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What To Do If You Find Sex Painful

What To Do If You Find Sex Painful - a blog by The Cowgirl

This article about painful sex is written by sex journalist and expert, Gabrielle Kassel, for The Cowgirl.

Repeat after me: The Cowgirl is a pleasure product that can be enjoyed by anyone.

Indeed, that means people of any gender, sexuality, and genital make-up can enjoy the machine, but for this article we’re not talking about that. Here, we’re talking about how to enjoy the sex machine if you’ve ever found sex painful.

Below, six tips that will help you get the most pleasure out of your sexperiences with The Cowgirl or The Unicorn—even if sex has historically been painful for you.

Why Does Sex Hurt?

There are many more reasons why sex might be painful than there are ways to use The Cowgirl for pleasurable sex.

These range from undiagnosed infection and underlying conditions, to emotional or physical trauma and generalized stress. But even things like relationship dissatisfaction and insufficient pre-play can cause pain during or after penetration.

As many as 75% of people with vulvas will experience pain during sex at some point in their life. (Of those, however, under 8% report pain that is persistent and lasts longer than 6 months).

But here’s the thing: While pain during sex may be common, it’s not normal. Pain is the body’s way of signaling to a person that something is not right. If you haven’t yet talked to your healthcare provider about the pain you’re experiencing, this is your sign to do so.

Dyspareunia and Painful Sex

From Wikipedia:

Dyspareunia is painful sexual intercourse due to medical or psychological causes.

The term dyspareunia covers both female dyspareunia and male dyspareunia, but many discussions that use the term without further specification concern the female type, which is more common than the male type. Understanding the duration, location, and nature of the pain is important in identifying the causes of the pain.”

Different Types of Dyspareunia

Dyspareunia in people who have vulvas

Sex isn’t supposed to be painful, and a lack of lubrication whether natural or synthetic can contribute to pain. Outside of that, there is a myriad of reasons why you could be experiencing painful sex.

Some causes of dyspareunia include physical conditions like vaginal atrophy where the vaginal walls become thin, endometriosis where the tissue lining grows outside the uterus, or fibroids on the uterus. Pain during sex can also be the result of a yeast infection or a sexually transmitted infection. Sometimes the pain is psychological. In some cases, like vaginismus, fear or prior trauma can impact a person enough to cause spasms that make intercourse painful.

Wikipedia: In females, the pain can primarily be on the external surface of the genitalia, or deeper in the pelvis upon deep pressure against the cervix. Medically, dyspareunia is a pelvic floor dysfunction and is frequently underdiagnosed. It can affect a small portion of the vulva or vagina or be felt all over the surface.

Dyspareunia in people who have penises

Pain in people who have penises presents a little differently from the way it does in people with uteri. The pain is typically felt in the testicles or the tip of the penis and typically shows up after ejaculation.

This pain can be the result of an STI like gonorrhea, or a physical condition like Peyronie’s disease where scar tissue can form a curvature. Dyspareunia can also be the result of a physical irregularity like a short frenulum or too-tight foreskin. For some, pain after sex is because of priapism.

It should be noted that a condition like interstitial cystitis is a condition that can affect anyone with a bladder, and while often mistaken for a bladder infection, it is not.

Treatment Options for Painful Sex

The cure or treatment(s) for all of these underlying causes are different. For an infection like gonorrhea, for example, treatment may simply be prescription antibiotics, while for muscular trauma the treatment may entail a combination of pelvic floor therapy, stress-reduction practices, and emotional therapy.

Generally speaking, if you’re experiencing painful sex your first step should be your OB/GYN. They’ll be able to run some tests to rule out infections, such as STIs as well as yeast infections and UTIs, which are also known to lead to painful sex when left untreated. If those come back negative, your provider may suggest a pelvic exam to look for cysts, signs of scarring, unusual bumps, or an ultrasound.

