Painful Sex and Intercourse Pain Causes
Painful sex can be an extremely worrying, frustrating, and baffling experience; especially if it persists after ruling out go-to medical explanations. Of course pleasurable intercourse requires adequate lubrication. Sufficient foreplay and using plenty of water-based lubricants like Slippery Stuff should cover that ground. But if painful sex continues, be evaluated by a women’s health doctor, OBGYN, or specialist.
Typical evaluations will check for vaginal infections, STDs, and any immediately noticeable problems or injuries to the vagina, uterus, or ovaries. If necessary, medical intervention will be prescribed by the doctor. However, if painful sex continues despite recurring treatment for these issues, insist on finding someone who can make sense of your pain. “Everything we’ve looked at is normal” and “We don’t see any reason for your pain” are not acceptable answers.
80% of the time, triggers for pain in the pelvic region come from bladder and/or bowel function and from gynecological factors alone only 20% of the time. So understand conditions like Interstitial Cystitis (IC or Painful Bladder Syndrome) and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
Consider pelvic endometriosis but remember that endometriosis is associated with monthly cyclical pain, not pain that is intermittent and all month long.
Vestibulitis (more accurately Vulvar Vestibulodynia) is the number one cause of vaginal entrance pain in premenopausal women.
Musculoskeletal, ligamental, and nerve related factors can also be heavy influencers in painful sex. Yet they are often overlooked as primary causes. Hypertonic Pelvic Floor Dysfunction (pelvic floor muscles that are clenched or in spasm) and Pudendal Neuralgia are other conditions to be familiar with. See a women’s health physical therapist as they are well equipped in structural matters of the pelvis and determining how this may be influencing your pain.
There are many reasons or “triggers” in the pelvis for persistent pain. Often, these triggers are interrelated; meaning more than one is present. Seek the support of a counselor or sexual health therapist along the way. Painful sex isn’t just an individual problem, it is a relational problem that affects us at the core of our most intimate relationships due to painful sex and intercourse.
If you're one of millions of women suffering from painful sexual intercourse, pain after sex, vaginal pain or a myriad of other persistent, unpleasant sensations in the pelvic region: we're offering a way for you to receive a free guide for healing the pain 'down there'.
For a limited time [September 15, 2015 - December 15, 2015] refer any health care provider (PT, Doctor, NP, Nutritionist, etc.) to register for our Health Care Provider Bulk Discount Page and we'll send you the full digital download for free! No purchase is necessary from the health care provider you refer. So spread the word and help yourself, help your healthcare providers, and help your health care providers help others!
Health Care Providers:
If you're a health care provider working in any area of women's health and you come across patients looking for help for painful intercourse, consider offering them a tangible, on the spot resource. Make the DVD Healing the Pain Down There: A Guide for Females with Persistent Genital & Pelvic Pain available for purchase in your office or clinic. Just register for our Health Care Provider Bulk Discount Page then order 3 or more DVDs at the discounted price of $50 a piece and resell the DVDs at your practice for at least the retail list price of $64.95. You/Your Practice keeps the difference. Orders of 10 or more DVDs qualify for free shipping, even internationally.
If you have questions please contact us!
Laura Ricci is a licensed doctor of physical therapy specializing in Women's Health and Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation, as well as a certified Women's Health Nutrition Coach (WHNC) through the Integrative Women's Health Institute (IWHI).
Join Laura online as she discusses her personal experience with post-surgical pain and recovery on Friday September 18th as part of The Healing Pain Summit. Registration is free! Laura will talk about her Physical Therapist's Guide for Healing from Surgery and include tips for optimizing surgical healing.
The free online summit launches September 14th so take advantage of other great presenters and topics and register for free now.
Properly functioning, released, and relaxed psoas muscles are crucial in the process of healing the pain "down there" and maintaining health and functionality in the pelvis. See the previous blog post for a refresher. So how do we achieve (for lack of a better term, sorry yoga instructors!) released and relaxed psoas muscles for ourselves?
Here are a few starting points:
1. Learn about the psoas from the point of view of Liz Koch at coreawareness.com. She has dedicated more than 30 years to this muscle. You may enjoy her Yoga Journal article here or if you learn better via video/audio check out her video segments. What I've gleaned from Liz so far is that our psoas muscles are primal muscles. So they are the "messengers" of the nervous system, holding trauma and emotion. As such, releasing the psoas should be a tender and gentle process, as she teaches through her articles, books, and videos.
2. Consult a Women's Health Physical Therapist. They can evaluate for this and other areas of muscle tension that may be contributing to painful sexual intercourse one on one. Manual "trigger point release" of muscular tension can prove immediately relieving. If you find you identify with Liz Koch's view of the psoas, this myofascial release technique on the psoas in particular may be controversial. You'll need to balance the approaches for yourself.
3. Learn safe and gentle stretches for the psoas muscle. Find stretches from sources you trust online or take a yoga class. Your Physical Therapist can also teach you stretches. We teach you how to stretch the psoas and other hip musculature in our DVD guide: Healing the Pain 'Down There'.
4. Take care of yourself. You can't expect your psoas to be happy and healthy if you treat yourself poorly. Maintain good posture and sit on your sits bones. Breathe from your belly and not from your chest, allowing your pelvic floor and core muscles to expand and relax as you breathe in. Eat natural, whole, nutrient rich foods. Drink plenty of water. Move and play. Keep your stress under control: practice guided meditation, see a therapist or spiritual advisor if you need support coping with painful or traumatic events or circumstances (past or present), be nice to yourself and treat yourself to cuddles with a furry friend, a hot bath, a massage, a cup of tea.
Stephanie Yeager: Passionate about spreading the word of hope and healing for those like her, influencing a paradigm shift in the medical community toward greater understanding of chronic pelvic pain disorders, and prevention initiatives that may protect young women before onset can occur.