As part of my gynecological intake, I ask women about pain with intercourse because women often do not report pain with intercourse to their medical providers. There are many possible reasons for this but the one that concerns me the most is that many women are told that it’s “normal” to have pain with intercourse at a certain age or after childbirth. As my colleague, Anne Procyk, ND says, “it may be common but it is not normal.”
Pain with Intercourse is Common, but Not Normal
Pain with intercourse is very common. I have read estimates that range from ten to thirty-five percent of women experience persistent pain with intercourse. If we looked at only women in the two years after childbirth or over fifty, I’m sure the percentages would be even higher.
You may think there is nothing you can do about pain with intercourse besides surgery or hormonal treatments. In fact, there are many options including these:
- Vitamin E applied topically, alone or in combination with herbs, is very helpful for supporting the elasticity and natural lubrication of vaginal tissue.
- Breathing exercises help to open up the muscles of the pelvic floor because the pelvic floor follows the diaphragm. The most simple of these breathing exercises is to take a deep belly breath and feel your pelvic floor relaxing and stretching. People often hold tension in their pelvic floor so doing this exercise at times of stress a few times per day will prevent muscles from being chronically tight. (See Tami Kent’s book The Wild Feminine for more information about visualization and breathing exercises for the pelvic floor.)
- Releasing tight muscles of the pelvic floor through massage can reduce pain with intercourse the same way a back massage relieves back pain. This can be done yourself (just find the places that hurt and gently stretch those muscles) or with the help of a provider trained in Holistic Pelvic care like myself. Women usually notice relief after just one treatment and can learn how to repeat that treatment whenever needed.
The good news here is you do not have to live with painful intercourse! Contact me to schedule an appointment.