Painful sex can be a real passion killer. It’s an issue that impacts around 1 in10 women and yet many suffer in silence. Vaginal dryness is one of the most common causes of painful intercourse - and it’s something we need to talk about more. Sex should be something that we enjoy, not avoid - so here’s our guide to dealing with painful intercourse.
PAIN DURING SEX
To get our heads around how vaginal dryness causes painful sex, we need to talk about lubricant. Now, you can of course buy lubricants in the store (and they can be very helpful in dealing with painful sex) but did you know our body naturally produces lubricant when we are aroused? Two glands near the entrance of your vagina secretes cervical mucus before and during sex - and they do that for a reason. The added moisture results in less friction with the sensitive skin on your vaginal walls - which means less pain and more pleasure.
However, if you are dealing with vagina dryness, it’s likely that your natural lubrication isn’t what you’d expect it to be. This can lead to irritation, soreness and pain during and after sex. Your lubrication levels are often tied to your estrogen levels, so it’s very common during menopause, whilst breastfeeding or when taking hormonal contraception or cancer treatment. However, painful sex can impact anyone of any age and the physical side effects are only one side of the story.
HOW TO DEAL WITH EMOTIONS THAT SURFACE
Anything that impacts our sex life can affect our confidence, self-esteem and general wellbeing. Whatever our stage of life, we want to feel empowered and in control of our sexuality, so it can be frustrating when your head is in the moment but your body is not playing ball. You might feel embarrassed, ashamed or even resentful of your body - and that lack of self-love will only make confidence issues worse. When you start to connect sex with pain, you will withdraw from your sexual self more and more - which can be heartbreaking, especially if you are in a transitional stage of life - such as menopause or becoming a mother.
Intimacy is also a key component of a healthy relationship, so when you find yourself avoiding sex, it can lead to issues with your partner. They might feel like you’re not attracted to them anymore or that you have doubts about your relationship - but talking to them openly can help ease those fears.
HOW TO TALK TO A PARTNER ABOUT IT
The shame around vaginal dryness (or anything to do with our vaginas!) can make it hard for us to discuss it or ask for help. But the truth is, there is nothing to be embarrassed about and sharing your story with your partner could help you both feel better.
It’s important to first explain to your partner how your issues with vaginal dryness are making you feel. You might find this hard to speak about at first, but they will be there to support you. Honestly will also make the bond you have to grow even stronger - which is only going to be a good thing for your intimacy levels!
You can also explain to them that the reason you are finding sex less enjoyable is because of this condition - not because of them. Not only will this boost their confidence, but will also open the door for you to find ways to make sex less painful and more pleasurable (and maybe even try some new things along the way!)
If you’re finding penetrative sex too painful at the moment, this could be a chance to experiment with other forms of intimacy and foreplay. This can not only be a lot of fun, but you might even find that certain things help kick your natural lubrication into action - and makes sex pleasurable again! You could also consider using an additional lubricant, but try to go for something natural and with optimized osmolality, else they could dry you out even more. The most important thing is to push yourself into anything. If you’re trying to have sex when your vagina is struggling with dryness, it could not only lead to pain - but also damage to your vaginal wall. Take it slow, and work together with your partner to work your way back to sexual confidence and enjoyment.
HOW TO DEAL WITH VAGINAL DRYNESS
Of course, serious cases of vaginal dryness can’t be solved with foreplay alone. There could be bigger issues at play that are affecting all areas of your life - not only the sexual part. It’s worth talking to your healthcare provider about your concerns and they may be able to recommend treatment or lifestyle changes that could help reduce your vaginal dryness.
There are also products available that can help keep your V happy, healthy and hydrated. Vagivital’s Active Gel offers a way to directly improve the moisture of your vagina. You start by applying one dose a day for 30 days and then use it only as needed. For those looking for a way to gently refresh, hydrate and restore the pH balance of the vagina, Vagivital Moisturizing Cleanser can help. Using products that support your vaginal health can improve your wellbeing, confidence and sex life (did we mention that 44% of women who use Vagivital become more sexually active?!) so give it a try, your V will thank you later…