Pain during sex – what might this be telling you?

Pain During Sex: What does this really mean?

Pain during sex – what might this be telling you?

Pain during sex is not uncommon. A recent video by Sally Turner and Sabine Tyrvainen of Women4Real[i] reports that 3.2 million women in the UK are affected by vulvodynia, a chronic pain condition that affects the outer genital area during intercourse.

Statistics on how many women are affected by pain during intercourse reveal these problems vary from a sharp pain, a stinging sensation, to deeper pain experienced. Experts indicate that the figures can be much higher than we know, because many women don’t seek medical help for such conditions.

The medical journal for The American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists[ii], reported that 3 out of 4 women would experience painful intercourse at some point in their lives.

This is a large number of women, and if women are not forthcoming in seeking medical help, it begs the question – why aren’t they?

Coping Mechanisms

The video by Women4Real ‘Painful Sex versus Normal Sex’, discusses possible ‘solutions’ for women who suffer from painful sex, suggesting sexual alternatives that create a soothing, vibrating or lubricating of the area. The narrator also points out that partners of women who experience pain during sex can be equally affected.

But have we, as women, actually considered what might be causing the pain in the first place? The solutions offered are all about ensuring the woman is able to get on with her sex life without the inconvenience of the pain she is feeling – but is this really honouring the woman and her body?

Furthermore, what is not discussed is how many women who experience pain during sex harbour feelings of shame of not being ‘good enough’ and of letting down their partner. Many women have difficulty opening up about their concerns, being unsure of who to turn to, and thus it becomes much easier to ‘manage’ the problem with quick-fix solutions ... and perhaps even deny that the pain is there.

Hence the importance of looking at what may be the root cause of pain during sex. Why is it that as per the statistics noted above, an extremely high number of women experience painful sexual intercourse during their lifetime?

Our Longing for Intimacy

Could it be that as women, many of us have bought into the idea that intimacy with our partners comes to fruition or gets confirmed as being the case ‘when we have sex’?

And that if sex is painful, not only are we letting our partners down if we ‘don’t have sex’, but we’re also not able to then get the closeness and intimacy we yearn for?

The trouble is, if we are not fully at ease with ourselves and our partner, i.e. fully open and honestly speaking up if the sex hurts in any way, then the sexual act is just this – an ‘act’ that is only dishonouring of us. And without honouring through expressing our feelings, how can we really enjoy the full intimacy we seek with our partners?

Intimacy implies there to be full trust between people. If we are not openly communicating what is going on for us during lovemaking for fear of disappointing our partner, how can we build this needed trust?

If we don’t honour whatever pain or discomfort we may feel during sex, we are only likely to create more distance rather than closeness between ourselves and our partner – as the ‘making of love’ is a deeply sacred and intimate act that allows for open communication as to what we may be feeling, even when something feels ‘not right’.

Pain during Sex – A Way to Build a Deeper Relationship

Feeling pain during sex therefore can be an opportunity for the woman to honour that something is not as it should be:

  • It may indicate a health issue that needs medical attention
  • It could be a signal that there isn’t the necessary connection for the woman and the man to truly open up to each other, and therefore could this mean that our bodies are ‘closing up’ in response??
  • It could also be an indication that there is still the trauma of an unpleasant sexual experience, including the horror of sexual abuse, being held in the body.

As women, pain during sex is something to listen to every single time ... and stop. It is a time to express to our partner how we are feeling, claiming it not as ‘a woman who can’t service her man’, but as a woman who is honouring her body first.

That communication is sacred

It gives both the man and woman the opportunity to connect deeper within themselves and with each other as to what might be causing the pain. As we do that, the body heals and the pain may naturally subside.

In that honesty and honouring of our bodies, we build deeper and deeper trust with ourselves and our partners, opening up to the intimacy we yearn for.

The act of sex through making love is about the true honouring of a man and woman in deep connection with themselves and with each other.

In accepting and listening to any pain during sex, we have as women a powerful opportunity to heal our bodies and claim true love-making with our chosen partners. This, and the preciousness felt within our bodies, is something to deeply celebrate and cherish.


  • [i]

    Women4Real. Retrieved from

  • [ii]

    The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Frequently Asked Questions Gynecologic Problems FAQ020. May 2011. Retrieved from

Filed under

SexMaking loveHealth conditionsRelationshipsPainIntimacy

  • By Katerina Nikolaidis, MA Hons PG Dip

    Change management professional and health & well-being practitioner, with a love for people and a fascination about life. There is so much more to us than we realise.

  • Photography: Dean Whitling, Brisbane based photographer and film maker of 13 years.

    Dean shoots photos and videos for corporate portraits, architecture, products, events, marketing material, advertising & website content. Dean's philosophy - create photos and videos that have magic about them.