Sex may be different for everyone, but if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms or conditions, you’re actually in need of medical attention.
Burning vaginal pain at penetration
Vestibulodynia is a fairly common condition, which occurs when there is burning pain in the vestibule area of the vagina. It often causes pain with initial penetration, rather than deep penetration. “There are various subtypes of vestibulodynia which should be pinpointed based on an extensive history, visual exam, musculoskeletal exam of the pelvic floor, labs and neurosensory testing,” says Lisa M. Valle, DO, OB/GYN and medical director of Oasis Women’s Sexual Function Center in Santa Monica, California. Check out these health myths that even doctors believe.
Persistent pain during intercourse
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Although similar to vestibulodynia in the sense that this condition causes recurrent or persistent genital pain associated with sexual intercourse, dyspareunia is different in that it can happen in both men and women. “It can be caused by a multiple of factors both medical, physical and psychological,” says Dawn Michael, PhD, clinical sexologist, relationship expert and author of My Husband Won’t Have Sex With Me. This type of condition, she explains, can affect a person’s relationship drastically.
To help mitigate the pain, Tammy Nelson, PhD, certified sex therapist and author of Getting the Sex You Want, recommends using a silicone-based lubricant and reducing the use of antihistamines which can dry out vaginal tissues. “If you’re still in pain, see a gynecologist or a urologist,” she adds. Ask your gyno these questions at your next visit.
This condition involves ejaculating involuntarily right before or right after penetration, explains Dr. Nelson. “Keep in mind that most men last an average of four minutes, so don’t sweat it if you are close to that—you are probably within the normal range,” she adds. However, if you consistently ejaculate immediately when you are aroused, see a sex therapist for behavioral techniques to work on the problem. Kegel exercises could help men with premature ejaculation.
This incredibly common sexual problem often goes unresolved for most women. According to Dr. Valle, dryness down there can result from breastfeeding, hormonal changes as a woman approaches menopause, or medication side effects. “Low estrogen levels occur naturally with consistent breastfeeding, which can contribute to decreased vaginal lubrication,” she explains. “Hormonal changes close to menopause also cause decreased lubrication and thinning of the vaginal tissues.” Over-the-counter lubricants and moisturizers can help, although Dr. Valle recommends organic brands; many of the preservatives in non-organic lubes haven’t been tested for long-term safety in the vagina. Check out the 13 things your vagina wants to tell you.