Does Sex Hurt? Tips and Tricks to Reduce DiscomfortJan 09, 2023
Sex shouldn't be painful, unless you want it to be. But, in this blog, we are talking about sex that should be painless, but isn't. If you do experience painful intercourse, you are not alone. Many believe it is normal and that the act of sexual intercourse is inherently painful. And we know, just because it's common, doesn't mean it's normal, or optimal.
Dyspareunia, or pain with sexual intercourse, affects all genders. Unfortunately, dyspareunia is often neglected for several reasons.
1. Not knowing which type of practitioner to discuss symptoms with. And more importantly, having the time, space, and vulnerability to talk to a practitioner about this intimate issue (Insert Find a Pelvic Health Physical Therapist Here 🙋🏻♀️). But really, we are the practitioners of choice to discuss all things sex.
2. Being dismissed by practitioner(s) and told "just relax", "have a glass of wine", "it's fine", "it's normal". But ugh, the "have a glass of wine before sex" thing really gets us fired up 🤬.
3. Sex culture. Attitudes toward sex and the perceived role of sexual activity are very strongly influenced by cultural values. We need everyone, especially women, to feel safe opening up about sexual experiences. This is how we grow as a community.
Dyspareunia can affect one's mental health, relationships, and quality of life. Fortunately, dyspareunia can be managed with a team of practitioners, including a pelvic health PT.
Here are ways to manage dyspareunia:
1. 360-Degree Breathing (diaphragmatic breathing techniques). Breathing in a 360-degree manner can help turn off our sympathetic, fight or flight, nervous system and kick on our parasympathetic, rest and digest, nervous system. It encourages mobility, down regulation of our nervous system, and relaxation of the pelvic floor. Click Here to Review 360-Degree Breathing
2. Pelvic Floor Relaxation. A few simple stretches can be helpful in relaxing tight, uncomfortable pelvic floor muscles. These exercises can be performed 1-2 minutes at a time, with 360-degree breathing techniques several times per day and immediately before sexual intercourse.
3. Modify Sexual Positions. Try a side-lying position, lying on your back with pillows supporting your knees relaxed open, or positioning yourself on top of your partner may work better for your body. When you feel safe, comfortable, and in control, we are able to relax our minds and bodies.
4. Use Lubrication and Reapply as Needed.
- For those breastfeeding, using birth control, or are in menopause, reduced estrogen levels may decrease lubrication. Vaginal moisturizers, a great quality lubricant, and discussing estrogen supplementation with your physician can be helpful. DO NOT BE AFRAID TO USE MORE LUBE.
- Choose a lubricant that does not contain glycerin, nonoxynol-9, petroleum, and/or propylene glycol. We love Slippery Stuff, UberLube, and Good Clean Love products. Remember, silicone lubricant may interact with silicone toys/products and oil-based lubricant may break down latex condoms. CBD lubricant can also help relax the pelvic floor muscles.
5. See a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist. In physical therapy, we focus on reducing pain, improving muscle tone, and performing manual therapy technique to aid in mobility. We will discuss and instruct patients in the use of a variety of products, such as vaginal/rectal dilators and/or pelvic wands to assist in transitioning into a home exercise program.
Remember, sex does not have to be painful.
If you have any questions or have been experiencing painful intercourse, send us a message.
💛 Renew Health Team
Renew Health is committed to changing the way that pelvic health is being viewed and delivered. Together, we can do better.
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