We usually don’t talk about sex. Even if we do, we only talk about how good it is. But sometimes, it is not good, sometimes it is painful. Is there a solution for painful sex too? The last article of our four-part series answers this question.
Experts divide sexual dysfunctions into four groups: sexual desire disorder, sexual arousal disorder, orgasmic disorder, and sexual pain disorders. Sexuality is very unique, very personal and private where a lot of things can fit into the limits of normality. Therefore failure is considered as an experience resulting in failure for a certain person, too much is considered what a certain person finds too much and dysfunction is considered anything that causes suffering to the person. However, feeling pain during sex is clearly a bad sign, therefore this problem definitely needs to be addressed.
However dyspareunia, or painful intercourse is quite rare, it can affect both men and women. The genitals may be painful during sexual intercourse. In most cases dyspareunia has physical causes. In men such causes are prostatitis or urinary tract infection. In women, pain can be caused by endometriosis (displaced endometrial tissue, a tissue grown outside the uterus), percussion of the pelvis and any other disorders that cause vaginal dryness. In case of those women who have already given birth, injuries acquired during childbirth can also have a role in the development of pain such as lesions of the vagina, cervix, uterus, or the wound of episiotomy. In case of organic causes visit your urologist or gynecologist with your complaints.
Symptoms can be caused by psychological factors too. Many reasons may be in the background such as prudish upbringing, past memory of sexual violence or painful first intercourse. Of course, problems with the present relationship or communication problems may also be a reason. Psychotherapy can be a great help in revealing psychological causes which may include imaginary techniques and sexual homework too.
According to statistics, vaginismus or painful spasmodic contraction of the vagina affects 1% of all women. Vaginismus (or vaginism) is presumed to be the result of an involuntary vaginal muscle spasm, which makes any kind of vaginal penetration—including sexual intercourse—painful or impossible. In some cases other pelvic muscle groups are associated with the spasm as well such as the lower abdomen, thighs and buttocks muscles. Vaginal spasm can be caused by vaginitis (inflammation of the vagina), strong hymen, previous surgical scars or other physical factors.
But in most cases psychological reasons and learned reaction stand in the background of vaginismus. For example if the first intercourse was painful the entrenched negative answer will be activated in the next sexual situation. It is basically the vagina`s `self- defense reaction` not allowing the penis in and avoiding to experience the negative feelings again. There can be other reasons too: past sexual violence, guilt due to sexual life, fear of unwanted pregnancy, sexual diseases, or pain. Current problems, conflicts in the relationship, lack of communication can also activate vaginismus.
The (male) partner has a great responsibility: understanding, patience and making sure the female partner is in the proper state of excitement is essential. Sex therapist can help you find the common way by listening and analyzing your experiences with your partner and by giving advices and homework. For women suffering from vaginismus is strongly advised to explore the psychological causes during individual therapy sessions so that they can start to live a free and joyful sex life.
Frank Gillespie has a Master's Degree in Counseling from LaSalle University in Philadelphia. He is a nationally Certified Counselor (NCC). He has provided therapy for over 23 years. During his career, he has helped more than 10,000 people move past their obstacles towards reaching their potential and fulfillment in their lives. He practices Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with a warm and nurturing approach. In addition to being a therapist, Frank has been an adjunct college professor teaching social work, a clinical consultant, a clinical director, and a seminar speaker. Frank has recently retired from his full time practice to focus on a part time online practice. He is married. He enjoys listening to music, watching sports, power walking, swimming, reading and writing.