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Dear Dr. Kate: How Can I Make Sex Less Painful?

Thu, Jan 22, 2009

Advice, What's Up Doc?

ladybug_sexphoto by kaibara87

Dr. Kate is an OB/GYN at one of the largest teaching hospitals in New York City who will be answering your medical questions here regularly:

Dr. Kate,

Since I started having sex (4 years ago, I’m 20 now) I’ve never been able to handle penetration for a very long time. After a while it loses its fun and becomes painful. My current boyfriend and I use lube and we make sure I get aroused so that I’m very wet. He takes a while to come from sex and I can’t help but make him stop after a while. How do I make sex less painful? I want to be able to handle him a little bit better (he’s a little bit on the larger side) but it hurts when we start and just gets worse. I’m becoming discouraged from having sex since it’s losing its fun for me. Help!

– In Pain

Dear In Pain,

No wonder you’re discouraged from having sex — it’s hard to think about pleasure when you’re just trying to avoid pain. While pain during sex is unfortunately common — two thirds of women will experience it at some point — it’s never normal. And it’s not that you’re not a good fit with your guy — the vagina was designed to fit a baby, so unless he’s book-of-records large, it’s not his size that’s the problem.

You’re doing one of the best things already by using lubricant. But wetness isn’t the only sign of arousal — you want your pelvis to be engorged as well. Make sure you get enough foreplay so you’re really aroused before intercourse (you want to have plenty of blood flowing to your vagina to make penetration easier). Your boyfriend can also insert a finger in your vagina first, so you can judge how you’re doing arousal-wise before actually having intercourse. Don’t worry about taking “too long” — women on average need 20-30 minutes of good foreplay to become physically aroused enough for comfortable intercourse.

The fact that sex hurts when you start could mean that you’re not getting the foreplay you need…but it could also signify that you have vulvodynia, or pain in the vulva not just caused by sex. If you experience vulvar pain at other times — like with tampons or gyn exams, or even tight jeans — vulvodynia may be the culprit.

There are a lot of reasons why sex can hurt, and almost all of them can be addressed. Your gyno can also help you figure out what’s happening, and help you make sex fun, not just bearable.

Are any of you struggling with painful sex?

– Dr. Kate

Dr. Kate is an OB/GYN at one of the largest teaching hospitals in New York City. She also lectures nationally on women’s health issues and conducts research on reproductive health. Check out more of her advice and ask her a question at Gynotalk.com.

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125 Responses to “Dear Dr. Kate: How Can I Make Sex Less Painful?”

  1. Luci Says:

    So my last boyfriend and I were together for about 4 months. When we had sex it was not terrible but it wasn’t…. Well, I’ve never had an orgasm. After about an hour it got really painful and I had to make him stop. And I would still hurt for about an hour after.
    With my current boyfriend, though, it still hurts, but I last a bit longer before I push him away. But it hurts for much longer after. He’s bigger than the last guy, so it wasn’t a dffference in size that made the actual sex more bearable but the after pain worse.

    My question is this: what are some reasons for the changes in discomfort?

  2. Jamie Says:

    I’ve been having similar pain issues. However, I’ve found that no matter what I do I still seem to be real tight. I’ve found that I can only handle a regular size tampon not even the super kind because they hurt, how do I make myself a little bigger to accomidate. I’ve been dealing with the pain for my boyfriend and his pleasure but I’m not getting any pleasure from it and have gotten to where I hate it. I don’t know what to do. I tried lubricant and it still doesn’t work. My gyno said I still had a portion of my hymen still attached and that could cause the pain. She said I may need surgery to remove it but I was wanting to see what you thought before I agreed to surgery

  3. Alexa Says:

    My boyfriend and I are at a loss. Sex really hurts for me and sometimes foreplay does too. I’m what we call “damaged” for a good 2-3 days after we have sex. We can’t use lube because I’m very allergic to it. Just wanting some answers

  4. Elizabeth Says:

    Me and my last boyfriend were together for 10 months and after he took my virginity i thought all of the pain was over. It burned really bad when it was happening and i couldnt sit on any hard chairs for a few days. When we broke up i hooked up with my best friend and he was a lot bigger than my boyfriend. He went really fast so i didnt really feel pain during the sex but i did after. I have had sex about 15 times. Why is it still hurting?

