By Eve Marx
It’s a shock when it happens. You’re in bed. You’re with your partner. There’s been some foreplay and he’s about to enter you. Insertion is a bit difficult. You wonder if you should have used a lube. You try it, the going isn’t much easier than it was before. You tense up. His penis is inside you and the motions are familiar, but instead of pleasure, what you’re feeling is hurt. He asks if he should keep going, and you say of course. When it’s over you’re relieved. This happens a few times. Now you don’t want to have sex anymore.
Painful intercourse is a common problem among women, especially women who are menopausal or post-menopausal. While there are many women who say that age and menopause have had no effect on their libido or their ability to self lubricate, many others find that vaginal dryness and thinning of the vaginal walls and tissue make intercourse too painful to contemplate. Even a vaginal exam by their doctor is something they learn to dread. Why? Because many women as they age, experience profound loss of lubrication and thinning of the interior tissue of the vagina. Together, these two situations create a new situation where intercourse can become out of the question. If you’re in a relationship, this physical problem can cause big problems for intimacy.
There are a number of over-the-counter products that can help. Sweet almond oil, found in any health food store, is a natural lubricant that works better than most commercial products. The oil can be applied directly with your fingertips to the vagina and labia and penis right before and during intercourse. A few drops should also be applied daily to the affected areas to aid lubrication and fight discomfort. A dry vagina is a tight and sometimes painful vagina, with or without the addition of intercourse. The pain might present itself as an interior pinch or painful itch that can make a woman uncomfortable all day long.
Painful intercourse resulting from a dry and thinning vaginal walls (the interior skin can actually tear from the friction of intercourse, resulting in more pain, even slight bleeding) can also be addressed through your doctor, who most likely will prescribe hormone replacement therapy. Many women swear by HRT or bio-identical hormones, but there is a risk. Introducing estrogen and testosterone into the system has been linked to some cancers. While considered miracle drugs by many, any hormone treatment should be undertaken with caution and thoroughly discussed with your physician.
Painful intercourse will throw a monkey wrench into even the best and closest intimate relationships. You and your partner may feel upset, depressed, angry. Depending on the severity of the pain and your reluctance to engage in physical intimacy, you may need to speak with a counselor or therapist together to work through this transition in your personal dynamic.
The good news is that there are solutions. Quite often a daily or thrice weekly regime of applying lubrication, making love, or self pleasuring with a personal massager is all that’s needed to restore lubrication and elasticity. Or HRT’s will be the curative direction you’ll choose. Any doctor will tell you that this is definitely a case of “use it or lose it.” The more of a workout you give your vagina, the better it will feel.
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Eve Marx, M.A., is a sexpert and author of “101 Things You Didn’t Know About Sex,” and “The Goddess Orgasm.” Her new novel, “Beddington Place,” is now available on Amazon.com.