Pain during sex isn’t normal, but it’s not inevitable. If you’re experiencing pain during penetration, there are several things you can do to help make it more comfortable.
Using lubricants can help, as can foreplay. Some people also find that certain positions are more comfortable, or that they get turned on more easily by sex toys and props.
1. Take it slow.
While pain during sex is incredibly common (the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says it affects up to three out of four women), that doesn’t mean you should just deal with it. You deserve happy, healthy sex, and there are ways to get there that won’t cause you discomfort.
For starters, don’t rush into sex before you’re ready. That will only lead to pain, especially if you’re not feeling turned on enough. Try doing pre-sex rituals, like making out and kissing, to raise your sexual arousal.
If you’re still feeling pain during sex, try changing positions or using a different type of manual stimulation. Increasing your foreplay and using lubricants can also make things more comfortable.
If the pain is constant or severe, talk to your partner and a doctor about it. While occasional minor soreness is normal, recurring or persistent pain may be a sign of a medical problem that needs to be addressed. It’s not worth it to have sex that hurts. And if it’s not pleasurable for both of you, there are plenty of other ways to feel intimate with your partner, like oral sex, masturbation, and touch.
2. Change your position.
Although pain during sex is very common, it’s not always necessary. Some women experience pain during sex due to positions that don’t feel right, pressure or speed that’s too much, or from gynecologic conditions such as vaginismus and vulvodynia. If you’re experiencing pain during sex, try experimenting with different positions to see what feels better.
Some positions can segue into others easily, such as a cowgirl position that can quickly become reverse cowgirl with a sweep of the leg or a seated position that can move into missionary by simply leaning back. Experimenting with different combinations of moves can also keep the action flowing and help you reach orgasm faster.
Another way to ease pain during penetration is by adjusting the angle of penetration. For example, if you’re having trouble with deep thrusting, try facing your partner and hooking one of your legs around theirs (like spooning) for support. This position can allow you to rub your clitoris against your partner for added pleasure and may reduce pain. You can also try lying on your side and bending your knees to bring the pelvic area closer together, which may help limit penetration depth.
3. Use lubricants.
If you haven’t tried lubricant before, it can be a game-changer. Personal lubricants reduce friction between your anal or vaginal tissue and your partner or sex toy. They can also increase pleasure and decrease pain during penetrative sex, masturbation, or anal play.
Lube is especially useful if you have a drier vulva or vagina (from medications, low fluid intake, menopause, or other factors). It’s also a good idea to use lube with condoms since it can help prevent breakage. Choose a water-based lubricant for your vaginal area or anal region, and opt for oil-free lubes to avoid irritating your genitals or skin.
If you and your partner are trying to conceive, look for a fertility-friendly lube that doesn’t decrease sperm motility. And try using the Cross My Heart technique to promote circulation and encourage natural lubrication. Finally, make sure to communicate with your partner about what feels good or bad. You can even start a little competition and see who can get to their target fastest! Or, try positioning changes like woman-on-top, which gives you more control over the speed and depth of penetration.
4. Talk it out.
If you are having pain with sex it doesn’t hurt to let your partner know. It will help him to have an idea of what you want. If you need it harder or softer or just to move a bit to the left then say so. It will make it a better experience for both of you.
Talking about sex isn’t easy for anyone. Even with practice, it can feel awkward at first. It’s important to find a time when you and your partner are not busy and where you can have the conversation without interruptions. It’s also a good idea to discuss this topic before you get intimate so your partner is prepared.
If you aren’t comfortable using the word “sex” or any euphemisms, then try saying something like “making love” or “being intimate.” It is also important to talk about STIs and make sure your partner has undergone testing. And always use protection, no matter how long you have been together! Finally, remember that a lot of communication is done through body language and tone of voice.
You might already do this before sex, but it’s worth repeating: Relaxing before sex can help you feel more relaxed during it. It can also help you communicate better. If you can’t talk, try giving each other massages or working out nonverbal communication signals like squeezing their arm to signal you need more attention or if you’re feeling uncomfortable.
It’s also important to remember that it’s normal to get distracted during sex. And that’s okay! Instead of getting frustrated with yourself for losing focus, try to reconnect with your body by focusing on your breathing. According to MindyBodyGreen, this technique can help you calm your mind and bring yourself back into the moment.
Finally, it’s important to accept that some people don’t feel sexually aroused or ready for sex at all. If that’s the case for you, don’t force yourself to do it. It’s best to practice being comfortable turning down sex until you’re in the right mood for it.