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Guest Blogger: Five Tips to Relieve Sexual Pain

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Guest Blogger: Five Tips to Relieve Sexual Pain

By Susan Bilheimer

Five Tips to Relieve Sexual Pain

Sex hurts. That’s the bottom line for millions of women. Burning, stinging, raw, stabbing and itching are just a few of the words women use to describe the agony they experience not just during sex, but at work or even when performing everyday activities. Sexual pain syndrome is a devastating condition that can wreck self-esteem, destroy relationships and ruin your quality of life.

According to the International Pelvic Pain Society, over nine million U.S. women between 18 and 50 suffer from chronic pelvic pain at some point in their lives. An estimated 90 percent of those women also experience sexual pain.

You may be surprised to learn that it’s not just problems within the vagina and vulva that are at the heart of your distress. Irritable bowel, fibromyalgia, a constant urge to urinate (interstitial cystitis), arthritis, and many more chronic pain conditions in other parts of your body can all contribute to the debilitating and depressing symptoms you experience.

There are simple, natural methods as well as medications and medical treatments that knowledgeable doctors, physical therapists, and other health care providers are increasingly integrating into their practices with great success.

Following are five tips that you can implement today that may make a difference in your level of pain (but remember, you must always see your healthcare provider to rule out acute diseases, infections or other serious conditions):

1. Use unscented laundry and personal care products. Perfumed menstrual pads, laundry detergent, fabric softener, even scented dryer sheets, can inflame the genital area. Most products have an unscented version, including store brands.

2. Realize that tight clothing and pantyhose cause irritation. Many women experience vaginal burning just from wearing fitted jeans! Pantyhose can definitely trap bacteria and tightly press on your genitals. Thigh highs or stockings with a garter belt prevent the problem and can be alluring as well.

3. Test out a low-acid diet. Based on the theory that acidity increases the burning of urine and causes other conditions to flare up (such as irritable bowel, interstitial cystitis and vaginal/vulvar pain), women with sexual pain are strongly encouraged to try a low-acid diet. For instance, many caffeinated products such as coffee, tea and numerous sodas are highly acidic and can be extremely irritating to bladder and genital tissues.

4. Drink a lot of water. Remember that plain old water can be your best friend. It’s one of the kindest things that you can do for your body overall. Water further dilutes the acid concentration in your urine and can relieve burning and pain during sexual activity. Water helps relieve constipation, joint pains, headaches, interstitial cystitis and much more. Drink bottled or filtered water rather than tap water, because additional chemicals may be added to regular drinking water.

5. Add fiber to your diet to promote regular bowel movements. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can contribute to sexual pain when constipation is involved because of the pressure and added nerve sensitivity to the bladder and sexual organs. Reducing this pressure and sensitivity may provide some relief for painful sexual symptoms. Natural fiber comes from eating such foods as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Additional options for supplemental fiber can be found at the health food store and even the drug store.

One more thing:

You must give up the attitude of “playing through the pain.” While coaches often urge athletes, young and old, to “play through the pain,” it’s vital to abandon this attitude when it comes to enduring painful sex as an adult. Many women believe that they must have sex to please their partner despite the pain, and if they don’t, there’s something fundamentally wrong with them. Nothing could be further from the truth. A loving partner would never want to inflict such pain.

No matter how long you’ve suffered, it’s important to be patient as you work to get better. Even in the best of circumstances, it will take time and effort on your part to experience relief. When you hit a wall, remember the Japanese expression, “seven times down, eight times up.”

So perhaps this is the most important tip of all: Never give up. Never lose hope. You can get better.

Excerpted from the booklet, “64 Tips to Relieve Sexual Pain,” by Susan Bilheimer and Robert J. Echenberg, MD., copyright 2008. Go to http://www.secretsuffering.com/ for more information.

Link to blog: http://twshf.blogspot.com/2009/04/guest-blogger-five-tips-to-relieve.html

Add a Comment3 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


July 24, 2009 - 5:18am
EmpowHER Guest

In SOME cases ,chronic pelvic pain can be considered one of many Central Sensitization Syndromes, an insightful term coined by Muhammad Yunus. They also include fibromyalgia, migraine, irritable bowel, chronic bladder pain, chronic fatigue, restless legs, among others. In my recently published book, The Truth About Fibromyalgia, I cite circumstantial evidence suggesting that these syndromes may be caused by disruption in the deep sleep patterns preventing the limbic system from properly recharging. Thus, [pain and sympathetic activity cannot be properly regulated during the day. Therapy must be directed at improving the resultant brain chemical imbalance and sleep.

July 10, 2009 - 8:54am
EmpowHER Guest

A new survey at http://vibrantnation.com, an online community for women over 50, focused on how women address sexual issues at mid-life offered important findings about their sexual health and health care. The study shared important insights that also mirror what we know about how these Vibrant women manage other aspects of their lives. They also suggest that healthcare providers and pharmaceutical marketers can serve these women better by using some of the same communication tools that work with women over 50 for most other topics, sex included. Women over 50 often experience pain over sex, but are too embarrassed or unable to ask for help from medical professionals or advice from their peers. Read more about these findings here: http://www.vibrantnation.com/stephen-reily-flash-forward/2009/06/09/boomer-women-and-sex-a-revealing-new-survey-part-1/

June 12, 2009 - 12:23pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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