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Why does it hurt so much during intercourse?

By February 2, 2009 - 2:47pm
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I am 28, and healthy.
During sexual intercourse with my husband, I am in constant sharp pain. There is only one position where it hurts less in the vagina - unfortunately, I end up in worse pain because I am not meant to bend in that way. The pain only occurs during penetration - not during oral sex or when he touches me.

We have used lubricants of multiple varieties, condoms, foreplay to increase lubrication.
I have visited a gynecologist, with no results. The gynecologist assured me that it was just a matter of having enough lubrication.

My husband's libido is not high as is, and it only makes things worse when I'm in pain during sex. My libido has been getting worse, just because it's so difficult to desire something that causes such pain. We are trying to get pregnant, and I know that this is not helping.

I just want to get some idea of what the possibilities are. That way, I can take a list of the possibilities with me to the gynecologist - that will make sure we test for anything physically that could be wrong.

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EmpowHER Guest

I know it's been some time since you posted this... and I pray that by now you've found your solution. But, if not....

Vaginismus, vulvodynia and vestibulitus.... I would definitely seek out an ob-gyn that knows more about these if I were you. I was seeing an ob-gyn for the longest time and could never complete a routine ob-gyn vaginal exam without practically jumping off the table in pain. Then when I got married and started attempting intercourse I complained to my ob-gyn about painful intercourse and she told me the same thing... lack of lubrication... even suggested I may not be sexually attracted to the man I had just married (as we were newlyweds at the time). Finally, a specialist's name was mentioned... I went to go see her and was immediately diagnosed with vaginismus and vulvodynia. I also had a hormone blood test done and it was found that the birth control that I had been put on for years to control painful cramping had also caused a severe drop in my hormone levels which then caused major drying out in the tissue around the vulva... this was a issue when attempting intercourse as it tore open my vulva and caused more pain. During my exam, the specialist demonstrated to me how fragile my tissue had become from drying out (due to the drop in hormones) by touching a q-tip to the bottom of the vulva and the tissue split. I never in a million years would have thought a q-tip could cut me.
Anyways, I've used hormone gels and been going through numerous physical therapy appointments but I have seen a drastic amount of improvement in my condition. I encourage you to discuss these condition with a specialist or new ob-gyn... and if diagnosed with what I have... just keep reminding yourself that it can get better... it will just take time. Be patient.

April 22, 2012 - 1:25pm
EmpowHER Guest

My fiance is having these same pains everytime we have sex...she also has seen a gyn, and they said that all they seen is that her right olvary was tender...we have a 1yr old and she had a very tough labor..could. that b the cause

April 16, 2012 - 11:45pm
EmpowHER Guest

Those were some great lists, but I'm really surprised no one mentioned vulvodynia, and especially- vestibulitus which is very fitting to the sharp pain description you gave. It is estimated that ~16% of women will have this at some point in their lives. I had it severely for a few years and could tell you a lot more about it after you get a new Gyno to give you a better workup. Hang in there.

February 6, 2009 - 11:30am


Thank you for the information. The pain is a deep pain. There were times that the pain was also in the vagina, but that has not happened since we began using lots of lubricants.

I have reviewed some of the information at the links you suggested. I believe I will be able to better clarify what type of pain it is, and where it is located, the next time I go to the gynecologist.

I really appreciate your help.


February 4, 2009 - 7:28am

I wanted to help provide some answers to your questions!

Yes, prostatitis is inflammation of the prostate, that only men have. The list Tina provided were reasons for pain during intercourse for both men and women.

Endometriosis: The lining of the uterus is called the endometrium. Sometimes, endometrial tissue grows elsewhere in the body. When this happens it is called endometriosis. You can read more about this here

Vaginismus and Pain During Intercourse. You can read more about these conditions at the ACOG site here. This online brochure recommends locating the place(s) of your pain:

"During sex a woman may feel pain in the vulva, at the opening of the vagina, within the vagina, or deep inside. Vulvar pain is pain felt on the surface (outside) of the vagina. Vaginal pain is felt within the vagina. Deep pain can occur in the lower back, pelvic region, uterus, and bladder.

Different types of pain have different causes. It's important to find the cause because you may have problems that need medication, surgery, or counseling."

February 3, 2009 - 3:28pm

Tina -
Thank you for the great list of options. Of the list, I think the only ones we have not tested, and thus may still be a cause:

Prostatitis - I thought only men have prostates?
Endometriosis - I don't know what this is

I will bring this up with my gynecologist. I am in the process of finding a new gyno, but it's been put on hold until my new health insurance starts.

I think both of us are less worried at my husband's lack of libido - it's not completely gone. And neither of us are very sexual. However, we both want kids, and until we can fix this pain issue, it will be harder to conceive.

February 2, 2009 - 3:34pm

I’m sorry to hear you’re having this issue and appreciate you taking the time to write us.

It’s estimated that between 50 and 66 percent of women experience some pain during sexual intercourse and it can range from mild to severe. Your OB/GYN was correct is saying that vaginal dryness or inadequate lubrication is an issue, but there are other factors that could be contributing to the pain as well. They include:

* "Intercourse too soon after surgery or child birth
* Menopause (vaginal lining loses its normal moisture and becomes dry)
* Vaginal infection
* Reaction to the latex of a diaphragm or condom
* Prostatitis -- inflammation of the prostate
* Genital irritation from soaps, detergents, douches, or feminine hygiene products
* Herpes sores, genital warts, or other sexually transmitted diseases
* Urinary tract infections
* Endometriosis
* Vaginismus -- involuntary contraction of the vaginal muscles; this may be a result of ongoing painful intercourse as well as a cause
* Ill fitting diaphragm
* Sexual abuse or rape
* Hemorrhoids
* Certain medications"

Could any of these issues be a possible cause of the pain for you?

For more information, you may want to check out this article from the National Institutes of Health.

The American College of Obstectrics and Gynecology has some great information about pain and its possible causes that you ]]>can find at this link.]]>

In addition, EmpowHer.com features helpful interviews with some of the leading sexual health experts in the country. You may want to view the videos below.

Is Painful Sex Normal?

What Causes a Decreasing Libido?

How Can I Improve My Libido And Sex Drive?

How long have you experienced the pain?

February 2, 2009 - 3:25pm
EmpowHER Guest

First of all, have your husband's testosterone level checked. If this is part of his low libido problem then it will help so much.

For you - find a new GYN. There could be many different reasons for the pain and you should be able to find the root cause with a good GYN. Don't give up - keep going.

February 2, 2009 - 3:13pm
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