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HealthCare & Wellness Breaking the Chains of Addiction. The Last Door Recovery Society
Mature discussion surrounding important health issues and concerns. Alternative therapies, healthcare questions, discussion of community resources, peer support help, group therapy, etc.

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Old 06-14-2006, 08:24 AM   #1
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From Ow to WOW!

Demystifying painful intercourse and other vaginal sex

At least once every couple days, I hear about a woman complaining that vaginal entry - either manual sex or penetration - is painful, uncomfortable, or unfulfilling for them. Sadly, many young women report having painful intercourse or other vaginal sex again and again, MANY without even saying a word to their partners.

In fact, plenty of women of all ages simply assume intercourse is going to be, or has to be, painful or uncomfortable - some for the first few times, others that it simply always is to some degree.

Whatever sort of vaginal entry we're talking about - be it with fingers, a penis, a dildo, or partner of any gender - not only doesn't have to be painful, it really shouldn't be. More than that, any kind of sex shouldn't be about a lack of pain, but the presence of pleasure.

Are you (or is your partner) experiencing vaginal pain during sex? Then read on, while we look at the most common culprits and talk about how to identify, address, process and be rid of them, and help make vaginal stimulus a big "WOW" instead of a big "Ow."

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Old 06-14-2006, 08:30 AM   #2
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1. Those annual sexual health exams up to date?
If not, that's the VERY first place to start. If you're having painful vaginal entry, then you're sexually active, and you positively, absolutely need to be getting an annual sexual health exam, including a basic bimanual/pelvic exam, a pap smear, and full STI screening.

If you're having more than one partner in a year, yes, even if you're using latex barriers for manual sex, oral sex, vaginal and/or anal sex, you need those STI screenings even more often. Painful vaginal entry or intercourse can be due to certain infections, as well as condtions such as vaginismus, pelvic inflammatory disease (which usually arises from unidentified and/or untreated STIs) or an imperforate or particularly stubborn hymen. Before you look for any other culprits, start in the office of your healthcare pro: that's important both to find out what the root of the problem is AND to safeguard your sexual health.

Been having unprotected sex? Having pain during intercourse? Unexplained bleeding during and/or aftertr? While Chlamydia can often be asymptomatic, these are also very common symptoms. hlamydia rates in young women are incredibly high, and chances are good that part of why is because male partners saying they have been having STI screenings just plain haven't, and young women aren't insisting on safer sex. Many more women here report their male partners have been screened here than is statistically realistic. If you haven't had a copy of your partner's recent screening results in your hands, assume they have NOT been screened, and insist on using all aspects of safer sex with those partners.

Once that is taken care of, and if either no medical culprits are found, or they are and are treated but you're still having discomfort, look further.
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Old 06-14-2006, 08:39 AM   #3
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2. Are you highly aroused well BEFORE any sort of vaginal entry?
If you answered yes without even a thought (or an enjoyable long sigh), and you haven't been sexually active for a long time or actively masturbating on your own for a good while, you may not be or even know when you are. Liking our partner, even being crazy in love with them, isn't the same thing as full arousal.

If you're a young healthy woman without any medical conditions which can alter how your sexual response system works, when you're very aroused, generally, you will feel flushed. Your heart rate will be a bit quicker, your body may feel tingly, your muscles alert but relaxed. You may be breathing more quickly. Your vagina will naturally lubricate, sometimes profoundly (though at some times in your monthly cycle, that may be more or less) so that you feel "wet." Your genitals and whole body will feel more and more sensitive the more highly aroused you become; your clitoris will enlarge slightly, your vaginal opening will losen, your breasts may also swell. You will feel a very strong desire to be sexually engaged with your partner, usually more so than when the two of you started initiating sexual activity.

What sort of things might inhibit (keep you from) full arousal?
  • Relationship conflicts or problems, doubts
  • Worries about STI or pregnancy (which are more likely when you're not practicing safer sex)
  • Previous sexual trauma or shame
  • Lack of trust in a partner
  • An emotionally, sexually or physically abusive partner
  • Worries about embarassing oneself, doing sex "wrong" or really letting go in front of a partner
  • Certain prescriptions like antidepressants, or recreational drugs or alcohol
  • Poor general health, sedentary lifestyle or poor nutrition
  • Body or self image problems
  • Anticipating pain; feeling scared or nervous
  • Sexual orientation questioning or strong doubts
  • Ethical conflicts about being sexually active
  • Being with a partner you don't really want to be with
  • Feeling like you might get caught, or in a rush or hurry
  • The old wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am: in other words, jumping (or being pushed) right into vaginal entry without any sort of foreplay
  • Entering into certain sexual activities before you really want to or feel ready
  • Feeling like sex is a performance, or a way to prove your worth to a partner
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Old 06-14-2006, 08:45 AM   #4
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And on the same vein...

