9 ways to make sex less painful

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Sex should not be painful.

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Feeling some sort of physical pain during intercourse is incredibly common — according to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, nearly three out of four women experience painful sex at some point in their lives.

Though it might make you feel slightly better to know you’re not alone, this fact likely offers little comfort when you’re in the middle of a sexual encounter and things just aren’t feeling right. Whether you’re dealing with muscle aches due to a position that doesn’t work for your body, irritation or burning on your skin, or a gynecologic condition like vaginismus or vulvodynia, there are definitely ways to help ease your pain so you can enjoy the pain-free, happy sex you deserve.

Here are nine ways you can make sex less painful.

1. Take things slowly — very slowly.

Foreplay is important.

Some people can just go right into sex as soon as the opportunity presents itself, but others require lots of foreplay before they’re ready to go. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, but if you start having sex before you’re adequately turned on, you might feel pain, especially when it comes to penis in vagina intercourse.

“Many women think that if they feel excited, then they’re ready for sex,” Debby Herbenick, Ph.D., associate director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University, told Women’s Health magazine in 2014. “But your body needs time to lift the uterus and make room for the vagina to expand. The latter can stretch from four inches long to a fully aroused seven inches.”

Quickies are great under the right circumstances, but if you rush into the main attraction without enjoying some previews before the show, you might feel pain, soreness, or irritation down below, so be sure to slow things down as needed. Herbenick recommended 20 minutes of foreplay to adequately prepare your body.

2. Be sure you’re using enough lubrication.

Vaginal dryness is common.

Although you still need to be sure that your body is ready for sex before your partner enters you, vaginal dryness can occur even if you’re fully ready to go. This is where lube comes in, so you’ll want to snag a silicone- or water-based lubricant, particularly one without harsh chemicals or fragrances so that you won’t risk irritating your genitals or skin.

There are no shortage of great lubricants for sex out there, but after you’ve found the one that works for you, you might want to look into the reason you’re feeling dry down below. Dryness can be caused by a slew of medications, including birth control pills, allergy medications, antidepressants, and even over-the-counter cold medicines, as well as soaps, and even smoking cigarettes, so check with your doctor.

Everyday Health also noted that vaginal dryness can happen due to a drop in estrogen levels, which happens at certain points of your menstrual cycle, if you’ve recently given birth, are breastfeeding, or are going through menopause.

Also, if you’re bathing in hot water pre-sex, you could be inadvertently drying out vaginal tissue. Checking with your doctor about any discomfort due to dryness is always the best option.

3. Check for allergies or other health conditions.

You could have a latex allergy.

If you’re feeling itchiness, burning, or irritation down below, you could be dealing with a number of health issues, so you’ll want to check with your doctor.

An itchy rash or hives can be symptoms of a latex allergy, as can vaginal irritation or burning. As Jonathan Schaffir, M.D., an OB-GYN at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, told SELF magazine in 2016, “it is also possible to have a more severe form of allergy that leads to anaphylaxis, which involves system-wide swelling, dropping blood pressure, and difficulty breathing. That would be rare, but needs immediate medical attention.”

But acute reactions aside, latex allergies aren’t a huge deal, and you can safely switch to polyurethane condoms without issue. Still, pain, itchiness or irritation can be signs of other health conditions, including a yeast infection, STIs, vaginismus, vulvodynia, or an ovarian cyst, so paying a visit to your doctor is never a bad idea.

4. Try a different position.

Some positions may hurt more than others.

Unfortunately, some sex positions are more likely to cause pain during sex than others, which means you might need to get creative. Positions that allow for deep thrusting (such as doggie style) are often more painful for women, while those that allow the woman more control of the pace (such as woman-on-top, missionary, or side-by-side spooning) are often helpful if you’re experiencing painful sex.

Experiment with different positions to see which ones feel the most comfortable for you and your body.

5. Change things up completely.

Props are your friend.

If you’ve tried different positions but are still experiencing discomfort, Health suggested using props, pillows, or toys to make things feel better. Pillows are great to help align your body in a more comfortable position, and there are no shortage of sex toys and props out there to help alleviate any tension or stress in your muscles and joints. Getting a bit creative can help you explore new options while also helping to reduce pain.

6. Create a relaxing, sex-positive environment.

Clear your mind.

