How To Manage Chronic Sexual Pain: 9 Tips and Tricks

Chronic sexual pain is a deeply personal and often misunderstood condition that can profoundly affect an individual’s quality of life, intimate relationships, and mental health.

Navigating this complex issue of chronic sexual pain requires an understanding of its causes, implications, and the available management strategies. In this article we will explore nine practical approaches to managing chronic sexual pain, aiming to provide relief and improve the well-being of those affected.

What Impact Does Chronic Sexual Pain Have?

Pain hurts, no matter which way you look at it. Pain is uncomfortable and distressing. Even the most stoic people, when faced with chronic pain, will find themselves faltering. Given that so much of sexual arousal is directly related to the psychology of a person, it’s no wonder that pain can hamper sex and intimacy.

Pain makes you tired, it makes it hard to concentrate. It makes it hard to feel aroused. In spite of feeling mentally aroused, pain can make it difficult to ascertain that a sexual response has started physically.

Pain can rapidly shut down a sexual response and completely ruin any pleasure one was feeling. Pain can make you hurt so much you can’t continue leaving you feeling like a sexual failure. If all that wasn’t enough, pharmacological treatments for pain can reduce libido, impede the physical sexual response by reducing erections, and can hinder women from producing natural lubrication.

All of these symptoms added together can make you anorgasmic, whereby despite sexual stimulation you are unable to reach climax and orgasm. It feels… nice, but you never really start to climb the crescendo towards the pinnacle of orgasm because you can not maintain the orgasmic feeling.

As a warrior of chronic pain for over 12 years, I’ve personally felt the impact pain has had on my sex life. I’ve felt the sexual failures as I’ve struggled to navigate pain, intimacy and sex. With plenty of patience, compassion and communication it is possible that you and your partner enjoy yourselves with mind-blowing sexual encounters
Chronic sexual pain

9 Methods For Managing Chronic Sexual Pain

1 – If medications help to ease pain levels, ensure you’ve taken these medications with enough time for them to be active prior to sexual encounters to give you the best chance at enjoying yourself. If medications are impeding your arousal and ability to orgasm, speak with your doctor/pain team about alternatives.

2 – Experiment with different positions and use as many objects as needed to ensure you are comfortable at all times. Pillows, cushions, rolled up blankets and towels etc can be used to support whichever positions you find yourselves in. Use lounges, chairs, tables and bench tops to positions yourselves. There is a wonderful range of products designed to help with positioning. The companies Liberator and Sportsheets offer products to help with positioning during sex.

3 – Discover products at Oh Zone Adult Lifestyle Centres that can enhance arousal and shorten time to orgasm. There are products like sexual arousal gels, vibrating adult toys and lubricants.

4 – This point cannot be emphasized enough – Communicate!  To have the best sexual experience it is important to be always open an honest. It’s OK to start a sexual encounter and find yourself not enjoying it and wanting to stop. Let your partner know your sexual needs so that both of you can be flexible and open to your approaches. If you become disinterested with sex, switch from sexual activity to intimacy. Try being close to one another naked, enjoying skin on skin contact. You can also enjoy a massage together as the feeling of closeness and relaxation may make it easier to continue on to have sex.

5 – Create a new definition of what sex means to you and your partner. Sex doesn’t have to mean either of you reach a pinnacle climax or orgasm. If you change your definition of sex to being something like “We deserve to be sexually intimate with one another. Let’s do our best to pleasure each other.”

6 – Change what you think about intimacy and sexual encounters. Perhaps you can wear sexy lingerie and talk dirty whilst your partner admires you and masturbates themselves to orgasm. Relish in non-sexual contact such as hugs and massages. Watch pornography together and masturbate simultaneously. Read aloud from an erotic novel whilst touching each other.

7 – Never underestimate the greatness of the quickie! Quickie will make the experience short and the outcome can be generous for both of you.

8 – Most importantly, look after yourself. Listen to your body and stop if you’re not feeling it. Chronic pain does not make you a sexual failure. You’re a warrior for handling chronic pain. Remember that people without pain have their sexual bad days.

9 – There’s always tomorrow and lots of hugs.

What Causes Chronic Sex Pain?

Chronic sexual pain, medically known as dyspareunia, is a persistent or recurring discomfort experienced before, during, or after sexual intercourse. It’s a common but often unspoken issue, affecting numerous individuals worldwide. The pain may be localized in the genital area, felt externally on the vulva or internally in the vagina, uterus, or pelvis.

1. Causes of Chronic Sexual Pain

Sexual pain can stem from various causes, ranging from physical health conditions to psychological factors. Let’s delve into some of the most common causes of dyspareunia.

1.1 Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

Several STIs like gonorrhea, genital herpes, and chlamydia can lead to pain during intercourse. These infections often cause local inflammation, irritation, or discharge, making sexual activity uncomfortable.

1.2 Vaginal Dryness

Vaginal dryness is a widespread issue affecting women of different ages. It can result from hormonal fluctuations, stress, certain medications, or natural aging processes. The lack of adequate lubrication can lead to discomfort or pain during sex.

1.3 Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a condition where tissue resembling the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterine cavity. This condition can cause severe pain during intercourse and other symptoms like heavy menstrual bleeding and infertility.

1.4 Ovarian Cysts

Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs developing on the ovaries. While many cysts are asymptomatic and resolve independently, some can grow large, causing pelvic pain and discomfort during sex.

1.5 Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

PID is an infection of the female reproductive organs, often resulting from untreated STIs. This condition can lead to significant pain during intercourse and can cause long-term complications if left untreated.

1.6 Vaginismus

Vaginismus involves involuntary contraction of the vaginal muscles. This condition can make penetration painful or impossible, greatly affecting an individual’s sexual health.

