A study earlier this year suggested that one out of 10 women experience pain during sexual intercourse, and revealed that of the 7 000 women surveyed, those between age 16 and 24 and those older than 50 that experience this sort of pain don’t talk to their partners, friends or gynaes about it.
In an interview with Radio 702, sexologist Dr Eve said that women stay silent about the issue because they feel shameful about experiencing pain or they don’t want to bruise their partner’s ego. She adds that the 16 to 24 age group in particular suffer during intercourse because they believe that painful penetration is the norm.
In an article in Essence magazine, Dr Jessica Shepherd says there’s a difference between pain being a consequence of rough sex and it being the result of something that may be wrong. She says it’s worth being mindful of how often the pain is experienced and the frequency of it.
Dr Shepherd says that if a woman experiences pain every time she has sex or that changing positions doesn’t help, then it’s more likely that something is wrong.
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According to Dr Eve, the reasons for painful intercourse are complex and varied. The most common causes include:
- Sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia and herpes
- Endometriosis, which causes pelvic inflammation. The tissues deep inside become inflamed and the pressure of intercourse causes pain.
- Previous traumatic sexual experiences
- Fibroids, which can push on the pelvis and cause pain during sex
- Oral contraceptives – research shows that women who are on contraceptives have a higher risk of experiencing painful sex
- Insufficient vaginal lubrication – a previous study showed a strong link between painful sex and vaginal dryness
On her website, Dr Eve offers the following advice to women who experience pain during sex:
- Consult a gynaecologist or health practitioner about any sexual pain or discomfort.
- Until a woman has found her “sexual voice”, she should make lubricant her best friend.
- Moisturisers can be inserted vaginally to ensure lubrication.
- See a therapist to work out relationship issues that may be causing pain during sex.