For many people, it can be hard to fully relax and enjoy the moment, which leads to tension in our bodies as we are having sex. So doing some things to help yourself feel connected in the moment is a great way to have more pleasurable sex.

Relaxation looks different for everyone, but some helpful tips include keeping a space free of clutter and mess, so you won’t be worried about getting cozy on top of a pile of clothes. Playing relaxing music, lighting candles, and keeping a comfortable temperature and linens might sound like a scene from a cheesy romance novel, but these things can all truly help you feel more at ease and able to be more present in the moment.

Trying out different mindfulness techniques can also help, and MindyBodyGreen reports that plenty of people enjoy meditation or breathing techniques to help their brain stay present and connected. Most of us lead such busy, hectic lifestyles that it can be hard to truly disconnect and enjoy sex, which could unknowingly be causing you pain or discomfort.

Meditation is a proven stress reliever, and research shows that when your body is producing too much of the stress hormone cortisol, it can be hard to get aroused. When you meditate, you’re naturally lowering the levels of cortisol in your body, which can help your mental health both in the sheets and outside of them.

7. Take a break from intercourse.

There are other ways to have intimacy.

It might sound obvious, but pain can often be a signal that your body needs a break, so it won’t hurt to listen to your body and explore other options for a little while. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy other forms of intimacy — if you haven’t enjoyed a makeout session in a long time, it can be a surprisingly fun way to keep the spark alive without the worries of pain down below.

Sometimes, all it takes is a little exploration of your bodies to figure out what works best — without pressure to climax or have a full-on sex session. It’s entirely possible you’re trying to have too much sex, which is especially common in the early stages of a relationship.

You should never push through pain or something that doesn’t feel right — forcing yourself to do something you’re not enjoying is not okay, so taking notice of your body and brain during sex is crucial.

8. Communication is key, so you’ll want to speak openly with your partner.

When you talk about it, you can take some of the scariness away.

No matter the reason you’re experiencing pain during sex, talking it out with your partner is a great way to help get you to a place where you’re both enjoying sex … without wincing in pain.

No one deserves to engage in sexual activity that makes them feel pain or discomfort, so sitting down with your partner is a good way to brainstorm solutions to help you both feel great. Maybe it’s a matter of changing up the speed or pace of sex, or you’re hoping to try new things.

Experimenting and giving honest feedback is never a bad idea, but it’s especially important if things haven’t been feeling right.

Also, if you have experienced sexual abuse of any kind, it can be understandably difficult to enjoy sex. It’s entirely up to you whether you discuss your feelings with your partner and when, but know this: your feelings are absolutely valid, and you have every right to discontinue sexual activity at any point, no matter the reason.

9. Be honest with yourself about what you want.

It may not be sex.

Our bodies are all different, and we all have different wants and needs, especially when it comes to sex. People of all genders are entitled to the sexual experiences they want, but it’s also OK if you’re not interested in sex right now or ever.

Pop culture might have you think that people want to have sex all the time, but there are plenty of reasons you might not want to, and they’re all perfectly valid.

New moms are often given the green light for sex around six weeks after giving birth, but not all people who give birth are ready right away, thanks to a drop in estrogen levels and healing scar tissue after giving birth. If you’re simply not ready for sex, there’s nothing wrong with that.

If you’re recovering from illness or trauma, or simply don’t enjoy sex and think you might identify as asexual, you have every right to explore your feelings without forcing yourself to have painful sex. Talking with your partner can help, as can seeking the advice of a doctor or therapist you trust. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do sexually, no matter what movies or porn might suggest to the contrary.

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8 Things Doctors Wish You Knew About Dyspareunia, AKA Painful Sex

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Yup, we mean the bad kind of pain.

Pop culture’s depictions of sex typically focus on the romantic, the salacious, and (in some refreshing cases) the embarrassing.

But one thing that’s still rarely mentioned—both on screen and IRL—is pain during sex (also known as dyspareunia), or the shame, confusion, and stigma that often accompany it. (And we’re not talking about the good, consensual kind of pain during sex, FYI, we’re talking about sex that hurts when you don’t intend it to.)

While dyspareunia may be absent from many sexual-health discussions, it’s not rare, and it’s certainly nothing to be ashamed of. Here, doctors walk us through what they wish more people knew about painful sex:

1. Unfortunately, pain during intercourse isn’t that rare. In fact, it’s really common.

Nearly 75 percent of women will experience pain during sex at some point in their lives, according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG). Sometimes, this pain will be a one-time thing. Other times, it will be more persistent.

