When did you last have a really honest discussion about your current experiences of and during sex?At some time or another almost everyone thinks that they are doing it wrong, could do it better or that something is wrong with them. The truth is many of us have faced challenges in the ways we experience sex, not only with what we enjoy or dislike, but also in how it feels. Many women have, or do experience discomfort or pain during penetrative sex. If that’s you, then you are in a similar situation to many others. Why is pain so common? There are lots of reasons why women experience pain during penetration. These include:
- recent birth
- recent surgery
- menstrual issues
- Cystitis, Thrush or other infection
- vulvodynia — pain in the vulva due to oversensitive nerve fibres
- vestibulodynia — localised pain the vaginal entrance
- vaginismus — involuntary tightening of the vaginal muscles.
“When sex hurts, then your mind gets anxious which causes your body to tighten up, which causes sex to hurt even more. It’s a spiral that is hard to break without really good relaxation techniques”Involving a partner If you feel comfortable, you can involve a partner in all the above. If not, then decide when you feel ready to start teaching your partner what you’ve learnt. Be clear with them about what is possible and what is a no-go when it comes to your body. You may like to introduce a safeword. This is a word that is nothing to do with sex that you can say when you want everything to stop immediately. It’s often associated with kink practices but it’s a useful tool in any intimacy situation where you are exploring edges. ‘Stop’ often feels too harsh and people draw back from saying it when they need to. A safeword such as ‘yellow’ is softer. It often means, ‘give me a second to regroup and offer feedback on what happened for me.’ Remember, the more secure you feel, the better this is going to be. If the clitoris is available during sex, then you can try oral or finger stimulation. Simulated sex may also be an option. It can feel very sexy to grind together, even with clothes on. When you’re ready, try this naked. If your partner angles his penis to rub your clitoris with each thrust, you’ll both experience yummy sensations and possibly orgasm. All the motion, none of the penetration. If the entire vulva is off-limits, it may be that none of the above are options for you. Luckliy for us our whole body can be an erotic zone. If you didn’t know it, one square inch of skin can contain 1,000 nerve endings — that’s a promising place to start. Once you take the focus away from the clitoris, you’ll notice the power of sensations in other parts of the body. Toes, hands, ears, bottom and, of course, nipples are all great places to start. Sex toys — friend or foe? The answer to any sex-positive question is always, it depends. For example, some people find vibrators help their muscles relax. Others find them irritating. There is a form of therapy for vaginismus that involves using progressively bigger dildos starting with a very small one. These are all options to explore. If your partner is missing the penetrative aspect of sex, it’s ok to talk about that and find a solution. If you both want to simulate penetration, there are male masturbation toys you can incorporate into play to revive that aspect. It’s all in the mind Sex is fun, healthy and completely adaptable. Intimacy with another person is an endless exploration that can benefit from facing challenges together. It’s about sharing experiences and exchanging ideas. Don’t let conditioning that reduces sex to a single act of penetration stand in the way of claiming your pleasure and making sex work for you. If you want more frank, shame-free chat about our wonderful bodies including how we can enjoy them and keep them healthy, join the peesting facebook group. You will be very welcome .