Browsing on e2 as usual, I found the node when sex hurts (men) and was surprised not to find softlinks to: when sex hurts (women). So here you have it.

Standard disclaimers apply: I am not a doctor, YMMV, etc. This node is based partly on personal experience and partly on research. Node what you know and node what you don't know.

The first time for women tends to be painful, but in this as in everything, YMMV. Other noders have discussed losing their virginity. However, for some women sex continues to be painful after the first time. Obviously this is a pain (no pun intended), since sex can and should be a wonderful, enjoyable thing, and fun too.

Possible reasons for painful sex:

Medical reasons for painful sex include: pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), endometriosis, infections such as thrush or others. I am not a doctor, but if sex is has always been painful, or did not use to be painful and has become so, go see a doctor. Yes, this is embarrassing. Yes, I have done this myself. Bear in mind doctors are trained to deal with this sort of thing sensitively. If you are uncomfortable discussing this with a male doctor, ask to see a female doctor.

Your sexual health is important! Some of these diseases (endometriosis, PID) are serious and if untreated can lead to infertility.

Having said all of that, sometimes there is no apparent reason for sex to hurt. This is a real bummer. Doctors have usefully coined the term pelvic pain syndrome (does exactly what it says on the packet!) to describe this.

If this is your case, bear in mind the following:

-If you are not fully aroused, sex may be painful. Arousal in females consists of a series of physical changes. While these are less obvious than in males, they serve a purpose. Blood will also head south to the genitals. If you ever feel so inclined, use a mirror to look at yourself while aroused: the labia will often become redder. Most importantly, arousal in a woman means lubrication. And we all know lubrication is the cornerstone of good sex. QED, if you are not aroused, and therefore not lubricated, the friction of sex may hurt.

-Following from the previous point: lubrication varies from woman to woman, and within a woman. You may find at certain times in your cycle you are well-lubricated, and at others you are dry. Quite likely you will be naturally more lubricated shortly before your period, when you are ovulating. This makes sense!

There is no such thing as normal. Normal is just a setting on a washing machine. Some women simply do not produce enough natural lubrication for them to enjoy sex. Do not feel bad. This is not your fault. This is why artificial lubricants are sold. I will stop on lubrication now because others have noded at great length about this.

Psychological reasons. Sex is not just about organs. Indeed, your biggest sex organ is your brain. Your state of mind is directly linked to your arousal and your attittude to sex. If you are stressed out, or do not fully trust your lover, you may not become fully aroused, leading to the lack-of-lubrication problem. Doubly and triply so of course, if you have been the victim of rape,or sexual abuse. If this is an occasional thing, do not worry - just try to relax more next time! If however you have frequent or long-standing problems with painful sex, and your doctor can find no reason, it may be there is no reason (see pelvic pain syndrome). Or there may be psychological issues. You may have vaginismus

Vaginismus is the name for the phenomenon whereby the muscles in the vagina contract. alex.tan notes that it prevents the entrace of the penis. Sometimes it doesn't go so far - the muscles do not contract enough to completely exclude the possibility of sex, but sex is very painful. Vaginismus often has psychological causes. It can be the legacy of sexual abuse, but it can also be simply the result of a few bad sexual experiences. For example: boy meets girl. Boy likes girl. Boy and girl want to have sex. Boy and girl were both virgins, and much fumbling ensues. Sex is painful for the girl the first time, but they assume this is normal and try again. Sex is painful for the girl the second time too. Now a vicious circle can be created. The girl wants to have sex, but every time she does, it hurts. Therefore, every time she is about to attempt sex, she tenses up. Voila vaginismus.

I am not trying to be flippant. As I said above, I have experienced this myself. If you think this is your case, try seeing a counsellor. It can help. The counsellor may ask your boyfriend/SO to come along too. This helps. Do not be embarrassed!

Sources: http://embarrassingproblems.co.uk/sexpain.htm and my own experiences.

I plan to add more (medical detail etc..) stuff to this node when I have time (i.e. when I don't have a masters thesis due in in less than a week!

Unless of course it gets nuked first. It is my first write-up :)

After almost five years of lurking!

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