2. The thing is, sex isn’t supposed to hurt unless you want it to.

Some people accept painful sex as the norm, but it shouldn’t be. “The most crucial thing for women to know is that pain during or after intercourse is never really OK,” Antonio Pizarro, M.D., a Louisiana-based gynecologist specializing in pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery, tells SELF. There are, of course, some circumstances in which someone might seek out some level of pain during sex. But there’s a difference between a sexual kink and undesired, severe, or persistent pain in the vulva, vagina, or pelvis.

3. Minor soreness during or after sex and intense, chronic pain are not the same thing.

There are tons of reasons you might be sore after sex, Natasha Chinn, M.D., a New Jersey-based gynecologist, tells SELF. They include inadequate lubrication, penetration with a particularly large object or body part, and sex that was especially rough or fast.

If these are minor issues you only encounter every now and then, Dr. Chinn says you can usually pinpoint the cause of the problem and address it on your own (use more lube, seek out smaller sex toys, or have slower, more gentle sex). (Of course, you can go straight to seeing a doctor if you prefer.)

But what if your problem isn’t an every-now-and-then thing? If these issues are happening every time you have sex, happening more frequently than they used to, or if they’re not going away after you try to address them on your own, your painful-sex cause might be more complicated.

4. Unfortunately, there are a ton of health conditions—like endometriosis, cervicitis, and vaginismus—that can lead to painful sex.

Some of these include:

  • Contact dermatitis: a fancy medical name for an allergic reaction on the skin—and yes, that includes the skin on your vulva. This can happen if, say, the delicate skin around your vagina doesn’t react well to a soap, body wash, or detergent you’re using. Contact dermatitis can leave your skin cracked and uncomfortable, and chances are that any kind of sex you’re having while you’re experiencing this reaction is going to be pretty painful.
  • Cervicitis: a condition where the cervix, or lower end of the uterus connecting to the vagina, becomes inflamed, typically due to a sexually transmitted infection. While it often presents without symptoms, Dr. Pizarro cautions that it sometimes causes pain during urination or intercourse.
  • Endometriosis: a condition associated with pelvic pain, painful periods, and pain during or after sex. While the exact cause of endometriosis is not well understood, it seems to be the result of endometrial tissue (or similar tissue that’s able to create its own estrogen) growing outside of the uterus, which can cause pain, scarring, and inflammation. This can lead to pain that’s sometimes worse around your period, when going to the bathroom, and even during sex.
  • Ovarian cysts: fluid-filled sacs found in or on the ovaries. Sometimes they don’t cause any symptoms, but other times they rupture, causing pain and bleeding, including during sex.
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID): this condition is typically caused when bacteria from a sexually transmitted infection spreads to the reproductive organs. PID can cause pain in the abdomen or pelvis, pain during urination, pain during intercourse, and even infertility if left untreated.
  • Uterine fibroids: noncancerous growths in or on the uterus. Fibroids often don’t cause symptoms, but they can make themselves known via heavy menstrual bleeding and pelvic pressure or pain, during sex or otherwise.
  • Vaginismus: a condition that causes the muscles of the vagina to spasm and contract. This can lead to pain during sex—or even make any form of vaginal penetration impossible, whether it’s sexual or just inserting a tampon.
  • Vaginitis: an umbrella term for disorders that inflame the vaginal area. Examples include bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections, both of which occur when the balance of microorganisms in the vagina gets thrown off, causing some kind of bacterial or fungal overgrowth. Other forms of vaginitis are sexually transmitted infections such as trichomoniasis (an STI caused by a parasite), chlamydia, and gonorrhea. All three of these infections are characterized by changes in vaginal discharge, vaginal irritation, and, in some cases, pain during intercourse.
  • Vulvodynia: a condition charactized by chronic pain at the opening of the vagina. Common symptoms include burning, soreness, stinging, rawness, itching, and pain during sex, Dr. Chinn says, and it can be devastating. According to the Mayo Clinic, vulvodynia consists of pain that lasts for at least three months that has no other identifiable cause.

Dr. Chinn says that women going through menopause might also experience pain during sex as a result of vaginal dryness that happens due to low estrogen levels.

