Is Pain During Sex Normal For Women?

Nearly 3 out of 4 women will experience pain during sex at some point in their lives according to estimates from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

"The bottom line is I think most sexually active women have had pain during sex at some point in their lives," urogynecologist Dr. Cheryl Iglesia told Cosmopolitan.

Now, how do we figure out when the pain is a sign of something wrong? Iglesia explains that it is dependent on two factors — how frequently it occurs and how severe the pain is.

If you only experience the occasional bit of soreness, there is likely nothing to worry about. But if it is something which is "happening every single time, or is a seven, eight, or nine on the pain scale, you should see your doctor," she said.

The medical term dyspareunia describes a recurring pain during and after sex. Women may experience this during penetration, which may involve a penis, fingers, or sex toys being inserted into the vagina. The pain can persist or worsen while thrusting or during what should be the blissful post-coital glow. 

Pain is expected during the first time you have sex said Dr. Kirtly Parker Jones of the University of Utah. This is because the tissues are getting stretched with intercourse for the first time. But when it continues in a recurrent manner, a professional may suspect an infection.

"So certainly, women who have a yeast infection, some women with sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhea and chlamydia, those are situations where someone could have pain with intercourse," Jones stated.

Dryness or insufficient lubrication is one of the most common causes of painful sex. While it might have to do with inadequate foreplay, there are many other possibilities to consider — menopause, hormonal birth control, harmful vaginal products, and certain medications can all contribute to vaginal dryness.

One must also take note of the pain if it specifically affects one area. For example, vulva pain is probably a sign of vulvodynia or a skin infection. But if your pain is felt inside the pelvis, it might be caused by endometriosis, fibroids, or even constipation.

If you experience spasms or find that the opening of the vagina become tightly contracted, the pain may be due to a less common condition called vaginismus. In some cases, this could be psychological in nature, possibly related to past sexual abuse or a fear of intimacy.

But no matter the cause, bringing this up with a gynecologist is highly recommended since dyspareunia can be treated with the help of medication and therapy. The first step for women is to acknowledge persistent pain rather than to ignore it, blame themselves, or allow it to affect their sexual pleasure.