Painful sex: For better or for worse?
ROSES ARE red, violets are blue, but real life happens, and pain is true. Sexual intercourse, that sacred unifying act in a matrimony, is not necessarily always pleasant for all couples at all phases of their relationship. Most women experience painful intercourse at some point in their lives, whether when they are pregnant or breastfeeding, during menopause, or through a bout of major illness, such as cancer or heart disease. Surveys show that one in five women, that is 20% of womenfolk, experience some kind of recurrent or persistent pain either before, during, or after sexual intercourse, which is termed medically as dyspareunia (pronounced dis-puh-ROO-ne-uh).
The location and frequency of the pain varies, and can manifest itself as:
• Pain with every penetration, even while putting in a tampon
• Pain with certain partners, or just under certain circumstances
• New pain after previously pain-free intercourse
• Superficial (entry) pain, which is very common
• Deep pain during thrusting
• Burning pain or aching pain
So, the question is: Should the 80 % of women who have pleasurable sex credit this to their ‘superior’ sexual performance, as compared to their other womenfolk, be it their mother, sister or daughter? Or should you give the credit to the menfolk for this great sexual pleasure?
Fortunately or unfortunately, the real answer lies in the anatomy and physiology of the female organs, and has nothing at all to do with a ‘staged’ performance, even if you were assisted by some artificial aphrodisiac.
There are many medical problems which can be the reason for sexual pain in women, such as a vaginal yeast infection or genital herpes (a sexually-transmitted infection), endometriosis (a very painful condition whereby the lining of the uterus attaches itself to areas such as the vagina or the pelvic region), bladder infection (deep penetration can affect the inflamed tissues), inflamed vulva, causing a burning sensation during intercourse, or an abnormal growth or structure in the pelvic regions, such as cysts, prolapsed bladder or uterus, or even adhesions caused from the infamous ‘clean-out’ surgery.
Menopausal women, whose bodies produce lesser amounts of estrogen at this time of their lives, can also experience painful sex, since this hormone not only affects the plumpness of the skin, but also causes vaginal dryness, hence painful intercourse.
Here’s a quote from Linda, 55, who began experiencing pain during intercourse shortly after going through menopause three years ago. “It almost feels like my skin is ripping, to the point that it was not, for me, bearable. This was interfering with our relationship. We’re young at heart; young in mind. I’m 50-something, not 80-something, and I want the whole rest of the package. I don’t want to say, ‘Well, that’s it; I’m done for the day.'”
More women are becoming vocal nowadays about their sexual health, which must be encouraged if your medical advisor should get to the bottom of the problem. Communicating your concerns and understanding your body and its normal response to sexual activity are important steps towards gaining sexual satisfaction.
Gone are the days when a gynaecologist would tell you that “the pain is in your head.” Modern medicine today knows better, and so, you should seek to ask your healthcare professional to provide you with answers to the following logical questions, if you or someone you know maybe experiencing pain at this time:
• What could be causing my problem?
• What lifestyle changes can I make to improve my situation?
• What treatments are available?
• What books or other reading materials can you recommend? Do you recommend any Websites?
It is normal to experience pain at some time in your life, but the great news is that once the underlying root cause is identified, then the problem can be solved simply by an open discussion with your partner, where switched positions, more foreplay and lubrication can be suggested.
However, if the condition requires more expert advice, then a multifaceted approach is needed, whereby the gynaecologist and the psychiatrist can sit with the couple and discuss treatment options. For example, someone suffering from depression and or anxiety, a proven medical condition, can experience painful intercourse if left untreated, but at the same time, there are some antidepressants which can decrease your sex drive and your body’s ability to experience an orgasm. So, if this not communicated in a professional manner, it can potentially create an explosive reaction from your partner, where, instead of solving the problem, it can get worse.
Additionally, there are other medications such as some cancer drugs, blood pressure and anti-allergy meds which have a negative reaction to your sex drive and caution should be taken when taking them.
Although painful sex or dyspareunia is not psychological, there are rare cases where women who have been traumatised or abused sexually may experience pain, most times superficially or at the point of entry as indicated earlier. Stress is another emotional factor which may cause painful intercourse.
Generally, one does not seek emergency medical help for painful intercourse, unless there is increased pain, nausea, vomiting or rectal pain following vaginal intercourse.
In summary, if you are not experiencing a great sex life, then it is important that you know that you are not alone, and that this condition, though not urgent but critical, can be treated. Treatment varies according to the underlying cause, and can include counselling, lubrication, estrogen therapy, anti-infectives or the famous Kegel exercises. So let’s look for answers to medical problems, and remember that it is for better or for worse.
For further information, please call the pharmacist at Medicine Express, located at 223 Camp Street, between Lamaha and New Market Streets. If you have any queries, comments or further information on the above topic, kindly forward them to: firstname.lastname@example.org or send them to 223 Camp Street, N/burg. Tel #225-5142.