People who recently gave birth may also grapple with discomfort during sex, Dr. Chinn says. It takes time for the vagina to heal after pushing out a baby, and scar tissue could develop and make sex painful.

5. There are so many other things that can mess with your sexual response, making sex uncomfortable or legitimately painful.

Any negative emotions—like shame, stress, guilt, fear, whatever—can make it harder to relax during sex, turning arousal and vaginal lubrication into obstacles, according to ACOG.

Of course, the source of these negative emotions varies from individual to individual, Dr. Pizarro says. For some, it’s a matter of mental health. Feeling uncomfortable in your body or having relationship issues might also contribute.

In an unfair twist, taking care of yourself in some ways, like by using antidepressant medication, blood pressure drugs, allergy medications, or some birth control pills, can also cause trouble with lubrication that translates into painful sex.

6. You shouldn’t use painkillers or a numbing agent to try to get through painful sex.

This might seem like the best way to handle your pain, but Dr. Pizarro cautions against it. Your body has pain receptors for a reason, and by numbing them, you could end up subjecting your body to trauma (think: tiny tears or irritation) without realizing it—which can just leave you in more pain.

7. If you’re not ready to see a doctor yet, there are a few things you can try at home, first.

According to ACOG, a few DIY methods might mitigate your symptoms:

  • Use lube, especially if you feel like your problem is caused by vaginal dryness.
  • Apply an ice pack wrapped in a towel to your vulva to dull a burning sensation when needed.
  • Have an honest conversation with your partner about what’s hurting and how you’re feeling. Let them know what hurts, what feels good, and what you need from them right now—whether that’s a break from certain sex acts, more time to warm up before you have sex, or something else.
  • Try sex acts that don’t involve penetration, like mutual masturbation and oral sex, which may help you avoid some of the pain you typically experience.

It’s totally OK to experiment with these things, Dr. Pizarro says, especially if they help you associate sex with something positive. But these tactics cannot and should not replace professional care.

8. If you’re regularly experiencing painful sex, you should talk to a doctor.

It’s really up to you to decide when to see a doctor about painful sex. “It’s like a cold,” Dr. Pizarro says. “If you’ve got a little cough, you might be all right. But if you have a cough and fever that haven’t gone away after a few days, you might want to see a doctor.” When in doubt, mention your concerns to your care provider, especially if any of these sound familiar:

  • Sex has always been painful for you
  • Sex has always been painful but seems to be getting worse
  • Sex is usually pain-free but has recently started to hurt
  • You’re not sure whether or not what you’re experiencing is normal, but you’re curious to learn more about painful sex

When you see your doctor, they’ll likely ask questions about your medical history and conduct a pelvic exam and/or ultrasound. “It’s important for doctors to ask the right questions and for patients to voice concerns about things,” Dr. Pizarro says.

From there, your doctor should take a holistic approach to treatment to address the possible physical, emotional, and situational concerns. “You really have to look at the total person,” Dr. Chinn says. Treatment options for painful sex vary wildly since there are so many potential causes, but the point is that you have options. “Many people think that it’s acceptable to experience pain during intercourse,” Dr. Pizarro says. “Use your judgment, of course, but it probably isn’t acceptable. And it can probably be made better.”

Complete Article ↪HERE↩!

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For Menopause Sex Discomfort, Gel Worked as Well as Estrogen

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Study find gels worked as well as prescription hormone tablets at reducing symptoms of menopause-related sexual discomfort.

By Lindsey Tanner

In a study of women with menopause-related sexual discomfort, gels worked as well as prescription hormone tablets at reducing symptoms.

The researchers say the results suggest low-cost, over-the-counter moisturizers might be the best option.

Most women in the study reported some relief from their most bothersome symptoms — painful intercourse, vaginal dryness or itching — regardless of treatment. Still, not quite half the women experienced what researchers considered a meaningful decline in symptom severity.

The problems are linked with declining levels of the hormone estrogen, which happens to all women when they reach menopause.

What baffles researchers is why only about half of women experience bothersome symptoms. Without that answer, pinpointing the cause and finding the perfect solution is difficult, said Dr. Caroline Mitchell, the study’s lead author and a researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Continue reading the main story

“Until we know why, our treatments are really just pretty broad attempts,” Mitchell said. “We’re not targeting the true biological root cause.”

