Burning, stinging, sharp stabbing, ripping – these are all words that women use to describe pain that they feel during intercourse. If you experience recurring pain during sex, you’re not alone. According to the Institute for Sexual Wholeness, it is estimated between 8 and 21 percent of all American women experience painful sex. Some of these women are told by their doctors, partners, and friends that the pain isn’t real, that they must be making it up, that something meant to feel good couldn’t possibly hurt that way. The reality is, sexual pain is real and can derail intimacy in a relationship.
If you are one of these women, take heart in knowing there are options for you, and professionals who are trained to help you heal. I’d recommend a few next steps. First, find a gynecologist who understands sexual pain and can be sensitive and gentle during your exams. Second, find a trained sex therapist to walk through the healing process with you and your partner. Third, be patient with yourself. Healing from physical sexual pain takes time and plenty of emotional and physical effort. Don’t walk through this alone! Find a trusted friend who can provide support for you as you take the journey of healing.
If your partner is one of these women, you will play an integral role in the healing process. The best thing you can do is communicate openly about physical and emotional feelings, and actively take part in counseling with her. Validate her feelings, however confusing they might be. Do the homework your counselor gives you – this is not just her burden to carry. You will be a team as you work through this together. Intimacy can be restored.