What Your Painful Sex Might Be Saying About Your Body

By Nicole Charky

Sex doesn’t always look like a film scene. If it were, we’d all be Kate Winslet in the backseat of a damp car with Leo.

For some women, sex can be painful. And although you might not always know when you should see a doctor, there is one clear way to know: if you do feel any pain during sex, Dr. Lisa Valle, D.O. tells Do The Good Stuff.

Valle’s Los Angeles-area practice focuses on how to address pain during sex and make correct adjustments.

Any pain, discomfort during sex is worth seeing a doctor about, she explains, along with any changes in your period, difference in discharge or burning or itchy feelings.

Why Sex Can Hurt

Sex can often hurt when there might be an undiagnosed health condition such as endometriosis, Valle explains.

Endometriosis is a condition in which the tissue usually found inside the uterus instead grows in other unwanted places like the ovaries, fallopian tubes or on tissue lining the pelvis. Women with endometriosis often have pain during sex, which is a very common symptom, along with heavy periods and period pain.

“If you saturate more than a large pad in one hour, feel dizzy, go to the emergency room,” Valle says.

Persistent pain, visible discomfort for days is something that should be addressed by a doctor. It means it’s important to acknowledge the pain and seek medical help. Your body changes each cycle, but it’s important to monitor if those changes are unusual for your body, including changes in discharge or moisture.

“If it burns, feels bad, then you might have a yeast infection and you might need to go to a doctor,” Valle says.

Valle also suggests women have their pelvic floor checked, which could also be connected to discomfort during sex. There can be two types of pelvic floor disorders, including hypotonic or hypertonic.

Hypotonic can be connected to the bladder, constipation and happens after some women have a child. Hypertonic can be connected to painful periods, endometriosis. Valle recommends talking with your doctor if you are experiencing any of these painful symptoms and considering pelvic floor exercises.

Creating rituals to stay healthy can help your sexual health, Valle says. A good way to do that is by having an annual pap smear, which screens for cervical cancer, and an annual exam, which is a visual inspection of your clitoris, vulva, labia, acne, ingrown hairs, skin changes or warts.

It’s recommended that women ages 21-29 have a pap smear every three years. From ages 30-65 a pap smear every five years, 40-44 it’s important to have a mammogram and 55+ each year.