Dyspareunia – the big medical term for painful sex. The most dreaded third wheel out there and a sure fire way to put a damper on your Valentine’s Day plans with your significant other. Although pain with intercourse is very common among women, that does not mean it is normal, and should definitely not be overlooked as ‘no big deal.’ It doesn’t matter if it is your first time, every time, your 39th time, during pregnancy, post-partum, or anywhere in between – painful sex is something none of us want or should have to encounter, even though 60% of women report painful sex at some point in their lives.
Intercourse with your partner should be an intimate, enjoyable experience for both of you. Most importantly, it should be PAIN FREE. Much of society (women especially) are often under the assumption that sometimes it’s okay to have pain with sex and we should just suck it up. Right? Wrong!
Dyspareunia can be caused by many and multiple factors: pelvic floor dysfunction (tearing, endometriosis, increased tone through pelvic floor muscles, chronic pelvic pain, etc), childbirth, hormonal changes, stress/anxiety, other mental health conditions – the list goes on. Because of all the different causes of dyspareunia, there is no blanket treatment that is used to fix every individual and all types. The great news is that if you suffer from pain with intercourse, there are specialists out there who can help you!
Pelvic health physical therapists specialize in, you guessed it, all things pelvis!
We are trained in diagnosing and treating pelvic health problems ranging from dyspareunia to incontinence to tail bone pain – and everything in between. Pelvic health physical therapists will work together with you to set up a proper plan for treatment and talk you through many tips and techniques that may help decrease your pain. Most importantly, you will get hope that this issue is not weird and it will resolve with help!
While you are waiting to see a pelvic health PT, some tips you can try in the meantime are:
- Increase foreplay – Foreplay is a normal part of the sexual response system but wants/needs vary from person to person. Extending the amount of foreplay time or practicing different styles is not only good sex hygiene, but also fun!
- Lube – Lube does NOT mean there is something wrong with you – that cannot be stressed enough. Water based lube is much more sensitive to your body versus gel based, so take that into account when perusing the shelves.
- Relaxation/meditation – Painful sex can lead us into a downward spiral way of thinking – “Well I know it hurts so I’m already tense and then it’s bad, unsuccessful, and my partner gets upset.” Sound familiar? If you’re thinking about getting lucky tonight, take some extra time to relax your mind and body – read a good book, perform guided meditation, perform gentle stretching – whatever calms you down. If you go in with an open, relaxed mind, you’re starting off on a better note!
- Be open and honest with your partner – We’ve heard it a million times – communication is key to a long lasting relationship. As women, we all feel most connected with our partners when we are on the same page emotionally and have good communication. This should not be any different. Make sure you discuss what feels good, what doesn’t and ways your partner can help.
Call the pelvic health experts at Apex Physical Therapy to help you get back to your best self!