1.7 Psychological Factors

Psychological issues like anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem can prevent sexual arousal, leading to discomfort during intercourse. Furthermore, a history of sexual abuse can contribute to sexual pain disorders.

2. Types of Chronic Sexual Pain

Chronic sexual pain can be categorized into different types based on the location and nature of the pain.

2.1 Entry Pain

Also known as superficial dyspareunia, entry pain is felt at the entrance to the vagina during initial penetration. This type of pain is often associated with lack of lubrication, injury, or infection.

2.2 Deep Pain

Known as deep dyspareunia, this type of pain occurs with deep penetration and often worsens in certain sexual positions. Women may feel this pain in the cervix, uterus, or lower abdomen. Conditions like endometriosis, fibroids, or ovarian cysts often cause deep pain.

2.3 Pain from Superficial Genital Contact

Some individuals experience pain from superficial genital contact. This could be due to skin infections, irritation, or other conditions affecting the genital skin.

3. Symptoms of Chronic Sexual Pain

The symptoms of chronic sexual pain may vary depending on the underlying cause. Some common symptoms include:

3.1 Sharp Pain

Sharp pain can occur during penetration or at the entry point. This can be due to insufficient lubrication, an infection, or a physical condition like vaginismus.

3.2 Deep Pain

Deep pain is often experienced during thrusting. This could be a result of conditions affecting the deeper pelvic organs, such as endometriosis or ovarian cysts.

3.3 Throbbing or Aching Pain

Some individuals may experience throbbing or aching pain after intercourse. This could be due to inflammation or infection in the genital area.

3.4 Burning Pain

Burning pain can be a sign of an infection or a skin condition affecting the genital area.

3.5 Pelvic Cramping

Pelvic cramping during or after intercourse can indicate a pelvic disorder, such as endometriosis or pelvic inflammatory disease.

4. Diagnosing Chronic Sexual Pain

Diagnosing chronic sexual pain involves a thorough health history and physical examination. The medical provider will perform various tests based on the patient’s symptoms and medical history.

4.1 Physical Examination

A physical examination could include a pelvic exam, a rectal exam, and a Pap test. The healthcare provider may also collect a sample of vaginal fluid and urine to test for signs of infection.

4.2 Ultrasounds

Transvaginal ultrasound can provide a better view of the female reproductive system, helping identify any abnormalities that might be causing the pain.

4.3 Laparoscopy

Although rare, laparoscopy might be used if other tests are inconclusive. This procedure allows the healthcare provider to view the pelvic organs and detect any abnormalities.

5. Treatment Options for Chronic Sexual Pain

The treatment for chronic sexual pain primarily depends on the underlying cause. Let’s explore some of the common treatment options.

5.1 Hormone Therapy

If vaginal dryness due to low estrogen is the cause of the pain, topical estrogens can be applied to the vagina. Hormone replacement therapy can help restore thickness and elasticity to vaginal skin, reducing discomfort during sex.

5.2 Antibiotics

If the pain is due to an STI or bacterial vaginosis, antibiotics can cure the infection within two weeks, alleviating the pain.

5.3 Antifungal Creams or Tablets

If a yeast infection is causing the pain, the healthcare provider might prescribe a cream or pill to get rid of the fungus.

5.4 Vaginal Lubricants

For women experiencing painful intercourse due to vaginal dryness, water-based lubricants can be beneficial. They can enhance natural lubrication and reduce discomfort during sex.

5.5 Psychological Therapy

For individuals with a history of sexual abuse or trauma, working with a psychologist or licensed therapist can be beneficial. These professionals can provide support and help address the emotional and psychological aspects of sexual pain.

6. When to Seek Medical Attention

Any persistent or distressing pain during sex should not be ignored. It’s crucial to consult a healthcare professional to diagnose the underlying cause of the pain. It’s particularly important to seek medical attention if you experience any spotting or bleeding after painful intercourse.

7. Preventing Chronic Sexual Pain

While it’s not always possible to prevent chronic sexual pain, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk. Practicing safe sex, maintaining good genital hygiene, and addressing any health issues promptly can help prevent conditions that might lead to sexual pain.

8. Living with Chronic Sexual Pain

Living with chronic sexual pain can be challenging, affecting not only your physical health but also your emotional well-being and personal relationships. However, with the right treatment and support, it’s possible to manage the pain and lead a fulfilling sexual life.

9. Importance of Communication

Open communication with your partner about your pain is essential. Discussing what feels good and what causes discomfort can significantly improve the sexual experience and strengthen the bond between partners.

10. The Role of Self-Care With Chronic Sexual Pain

Self-care plays a crucial role in managing discomfort during intimacy. Practices such as pelvic floor exercises, relaxation techniques, and mindfulness can help manage the pain and improve sexual health.

Dealing with chronic sexual pain can be challenging, but it’s essential to remember that you’re not alone. Many individuals experience similar issues, and there’s a wide range of treatments available. Don’t hesitate to seek help if you’re struggling with sexual pain. With the right support and treatment, it’s entirely possible to overcome this issue and enjoy a healthy, fulfilling sex life.

Chronic sexual pain is a complex issue that requires a compassionate and comprehensive approach. By understanding the potential causes, seeking appropriate medical attention, practicing open communication, and taking a holistic approach to treatment, one can embark on a journey towards a healthier, more enjoyable sexual life.

The journey to overcoming sexual pain is not just about addressing a medical condition; it’s about empowering individuals to take control of their sexual health and well-being, leading to a more fulfilling and pain-free intimate life.

By Alicia a consultant from Adult Lifestyle Centres

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