Updated: Jan 23
It is vital to remember that sex is not pleasurable for everyone. In fact, some people feel pain during sex. This is much more prevalent in females. Around 75% of females report experiencing pain during sex at some point during their lives. Around 10-20% females in the United States experience regular sexual pain, or dyspareunia. The part of the brain that interprets pleasure also interprets pain.
Some common reasons for sexual pain in females include:
* Vulvodynia, a chronic condition that causes itching, as well as burning pain during and after sex.
* Vaginal infections such as yeast infections.
* Muscle injuries or dysfunction, especially pelvic floor injuries after childbirth.
* Hormonal changes, which may cause vaginal dryness and pain.
Males can also experience pain during sex. Some common causes include:
* Structural abnormalities in the penis, such as phimosis
* Problems with the prostate, such as prostatitis.
People who identify as asexual may not desire sex or experience pleasure from it. People who identify as demi sexual may only experience sexual pleasure in limited contexts, such as when they feel in love with a partner.
Some other factors that can affect sexual pleasure across all genders and sexual orientations include:
* Insufficient lubrication, which can cause sex to be painful
* A history of trauma or abuse, which can make sex feel threatening or painful
* Lack of arousal
* Boredom with sex or one’s partner
* Sexual interactions that do not conform to a person’s specific sexual desires or interests.
See a doctor about sexual pain or displeasure if the pain persists over time or gets worse or management strategies, pain occurs with other symptoms, such as pain when urinating, unusual vaginal bleeding or pain following an injury, childbirth or a medical procedure.
Some people, especially females, report that doctors dismiss sexual pain or tell them that it is all in their heads. People who do not get sensitive, responsive care from a healthcare provider should switch providers or seek a second opinion.
Sex does not have to hurt, and there is almost always a solution. A knowledgeable and compassionate provider should be committed to diagnosing and treating the issue.