What causes pain with sex?
That’s what every woman whose dreading the end of date night wants to know.
According to a FAQ sheet for patients by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), pain during sex can be caused by:
- Gynecologic problems like ovarian cysts or endometriosis, or
- Sexual response problems like lack of desire or lack of arousal
True, these problems could cause pain with sex, but cysts and endometriosis are also likely to cause pain all the time, or at least at others times too, not just during sex. And most women who lack desire or arousal are aware of those issues. Like pain with sex, they are symptoms of other issues. There are many ways to work on desire and arousal…but that’s not the focus of this post.
For this blog post, I’m going to assume that you and your OB/GYN have already:
1. determined that you don’t have a gynecological or sexual response problem causing your pain
2. treated your gynecologic or sexual response problem and you still have pain, or
3. found that you have a condition (like endometriosis) that is managed, not “cured,” and there are other treatments that can significantly reduce your pain – like physical therapy!
Where do you turn next to look for answers? This is the exact moment that I wish women were referred to me to talk about pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD).
If you initially had pain caused by a gynecologic problem like infection, cysts, or hormonal changes, that pain may have caused you to tighten your pelvic floor muscles (and keep them that way). Then, after the initial problem is treated and resolved, the pain is still there because of the PFD that was created when the pain started.
Pelvic pain (including during sex) causes you to tighten your pelvic floor muscles.
This happens often because our initial reaction to pain is to tighten the muscles around the painful area. Sometimes we adjust to this tightened position and this becomes our “new normal.” Because most women have been holding that muscle tension for so long, and it happens gradually over time, they aren’t aware that the muscles are being held so tightly.
Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy (and more!) to solve pain with sex.
This is where a combination of pelvic floor physical therapy techniques, relaxation exercises and mindset shifts can work wonders. These are some of the skills that I want to share with women who have pain with sex. I’ve been there too! (about me)
Having a set of skills that I could do by myself or teach my partner saved me!
I want to teach you (and your partner, if willing!) all the skills you need, so you can have pain-free sex too.