  5. Missy C. Says:

    I have some what of the same problem as the other women. I’m 20 and have been active for a few years now. It hurt during my first time and years later it still hurts with soreness, burning, and sometime I feel no pain and no pleasure(it take a good 5minutes for entry alone). I feel my vagina is very sensitive because I experience pain even with a poke of a finger and during PAP’s and etc. most times I can get past the penetration and it’ll get better but I don’t experience the O-M-G feeling that I hear about so often. I’m convinced it’s a mental thing seeing as that’s where the stimulation occurs first. If so, how can I change my mind set?

  6. Chris Says:

    @alexa – water is the best lube

  7. Chris Says:

    My girlfriend and I use lube and even going super slow doesn’t help. We have tried lube, vagina exercises, long breaks, sex toys, and even went to the gyno; still nothing.

  8. pinky Says:

    iam really very worried sex.though am interested i could not make it out.its alaraedy 8 months since we got married.1m 23.i did nt try foreplay even.am really tensed.it is hurting my husband a lot.so please suggest me some idea.help me out to overcome this problem.

  9. tanya Says:

    hello, yes i have the same problem.. i need help also my current boyfriend that i lost it to is getting teased mad and upset, hes saying he never had problems like this we both think im mental and werid, cus it was my 1st time i was crying so hard it hurt me alot, and everytime we do it STILL noting same pain , somtimes even more pain then it was, please help if someone has somthing to say to me, i really want to make love and all that but the pain wont leavemy mind, and thats why im never having the good time or the OMG pleasure:(

  10. Jess Says:

    Me and my bf have been together for 2years now, and we had only started having sex recently. The problem that we’re having is that it won’t insert properly and it causes me a lot of pain also. I was just wondering is their a correct way to insert it properly without any pain?

  11. Yeasmine Says:

    Dear. Dr. Kate

    I would like to know if there is a surgical procedure women can get done in order to make their first time sex less painful? I would like to know if such a procedure exists.

    THank You

  12. kay Says:

    dear dr.kate i have been with my boyfriend for 4 months now and we had a active sex life and i used to when we first started i could get on top and now its becoming very painful for me. my question is how do i still fulfill my boyfriends needs of me getting on top but still be less painful?

  13. KNic Says:

    Dear Dr. Kate,
    So I’ve been with two different guys recently. One’s about 5 inches, and the other about 7. Though it doesn’t hurt to have sex with the man with the smaller penis, it does to have sex with the larger. Is there a reason for this? Is there any way I can make it less painful and more enjoyable for myself and him?

  14. Stephanie Says:

    Hello, i have been with my boyfriend for about 4 years, and right as he enters it kind of hurts a bit.. Even when i go to pap tests or pelvic exams they have a hell of a time getting it in because i tighten up and it hurts so bad even when im relaxed. I would like to know why it hurts so bad? I have never been pregnant, and only slept with 10 guys and im only 21 years old. Lost my virginity when i was 16 (raped).

  15. Baylee Says:

    So I’ve had sex about 7-8 times. Everytime I do it feels good, but hurts afterwards. I get swollen, and it hurts from about 1-2 days. I don’t honesty know why, but it makes me not want to have sex.

  16. Christine Says:

    I’m 22 and just lost my virginity last August. I was born with a small vagina and had to have vaginal reconstruction. I had it done a bit later in life because of other health issues that needed taken care of. My boyfriend and I have been together a few months now and I’m not too quick to want to have sex. I almost feel it’s a chore. It hurts in certain positions and it just doesn’t feel good. I also can’t give my self an orgasm by stimulation. When I use my toy I can orgasm, but not on my own. I also definitely can’t get off with my boyfriend. The sex doesn’t feel good and oral isn’t great either. How can I fix my issues?

