Sex without pain - it's our right. Right?
An American survey, the 'National Survey of Sexual Health and Behaviour' has produced some startling statistics. Described as 'the largest national sex survey ever published', the result included the shocking fact that one in three American women experienced some pain the last time they had sex.
We have to say this worries, as well as shocks us. First, we want to know 'why'?
If a third of men found sex painful, it would be a major public health issue (the figure for men was 5%). So how come a third of women are experiencing this, and it takes a massive nationwide study to find out? And what's being done?
It's everyone's right to experience a healthy and fulfilling sex life. This includes enjoying fun, pleasurable and pain-free sex.
Here's a list of things that can help if you're experiencing pain during sex.
1. Get a check-up
It's worth getting a check-up to rule out a vaginal infection. Better safe than sorry, right?
See a doctor you trust - every GP practice should be able to get you an appointment with a female doctor if you'd prefer to see one. Your doctor can also give you information on sexual health clinics, support groups, and specialists who may be more able to help you.
2. Lube Up
Not enough lubrication can be a cause of pain and discomfort during sex. The list of things that can affect your natural lubrication is long: Stress, tiredness, dehydration, hormones, medication...
Using a quality lube like Lush Pure helps take care of dryness. Lube makes your vulva & vagina everything slick and slippy. It's a gentle lube, so won't unbalance your vaginal ecosystem - but provides a smoother, more sensual experience!
3. Check your protection
Condoms, dental dams and latex gloves are vital safer-sex supplies. However, a latex allergy can cause pain during or after sex, so it's worth trying non-latex products to see if this changes anything.
4. Take your time
Women's arousal generally builds slower than men's (if you have a male or penis-owning partner).
Taking the time to become really turned on is worth it. The more you warm up, the more you'll feel relaxed and in the mood for sex play. Kiss, touch and play with a vibrator before any penetration takes place.
5. Keep talking
It's not the easiest subject to raise, but telling your lover that you're experiencing pain can be a relief.
Your partner may not have picked up on your discomfort, so hopefully appreciates you bringing it up. We suggest talking about this sensitive topic outside of the bedroom. Together you can work out what you need to do to keep sex pain-free - from finding positions that suit you to looking into buying lube or toys.
6. Look after you
Your brain is your biggest sex organ and the mind does have a profound influence on physical experiences and the process of arousal. Dealing with painful sex can bring up emotional issues, so it's worth considering your past experiences, your history with sex and whether they could affect your responses. Speaking to a doctor or a counsellor can be helpful.
Take time for self-care - and enjoy it!
We recommend a quiet night with a favourite vibrator, a much-loved dildo, or whatever you fancy. Make it a date and seduce yourself... Don't focus on the goal (pain-free penetration with a partner). Instead, go with the flow and enjoy playtime. Once you're confidently having fun solo, it's much easier to involve your partner so you can show them what you like.
8. You are not alone
The Vulval Pain Society is a fantastic support group, so look them up. You can also contact a GP, a support group, a specialist, or a therapist.