3. Do you really WANT to be having intercourse/manual sex or any sort of sex?

That might sound silly, but it's important to consider every time you do have sex: do you want to have intercourse, or other vaginal sex for YOUR pleasure and satisfaction as much as your partners? Do you find yourself attempting intercourse or manual sex with a partner when you suspect or know when you're not aroused or interested? Because you know it'll get them to stop nagging you or placate them? If so, in a word, KNOCK IT OFF. You truly don't want to get into that habit or set that precedent.

Is your male partner (presuming we're talking about heterosexual intercourse and dynamics) attempting intercourse when HE doesn't feel aroused? NO. Even if erections weren't required for sex, given the usual sexual dynamics of our culture, he likely wouldn't be. Good for him if he isn't: sex out of nothing but obligation tends to be really detrimental physically, sexually, and emotionally to a healthy relationship. But YOU should be held to no different standards, neither by a partner nor yourself. If you have a male partner who's not especially informed or on-the-ball, he may say or think of something to the effect of "well I can't even HAVE intercourse if I'm not aroused," meaning because he doesn't have an erection.

The truth is, if you're not aroused, it's just physically impossible for you to do so without discomfort, without it really "working" as it is for him.

Once you start a sexual relationship, that doesn't mean your partner (or you, for that matter) has an all-access-pass to sex whenever, wherever, or however they want it with you. That's what masturbation is for: that's the only 24/7 pass to sex at anytime any of us gets to have. Even in a long-term relationship, sex is a request, a possibility, and in a healthy, mutually respectful partnership, only when both partners are aroused -- or interested in becoming aroused -- and truly interested in sex.
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Old 06-14-2006, 08:50 AM   #5
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4. Are you communicating with your partner?
And is he (or she) responding to what you're communicating? In other words, when you say go slow or not so deep yet, or grab some of that lubricant, or ow, i think i need more oral sex first, or let's try this position instead, etc... Is he or she both listening AND following your lead? Remember though: NO MALE OR FEMALE ARE MIND READERS. In order for this to work, you MUST speak up first.

Faking orgasm or pleasure, for the record is a complete barrier to satisfying sex and good sexual partnership. If, via faking, you're lying to a partner about what feels good and doesn't, he or she isn't very likely to be able to find out what WILL feel good. And keeping at it when you're in pain every time you engage in the same activity makes it that much more likely that you'll continue to have pain every time you engage in the same activity. The vaginal muscles will anticipate pain with the cues from the brain, and that can both keep us from full arousal and cause the vagina to constrict upon itself, rather than opening up.
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Old 06-14-2006, 09:00 AM   #6
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HEY BOYFRIEND!
How can you help out here? Pretty easily. If you're concerned about your partner's pleasure as much as yours to read something like this, you're already halfway there. Woohoo!
  • Make it clear to your female partner that she should ALWAYS feel free to let you know when she's feeling pain or discomfort, even when you appear to be enjoying yourself. You can also make it clear that you only want to be having sex together at the time she wants to have sex too. If you can't deal with that, then you're not ready for sound sexual partnership yet. You have to learn to treat a partner like a whole human being, not just an object or sex toy.
  • Ask questions during sex. We're not talking about anything complicated: How does that feel? Is that comfortable for you? Need more lube? That sort of stuff.
  • Don't bang away with your penis or fingers if your patners vagina appears to be putting up resistance. Instead, go back a step or two: if inserting your penis is problematic or is causing your partner discomfort, go back to her clitoris for a while. Think baby steps.
  • Let your partner initiate sex just as much as you do
  • DO NOT RUSH. Period.
  • Remember that her vaginal canal not only isn't where all of her sexuality and pleasure lies, but that for most women. It's secondary. Paying attention to her whoel body and her whole vulva, not just her vagina, is the real deal. Just as guys like to have their testicles played with... Women have other pleasure zones than JUST the vaginal opening.
  • When your male friends start rifling off on a bunch of sexist sex myths (like a tight vagina being ideal, or intercourse being obligatory), find ways to pass on more accurate, healthy information.
P.S. This isn't being said to you and not female partners of women because we think boys are just jerks or stupid. Rather, this is being said to you because YOU DON'T HAVE A VAGINA. Unless you engage in receptive anal sex, which isn't identical but similar, you are never going to know what it's like for a woman.
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Old 06-14-2006, 09:01 AM   #7
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5. Is your partner being observant and patient enough to REALLY pay attention to the contours of your body, inside and out?
For example, the vaginal canal is CURVED, not straight, so sticking stiff, pointed fingers in there isn't likely to be pleasant, nor is approaching intercourse at an angle at which the penis or toy is poking the walls of the vagina. Make sure you're both taking time to adjust to positions or postures so that they are in harmony with your anatomy.
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Old 06-14-2006, 09:02 AM   #8
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6. Using lubricant as needed?
Lube can't replace arousal, mind you: it can't loosen the vaginal canal and opening the way that arousal can. But when you are already there, and things don't feel very slippery, it can be a big help. When using condoms and barriers, it's essential, not just to keep the barrier from tearing, but because often our own natural lube isn't enough when a barrier is added. Too, if you're also using hormonal contraceptives, often one of the side effects is an increase in vaginal dryness. During certain times of the fertility cycle as well (for those who are not using the pill, the patch or other hormonal methods), cervical mucus is thicker, which can make things more sticky and less slippery. Friction is part of what makes any kind of vaginal stimulus -- like intercourse or manual sex -- feel good, but too much friction causes discomfort. using plenty of latex-safe, water-based lube helps you strike the right balance.
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Old 06-14-2006, 09:03 AM   #9
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7. Have you had previous sexual trauma (like any form of rape, molestation or other sexual abuse)?
Have you had pain during vaginal entry before, or previous partners who were too rough, inconsiderate or who you felt fearful with? These previous experiences can result in current pain from intercourse or manual sex, because, in essence, our bodies remember the pain we've felt before and anticipate it by locking up and inhibiting arousal. If you suspect this is an issue, you can deal with that via counseling, and/or by letting your partner know about these experiences, and making sure you're both taking as much time as you need to introduce vaginal entry -- that can be weeks, months, even years. Whatever pace works for you -- makes you feel safe and relaxed over time so your body can -- is absolutely fine. So very many women have some form of sexual abuse or assault in their history, that any partner who has women as sex partners needs to be willing to work with those issues and the extra time it sometimes takes survivors to really get comfortable.

