Danielle (@fancymustard) is a Registered Nurse who is part of the C+S Team & has a passion for all things Sexual Health. She currently works in Nova Scotia, Canada and splits her time between the Sexually Transmitted Infections Clinic, Abortion Clinic, and caring for people in the community who have been diagnosed with HIV and Hepatitis C.
CYCLES+SEX is not providing medical advice! Check in with your practitioner and use the above as a conversation starter to figure out what is best for you and your unique health history and situation.
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