  17. Sad Says:

    I don’t know why, but right at the beginning of sex, when my fianc√©e tries to enter me, it hurts and burns so bad that it is unbearable. It gets a little bit better as we go on, but there is still such pain. I also have problems having an orgasm like this. I feel like there is something wrong with me. I bleed occasionally during sex, and this thick, brownish red stuff comes out of me. Can you help tell me what is wrong?

  18. sunny Says:

    hiya I have problems with sex I don’t no what it is but every sex parter I have it hurts I have been to the doctors about it and they said nothings wrong

  19. Emma Says:

    Few suggestions for you all having this issue…

    One of the biggest issues for this is not being properly stimulated before sex. It is very rightly said that you need a good amount of foreplay to get really aroused. Take it slow. Let your guys do enough of kissing, licking and teasing with your body first. Before he goes down on you, even if its for an oral, make sure you are wet enough down there.
    When you are ready, let your guy give you a nice oral. And only after you are completely “in the mood”, go all in. Let him go slow first. Try different position and see which fits best for you and your partner.

    With these tips, I hope you all will be able to enjoy your sex life again!
    Regards!

  20. Ashley Says:

    Me and my boyfriend have been together for about a year and a half and we have sex very regularly. To this day it still hurts, more after than during. Sex just isn’t enjoyable for me. When he puts it in it hurts right away, almost like I have a cut on the bottom of the vaginal opening. We have tried taking a break for about a month but it didn’t help. I am usually fully lubricated and aroused but that doesn’t seem to help either. It has gotten to the point that I am just having sex for him, not because I want it. I just want sex to be as enjoyable for me like it is for him. Every time it either feels like nothing or it hurts. We have tried using astroglide but it just burns and irritates my skin. And when we do have sex it always hurts like my left wall of my vagina, either during sex, after sex, or both. The pain after sex usually lasts for about two days. He’s not extremely big either, I would say that he is average. Can you please please help me. I feel like if sex doesn’t get better we are going to break it off. I can’t keep dealing with the pain and miserable sex. Sometimes I think that it’s him, so then I start to think about sex with other guys. But then again i’m not sure if it’s me. Please help!!!!!!!

  21. jason Says:

    i have a girlfriend that is 30 years old and she is a virgin. we are trying to have sex and she feels pain in her vigina. the first time i entered in and really did not go all the way in. i went in a 1/4 of the way and she had a little blood. then we continued to try sex again and she feels continuing pain. please tell me why is her pain continuing when we are trying to have sex? and if there is more blood to come because maybe she needs to have her insides to break through for little more blood so we can have full intercourse. please answer my question because i need help with this?

  22. Robert Says:

    Dear Dr. Kate,

    I’m typing this with my wife next to me. We usually spend a decent amount of time for foreplay (usually involving a finger or two). During that time there’s no pain. It’s not until after I enter her that she starts having unexplainable pain. Just last night she was almost at tears, so we stopped. She has gone through childbirth three years ago, but up until about six months ago there was no pain. She feels pretty lubed up when foreplay is done, but we can’t tell for sure. We plan to take your advice and try to see if additional lubricant would be helpful. It’s really putting a strain on her as she feels she can’t pleasure me (it’s disappointing sometimes but I love her for her). I know you’ve answered several like questions before, but anything further you can provide would be appreciated.

    Sincerely,
    Robert

  23. sarah powers Says:

    my boyfriend and i have been together for a year and sex does hurt now. it onlyy happens after a while i am wet we tried a warming lubercabt and thats what was hurt me. i burn when ever he is in me. how do i stop this from hurting?
    sarah powers 20 yes of age.

  24. kylie rose Says:

    I’m getting ready to go to my boyfriends house and have sex for the first time. I’m so scared that it will hurt or bleed or burn etc. What should I do to make myself less stressed?

  25. Alexa Says:

    Have been having sex with my former boy Frnd no complains.. Till I had sex with my present boy Frnd after the sex my tummy started hurt me down to my back I could not stand up right cause the pain was soo sever. He is will long and big


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