Sexual shaming is also a form of sexual trauma. If you have been raised with the strong message that wanting or having sex, or being aroused is shameful, dirty or makes you a bad person, that can make full arousal and pleasurable, comfortable sexual activity difficult.
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Old 06-14-2006, 09:03 AM   #10
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One last thing: some women discover that they just do not like intercourse or any other kind of vaginal entry, with partners of any gender. Having that preference is JUST as okay as it is for a man to discover that he just doesn't like anal entry for himself, or as a person just not liking oral sex or deep-mouthed kissing (or having their ears licked, or their toes kissed, or their testicles cupped, whatever). Again, having a sexual partnership doesn't oblige or commit anyone to agree to all sex acts al the time, or even at all. You may find you need to shop a bit for a partner whose wants and needs are compatible with yours in that regard, but nearly all of us have to do that no matter what our preferences and desires are. So if NONE of this stuff works for you, if you discover that you just plain don't like vaginal entry or penetration, don't make yourself crazy over it, or become convinced there's something wrong with you. Instead, invest your energy in exploring what DOES work for you, what you DO like and with whom that all works just fine. I assure you, finding partners with whom it does is less tricky than you'd think.
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Old 06-14-2006, 01:47 PM   #11
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Amen.
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Old 06-14-2006, 09:12 PM   #12
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I suppose this should get stickied...either here, or in the relationships forum..maybe both/
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Old 06-16-2006, 01:26 PM   #13
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wow been doin lots of stuff wrong
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Old 06-19-2006, 12:36 PM   #14
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Trinity:

It's not only girls who suffer pain.

I had to get circumsized because I had something called phimosis which caused extreme pain and made it extremly hard to have sex.

Phimosis is pretty much where your head wont go into the turtle neck. Now imagine enterhing that into a vagina...
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Old 08-04-2006, 02:46 PM   #15
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Excellent Post. I wish this was up here long ago.
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Old 08-04-2006, 04:01 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by MajinHurricane
Trinity:

It's not only girls who suffer pain.

I had to get circumsized because I had something called phimosis which caused extreme pain and made it extremly hard to have sex.

Phimosis is pretty much where your head wont go into the turtle neck. Now imagine enterhing that into a vagina...
Yeooouch.

I'll have to do some research and put up another similar post to this, except direct it towards guys

Thanks!!
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Old 08-10-2006, 03:17 PM   #17
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are there diffrerent levels of a woman having an orgasm?

what i mean is some woman just have the sensations while some women have extra fluid excretion, is that normal and would it cause any extra sensation? how can i make my gf do this?
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Old 08-10-2006, 04:12 PM   #18
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I don't think you can "make" your gf do anything, and also you have to remember that each woman is different. Some women may be naturally more 'wet' whereas others, they lack lubrication (and this is where you'd turn to lubricants like astroglide).
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Old 01-05-2009, 08:27 PM   #19
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