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  • Dr. Stephanie Perez

Pain with sex is NOT normal


I have a soapbox about painful intercourse. It frustrates me as a pelvic floor physical therapist when I work with women who have pain with sex and have already seen a medical provider who has not tried to help them or who gave them bad advice.


No, you don’t need to have a glass of wine in order to have sex with your partner.


Pain with sex is NOT normal. Painful intercourse can have many causes. It can be during initial penetration, with deep penetration, or can come on afterwards. When there has been perineal trauma during childbirth like tearing or episiotomy, this will lead to scar tissue that is sensitive and restrictive, which can be painful when touched or stretched. After a C-section, the scar at the abdomen can be sensitive and restrictive which can create deep pelvic floor pain or abdominal discomfort. You can experience pain with intercourse and have never birthed children. Often this pain is associated with a burning sensation at the vaginal opening, called the introitus. Sometimes the pain can be deep pelvic pain, or lower abdominal pain and can be associated with endometriosis or PCOS.


Some women experience pain with pelvic exams at OBGYN appointments. This is also NOT normal. Many patients will report being made to feel like it is an inconvenience that they are painful with the exam, or physicians will be rough or even forceful, saying they “have to get it done” and that “it shouldn’t hurt,” which afterwards will then be told, “everything looks normal.”


Here are some examples of what is WRONGFULLY being told to women when they report that they are having pain with sex: relax more, take a bath, use more lube, do more kegels, drink more wine. One patient was actually told to drink an entire bottle of wine so that she could tolerate having sex with her husband. Listen to me! Do not be dismissed by your health provider. If you are having pain with intercourse and are told that everything is “normal” and are not referred to pelvic floor therapy, it’s time to find a new provider. It is their job to help fix the cause of the issue, or refer you to someone who can help you more specifically.


Rant over.


Take care and be well,


~Dr. Steph


Empowered Wellness helps women who have pain with intercourse. If you are experiencing this challenge, we can help. Schedule your free consultation here: www.empoweredwellnesspt.com


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