Typically speaking, vaginal penetration is not a painful activity. Yet sometimes, discomfort or pain can occur while having sex. There are a number of underlying issues that could irritate this sensitive area of the female body. Let’s talk about the causes of female pain during sex and how pain during sex can relate to sexually transmitted diseases.
Vaginal infections can cause pain during sex. Genital warts, chlamydia, herpes, gonorrhea, trich, and syphilis are all STDs that can show little to no symptoms for a long time. If these STDs are left untreated long enough they can make sex uncomfortable and painful.
Genital warts are common and can results from various types of HPV. These warts are typically either skin-colored or white bumps that appear on or around the vagina. They aren’t dangerous but that can cause discomfort. Sex may irritate these warts therefore cause pain.
HPV is the #1 most common STD and can commonly cause genital warts leading to pain or irritation during sex. If you are a woman 30 years of age or older, you should consider getting tested for HPV. There are about 150 different strains or types of the HPV virus.
Gonorrhea, or the clap, is a bacterial disease spread through sexual contact. Symptoms associated with gonorrhea can include discomfort when peeing, painful bowel movements, discolored discharge, spotting, and pain during sex. Pain during sex associated with gonorrhea can be a sign that the gonorrhea infection has progressed into Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). Luckily, with the help of antibiotics gonorrhea can be cured and these painful symptoms can be prevented.
Chlamydia has similar symptoms to gonorrhea and the two are often confused if proper testing is not done. If left untreated, chlamydia can cause serious damage to a woman’s reproductive system. This STD can spread from the cervix to the fallopian tubes which can cause pain or bleeding during sex.
Herpes can cause sores to develop inside the vagina. These appear similar to cold sores that occur on the lips and around the mouth during an oral herpes outbreak. Herpes sores on the vagina can cause tremendous pain and burn while urinating. Since herpes can affect the cervix, it can cause cervicitis if the ulcers get infected. This can result in heavy pain during sex.
Trichomoniasis, also known as trich, most commonly infects the lower genital tract in females. Trich can cause burning, redness, soreness, itching, and pain during intercourse.
Your health is important. Don’t wait to get tested. If you are experiencing female pain during sex it could be a sign of a more serious problem or STD. myLAB Box offers a variety of STD testing kits you can take in the privacy of your own home.
Various birth control foams, creams, or jellies can cause irritation in the vagina. Irritation that some females experience when using these products can be a reaction to the spermicide, Nonoxynol-9. If this is a concern for you, consider different using birth control methods.
Some people can have a sensitivity to latex condoms, diaphragms, and gloves. If you have a latex sensitivity, consider polyurethane or female condoms.
Douches, scented tampons, female deodorants, and feminine hygiene products can also irritate the vagina as well as body washes, soaps, laundry detergents, and more. If this is a concern avoid using fragranced products.
Sexual intercourse or penetration for the first time.
The first few times you have intercourse you may have a small amount of pain during penetration. Some bleeding or no bleeding at all are both totally normal. Typically pain associated with intercourse for the first time is temporary and will subside.
For most women, the vaginal walls response to arousal is producing natural lubricant, liquid that moistens the vagina, making penetration easier. In some cases the body does not produce enough lubricant which can happen for a few different reasons.
Insufficient lubrication can be caused by low levels of estrogen, which will make the vaginal tissue more fragile, in turn causing less lubricating liquid. Some women experience this during perimenopause, other women, regardless of age, simply produce less lubricant naturally.
Tightness in Vaginal Entrance
In some sexual situations, size does matter. As with men, a woman’s body size and mass is not related to the size or her vagina.
Women’s difficulty with penetration can sometimes be attributed to vaginismus. Vaginismus is the involuntary tightening of the vaginal muscles, a spasm of the outer vagina during penetration.
Some Tips To Stay Healthy
Vaginal health is extremely important and if you experience abnormal vaginal pain it may be a sign of a serious health problem. myLAB Box offers a few different testing kits specifically for women. Take the first step in your health and test, at home and discreetly.
KR Mitchell, R Geary, CA Graham, J Datta, K Wellings, P Sonnenberg, N Field, D Nunns, J Bancroft, KG Jones, AM Johnson, CH Mercer. (2017). Painful sex (dyspareunia) in women: prevalence and associated factors in a British population probability survey. General gynaecology.
- James Sorensen, Katherine E Bautista, Georgine Lamvu, and Jessica Feranec. (2018). Evaluation and Treatment of Female Sexual Pain: A Clinical Review. Cureus.
- Johanna Thomtén, Steven J Linton. (2013). A Psychological View of Sexual Pain among Women: Applying the Fear-Avoidance Model. Women’s Health.
- Marta Meana. (2009). Painful Intercourse: Dyspareunia and Vaginismus. Journal of Family Psychotherapy.