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Why Does Sex Hurt

Sex Ed

Why Does Sex Hurt

My girlfriend and I have just recently started having sex, and she complains of the pain every time during penetration. Am not sure if she is too small or if I am too big for her as this is causing some frustration for us. Is there anything we can do?

Pain during intercourse can be caused by a number of factors: hormone levels, pelvic floor health, and built up tension causing painful sensations during sex. There are also two types of pain: acute and chronic. You want to make sure your girlfriend rules out any medical or physiological cause of the pain.

I would recommend she make an appointment with her OB/GYN for a pelvic exam. Pain can be caused by nerve problems, endometriosis, and even medications with sexual side effects (such as birth control, chronic antibiotic use, acne medications, and even antidepressants). If there is no medical concern causing the pain, I would recommend a series of exercises to help your girlfriend feel more comfortable during sex and learn to relax her body, engage her pelvic floor, learn to self-stimulate to build the mind/body connection, and prime her body for pain-free sex.

The first step is to have your girlfriend start self-stimulating and experiencing solo pleasure. Self-pleasure increases blood flow to the genitals, which helps alleviate pain and tightness during sex. It also increases pelvic floor strength that will allow for better orgasms and improvement in partnered sex. The vagina is a muscle that can be stretched and exercised to allow for different sexual activities. If it can stretch and adapt to childbirth, it can accommodate any size of penis during partnered sex.

I would also recommend spending more time on foreplay to ensure she is getting enough time for arousal to take place. It takes a good twenty minutes for a woman’s body to become fully aroused. This state of arousal will allow for more comfortable sexual positions and play while giving her the most pleasure. Take your time during partnered sex and start with using your hands. Caress, rub, and stimulate her body first with hands and fingers.

When you start with penetration make sure she is adequately lubricated and in a comfortable position. Be supportive of your girlfriend as she deals with addressing the pain. It can affect self-esteem and body image. Research shows that the more you focus on the pain, the more intense your perception of the pain. Be supportive and learn to focus outside of sex and intercourse for the time being. I suggest sensual massage, kissing, and outer-course (pleasuring the body outside of the genitals).

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Dr. Shannon Chavez is a licensed clinical psychologist and sex therapist with an expertise in female sexual health. She works with women of all ages and backgrounds helping guide them from sexual concerns to sexual empowerment. Read the rest of her profile below and follow her on Facebook at Dr.Shannon.Chavez


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Shannon Chavez

Dr. Shannon Chavez is a licensed clinical psychologist and sex therapist with an expertise in female sexual health. She works with women of all ages and backgrounds helping guide them from sexual concerns to sexual empowerment. Dr. Chavez believes that the heart of sexual intimacy is connection. Her work with couples focuses on adult sex education, intimacy issues, mindful sex therapy, and reconnection through self-exploration, discovery and personal growth. She also specializes in the treatment of sexual trauma and abuse, sexual dysfunction, and compulsive behaviors surrounding love, romance, and relationships. Dr. Chavez has written a guide for clinicians on the treatment of love addiction through the use of attachment-oriented therapy. She completed her professional training in Beverly Hills, California where she attained a postdoctoral fellowship in sexual health treatment. She holds a doctorate in clinical psychology and master’s degree in marriage and family therapy. She is an active member of the Institute for the Scientific Study of Women’s Sexual Health (ISSWSH), the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT), the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS), and the American Psychological Association. Dr. Chavez currently has a private practice in Beverly Hills, California and uses a mind-body approach to sexual health wellness and a treatment approach that integrates both physical and psychological needs. Her passion is sexual awareness and education through teaching, workshops, and writing. She has been featured in Cosmopolitan, Women’s Health, Latino Perspectives, and Self Magazines; and is a frequent contributor to the website SheKnows.com. She has also appeared on national news and radio as an expert on sexuality and women’s health.

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