SEX should be an enjoyable experience, but for some people it can be painful.
While you might feel embarrassed to go to your GP and talk about issues that occur beneath the sheets, it’s nothing to get red-faced about.
Getty Images – GettyIf you’re in pain after having sex then it could be due to a number of reasons[/caption]
Speaking to The Sun, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at London-based MyHealthcare Clinic, Dr Shree Datta said she often sees women who are experiencing pain during intercourse but feel embarrassed to talk about it.
She highlighted a paper which was published in the International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, which found that nearly one in ten British women experience pain during sex.
Dr Datta said: “There are many reasons why sex might be painful.
“I think women really struggle to seek help when experiencing pain during sex.
“The important message here is that if you’re suffering with frequent pain then you should speak to a doctor.”
Dr Datta has outlined the seven common reasons as to why you might be bleeding during sex and when you should seek medical attention.
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1. After childbirth
Having a child is an amazing experience but it takes a huge toll on a woman’s physical and mental health.
If you’ve had a natural birth and not a c-section then Dr Datta said it’s likely you may have experienced some tears.
She explained: “These can take around 6 to 12 weeks to heal. But even beyond that, new mums can experience discomfort for up to six months.
“After childbirth the vagina may feel more swollen and may be more sensitive to touch or pressure. This should improve over time.
“If you are struggling with pain, speak to a health professional to check any stitches are healing properly.”
Dr Datta said that sometimes manual massage can help with nerve sensitivity, after the initial healing.
She added: “It’s also important not to rush into anything. Take things at your own speed, it’s perfectly normal to feel tired and have a lower libido after having a baby.”
2. An infection
Dr Datta said that one of the most common reasons for pain during sex is an infection.
This could be an infection like thrush or a sexually transmitted infection such as chlamydia.
Dr Datta said: “An infection can make sex feel really uncomfortable and sore. If you think you are suffering from thrush then over-the-counter medication is available.
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“If you think you might have a sexually transmitted infection, speak to your GP, see your gynaecologist or a health professional at your local GUM clinic who will be able to diagnose and provide treatment.
“Getting an infection sorted early is really important, as some may lead to long-term problems if untreated, so please don’t delay speaking to someone.”
The menopause usually affects women in later life and creates hormonal changes in the body.
These changes can cause more dryness in intimate areas and can make sex feel uncomfortable. A loss of libido is also common.
Dr Datta said: “Oestrogen and progesterone levels drop during the menopause so it’s very common for women to experience vaginal dryness.
“Because of many other symptoms, such as a lower libido, night sweats which can cause problems sleeping, and a low mood, sex can become much less pleasurable during this time.
“Talk to your GP about ways you can manage your symptoms.”
4. Lack of arousal
Sometimes it might take a bit longer than normal to help you get aroused.
Dr Datta said that sex can be painful if you’re not fully aroused as muscles are tense and you might be a little drier.
If you need help in that department then you can talk to your partner about when helps you get aroused or even try a lubricant.
Dr Datta added: “Changes to libido are common but there may be an emotional reason why you don’t find sex as pleasurable as you once did.
“Counsellors or sex therapists can help you through these problems.”
Vaginismus is a condition where muscles around the vagina contract and can make penetration impossible, this can be both distressing and frustrating.
Dr Datta said: “Vaginismus is an automatic reaction which you have no control over. If you experience difficulties with penetration, struggle to insert a tampon or suffer from pain or stinging during sex, these could be symptoms.”
Experts have previously said that endometriosis is one of the conditions medical professionals find the most difficult to diagnose.
Dr Datta said that for some women, pain during sex can be a sign of endometriosis.
She added: “Other symptoms can include painful periods or lower abdominal pain.
In these cases, she states: “On average, women can wait 8 years before being diagnosed with endometriosis – so speak to your GP and ask for a referral to your gynaecologist early”
If you’re feeling a bit uncomfortable down there and sex is painful then it could be down to allergies caused by certain products – such as latex condoms.
Dr Datta said: “General irritation can be caused by many products, even down to the type of underwear and soap we use.
“Latex condoms and spermicides can also provoke an allergic reaction. If you’re suffering from general pain, discomfort or itching, speak to a doctor who will examine you and be able to help.”