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Sex shouldn't hurt, but here are 7 reasons why it might

Based out of Dallas, Texas, Mary McCoy is a writer and social worker for disenfranchised women and children. She's a single mom, lover of Texas barbecue, and a die-hard fan of yoga

When the big O stands for Ouch!

Sex is supposed to be fun, right? Unfortunately, many women suffer from painful sex throughout their lifespans. Here are the most common reasons for painful sex, and what you can do about it.

Just listen in on a mimosa-fueled ladies' brunch, and you're likely to hear many women complaining of groaning rather than moaning during sex. We spoke with Dr. Jane Nokleberg of Walnut Hill Obstetrics & Gynecology in Dallas to find out what's really going on, and why it's important to treat the problem.

The causes of pain during sex

First of all, it's important to note that painful sex is not normal. Nokleberg outlines the following reasons why some women report painful intercourse.

  1. First sexual activity. Unsurprisingly, women often deal with pain when they first become sexually active. This problem usually takes care of itself with time, but lubricants can help as you grow accustomed to sex.
  2. Infections. Common conditions like yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis and sexually transmitted infections can contribute to painful intercourse.
  3. Endometriosis. This painful condition causes scar tissue to grow inside the body, and patients often feel deep pain when their cervix is bumped into scar tissue during sex.
  4. Vaginal dryness. Hormones are often to blame if you suddenly experience vaginal dryness. It's pretty common for post-menopausal women and women who have just given birth to deal with uncomfortable dryness. Thankfully, a lubricant can help. So can an intimate wash product, like Vagisil Moisturizing Wash.
  5. Ovarian cysts. Cysts are a different condition than endometriosis, but the source of pain is caused by the same concept. Deep penetration can move the cervix and aggravate the painful, inflamed cysts.
  6. Vaginal atrophy. When estrogen drops with menopause, the tissue of the vagina tends to grow inflamed, dry and thin. Ouch.
  7. Muscle spasms. Seriously, a vaginal muscle spasm? Muscle spasms of the pelvic floor are called vaginismus, and they sound horrifying.

The importance of seeking treatment

It's reasonable to try home remedies at first, particularly if you think the cause of pain is dryness or a yeast infection. But if you don't see relief from home remedies, Nokleberg states that it's extremely important to seek help. "Women need to reach out to their doctors when it becomes bothersome, so that it doesn't take a toll on her emotionally and affect her relationships," she says. "When pain takes over, a woman can sometimes shut down and not want to be intimate at all."

If you tend to think your condition is beyond hope, don't give up. "There are things we can do as doctors, ranging from vaginal creams, biofeedback, physical therapy and even psychologist referrals," she adds. Talk to your doctor about your concerns so you don't suffer in silence.

This post was sponsored by Vagisil.

Tell us: What did painful sex do to your romantic relationship?

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