6 Ways to Empower Yourself & Begin Healing
If you grew up in a sex-positive home where questions regarding sex were encouraged and openly discussed then you’re one of the lucky few. Most people receive limited to no discussion regarding sex from their parents. Parents often struggle to explain sexual wellness basics and completely leave out any discussion regarding pain/pleasure. It should be no surprise then that millions of women suffer from pain during intercourse/penetration and are unsure about what is happening to them or whom to consult.
What Is Female Sexual Pain?
The medical term for genital pain is DYSPAREUNIA. Dyspareunia is the ongoing or recurrent genital pain occurring before, during, or after intercourse. The pain may be a result of medical or psychological causes--an estimated 15% of North American women suffer from dyspareunia. (Mayo Clinic/DSM-V)
Not All Pain Is The Same.
The pain can come in various forms. It may be felt in the vulvar, vaginal, and pelvic floor areas. Some of the most common types of pain are:
Vulvodynia: Chronic pain, burning or irritation around the opening of your vagina (vulva).
Vaginal Pain: Occurs inside the body during vaginal penetration or thrusting. Pain that is internal and, often, triggered by penetration, penis, fingers or sex toys.
Vaginismus: Involuntary spasms of vaginal wall muscles which can make attempts at penetration by a finger, penis, or tampon very painful or impossible.
What Causes The Pain?
The causes for the pain may be a result of (but not limited to): infections, endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, vaginal dryness, tipped uterus, prolapsed pelvis, imperforate hymen, low sexual arousal, hormonal changes, medications, psychological concerns, the size of a partner's penis, or chronic illness.
Unexplained Pain Is Real Pain.
Although many women find an explanation for their pain, others struggle to find definitive answers. It's common for physicians to find themselves stumped when it comes to identifying the source. But the pain is real and healing requires having a supportive medical team that acknowledges and validates patients' concerns.
6 Ways to Empower Yourself & Begin Healing
You DO NOT have to live with this pain. Here are 6 ways to take back control of your life and begin healing.
Talk to your OB-GYN about your pain. First, rule out any medical conditions, such as infections or hormonal imbalances, that may be contributing to your pain. Tell your doctor when you experience the pain and how long you’ve had it. If your physician is not receptive or minimizes your concerns about the pain, consider finding a medical practitioner who will listen and counsel you about all your options.
Talk to your partner about your pain. If you have a sexual partner, tell them when it hurts and avoid genital contact/penetration until you find out what is causing the pain. Many women shy away from telling their partners about their pain for fear of weakening the relationship. This breakdown in communication can lead to women avoiding sex altogether. Talk to your partner and discuss other forms of sexual pleasure you can engage in until you find a solution.
Use a lubricant. If penetration is painful because of vaginal dryness, experiment with the many lubricants out on the market. You can talk to your OB-GYN about the many options if you feel overwhelmed. Be sure to test them out on the skin of your fingertips before using them on your genitals to avoid any allergic reactions.
Try a new sexual position. If a particular position is causing you pain experiment to see what other ones may be more comfortable. Have fun experimenting, but remember to communicate to your partner if it hurts.
Work with a pelvic floor therapist. Despite it's growing popularity, many people are unaware of pelvic floor therapy and the many benefits. Pelvic floor therapists work with the pelvis, spine, and abdomen. They evaluate the pelvis alignment, pelvic structure, and entire body for issues that activate your pain and decrease your quality of life. Talk to your physician about a pelvic floor therapist referral or search http://www.womenshealthapta.org/pt-locator to find one in your area.
Work with a sex therapist. Sex therapy can help address any psychological issues which may be contributing to the pain such as anxiety, relationship conflict, trauma, or low sexual desire. A sex therapist can facilitate the conversations regarding the impact it may be having on your self-esteem and relationship, as well as providing you with homework assignments to begin experiencing pleasure.
Your sexual health is an integral part of your overall health. As a sex positive psychotherapist, I believe sex should be fun not dreaded and should enhance the quality of your life. If pain has robbed you of the ability to enjoy your sex life, then reach out for help today.
Empower yourself and start enjoying a PAIN-FREE and PLEASURE-FULL sex life!
Remember: self-care is not selfish, it’s self-preservation.
Be good to yourself.