If they can’t find anything or notice that the issue is muscular, they’ll likely suggest you work with a pelvic floor therapist. A pelvic floor PT is more adept at providing care for folks with underlying pelvic floor issues, such as under or over-reactive pelvic floor muscles.

Many people who experience pain during sex also choose to work with a mental health care professional.

A sex therapist, for example, can be useful for anyone who has become afraid of sex, or anyone who grew up with sex-negative messaging. While a trauma-informed therapist can be useful for anyone who started experiencing painful sex following an attack.

If you would like to treat your symptoms at home, then you may want to consider the following:

Re-define what sex means

Sadly, most of us were taught that sex is one thing and one thing only: A penis thrusting inside a vagina. And sure, P-in-V intercourse is one form of sex, but sex can be so much more than that.

So, what can sex be, exactly? Any meaningful pursuit of pleasure.

That means sex can encompass anything from bumping and humping, kissing and scissoring, to penetrating and pegging, and so much more. Hell, if showering feels like sex to you, even that can qualify!

By expanding your definition of sex, you give yourself the freedom to find sexual enjoyment in types of play usually not seen as the whole kit-and-kaboodle. For people who specifically find penetration painful, elevating non-penetrative types of play can be especially freeing.

Here are some ways you might help your partner expand the definition of sex:

  • What are your favorite non-penetrative sex acts?
  • Do you remember the time we did X? That felt like sex to me.
  • Baby, how would you feel about taking penetrative play off the table for a week? I think it might be fun for us to explore what sex could look like without that.
  • Penetration has been feeling painful for me, but I’d still love to be sexual with you. I’d love to make a list of some of our favorite non-penetrative sex acts together on our next date night.

Lather on lubricant

Lather on Lubricant

One of the most common reasons people find penetrative play painful? Insufficient lubrication!

To be clear: Insufficient lubrication is NOT synonymous with insufficient arousal. While there can be a connection between lubrication levels and arousal, low lubrication levels don’t necessarily point toward a low interest in sex, and high lubrication levels don’t necessarily point to a high interest in sex.

A number of things, including hydration levels, overall health status, stress levels, exercise routine (or lack thereof), and alcohol and drug, all impact how much the body is able to self-lubricate.

If your natural lubrication levels are not sufficient enough to support the slide-and-glide that feels so good during penetrative play, add some store-bought lubricant in! And honestly, more than you think you need. Trust, a store-bought lubricant can make any internal or external manual or genital sex position feel better.

But to be very clear: Squirting on some store-bought lubricant is not a substitute for pre-play. Both are essential for making sexy time feel good.

Use pleasure products!

Again, certain kinds of sex may be painful. But that doesn’t mean all kinds of sex will be!

Leaning on different kinds of pleasure products can help you find new kinds of sex and sensations that feel good, not uncomfortable.

For instance, just because vulvar stimulation is painful, doesn’t mean anal stimulation with a toy like Lone Ranger Cowgirl Attachment penetrative attachment, or a butt plug will be.

Likewise, just because deep vaginal penetration is uncomfortable, doesn’t mean that external vulvar stimulation with Mystical Waterfall Cowgirl Attachment or wand vibrator will be.

With handcrafted attention to comfort and detail, the Cowgirl is a fully customizable modern sex machine crafted for ergonomic support and pleasure.

Your move: Experiment with pleasure products on erogenous zones that bring you the most pleasure.

You are worthy of pleasure

Let the record show that sex may have been painful for you before, but that does not mean that it is always going to be painful. Nor does it mean that you are somehow less deserving of pleasurable sex.

Whether you’ve had painful sex once or one hundred times, it can be easy to internalize the fact that you’ve been having painful sex and come to some understanding that you deserve the pain. Repeat after me: This is *not* true.

All people deserve to have the kind of sex that feels most pleasurable to them.

If you find yourself having a hard time believing this, try repeating one of the below affirmations to yourself three times in the mirror each morning:

  • I am worthy and deserving of pleasure, in all of its forms.
  • My body is a vessel for pleasure.
  • Pleasure is a gift that I deserve to receive.