Researchers enrolled 300 women at a Kaiser Permanente research institute in Seattle and at the University of Minnesota. Women were randomly assigned to one of three treatments: prescription vaginal estrogen tablets and a gel with inactive ingredients; placebo tablets and Replens over-the counter moisturizer; or placebo tablets and the inert gel. Treatment lasted 12 weeks.

The results were published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine. The National Institutes of Health paid for the study and the researchers have no financial ties to the products studied.

A journal editorial says there have been few similar studies and most were too small to reach conclusive results.

The latest results show that prescription treatment that can cost $200 is no better than over-the-counter moisturizers costing less than $20. The researchers noted that some women may prefer tablets to creams, which can be messy, but the extra money won’t buy extra relief.

Women with troublesome symptoms “should choose the cheapest moisturizer or lubricant available over the counter — at least until new evidence arises to suggest that there is any benefit to doing otherwise,” the editorial said.

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Nienke Helder designs therapy tools for women recovering from sexual trauma

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Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Nienke Helder has created a set of sensory objects that can be used to rehabilitate women affected by sexual abuse.

Presented at this year’s Dutch Design Week, Sexual Healing is designed to help women who are suffering from trauma-induced sexual problems, such as pelvic muscle blockage.

According to the designer, current treatment available often focuses on a clinical perspective – putting too much emphasis on physical issues, rather than the psychological aspects of trauma.

From her own experience, Helder recognised the frustration this can cause, which prompted her to develop an alternative therapy which focuses more on the emotional aspects of sexual trauma.

“I was really frustrated with the way we treat these kinds of issues. In my opinion, the treatments that I got only made it worse,” she told Dezeen.

“It was totally taking me away from the sexual context; it became really clinical. It was so focused on this end goal of penetration that I totally lost all fun in my sexuality.”

The designer worked with medical experts and women in recovery to develop a set of five objects which invite users to discover their own sexual pleasure.

The objects encourage women to explore what feels good to them, which in turn, relieves fear and pain, and help them regain a sense of security about their bodies.

The first object is an ergonomically shaped mirror that lights up.

“Research shows that if you look at your own vulva, it increases your body positivity a lot. But if you have a trauma, it can really be confronting to look at your own body,” Helder said.

She made the mirror in such a way that it only shows exactly what you hold in front of it, allowing users to take their time and slowly start exploring their own bodies.

The second object is a brush made from horsehair, which is meant to help users become comfortable with being touched again. It also enables them to invite their partner to the healing process.

“If you have a trauma, it can be really difficult to talk about it. But by giving someone an object and making them part of the therapy, it opens a lot of doors for conversation,” Helder explains.

Two of the objects focus on biofeedback and are designed to help the user detect if they are feeling tense or stressed.

“Trauma creates certain reflexes in your body that comes from your subconscious mind,” the designer said. “To break that cycle, you need to rationally understand what is causing these processes in order to overcome them emotionally.”

One is a sensor that is meant to be placed on the abdomen. The device lights-up when the user’s breathing becomes tense, functioning as a signal to relax again.

A second is an object that measures the pressure in pelvic floor muscles. If the user tenses up, the device starts to vibrate, signalling the need to relax.

The final object is a kimono made of silk jersey, which emphasises the need to feel warm and relaxed in the bedroom.

“I made it because the bedroom is one of the coldest rooms in the house,” said the designer. “As I mentioned in my project video, it is important to keep your socks on when having sex because women could not have an orgasm when they have cold feet.”


 
Mental health is becoming an increasingly explored topic in design, particularly among graduates.

At last year’s Design Academy Eindhoven graduate show, designer Nicolette Bodewes presented a tactile toolkit designed to be used in psychotherapy sessions, while Yi-Fei Chen channelled her personal struggle with speaking her mind into a gun that fires her tears.

Helder’s Sexual Healing project was presented at this year’s Design Academy Eindhoven‘s graduate show as part of the annual Dutch Design Week event, which took place from 21 until 29 October 2017.

Complete Article HERE!

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How to Rethink Intimacy When ‘Regular’ Sex Hurts

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There’s no rule that says sex has to be penetrative.

By Breena Kerr

When sex hurts, women often feel alone—but they’re not. About 30 percent of women report pain during vaginal intercourse, according to a 2015 study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine which surveyed a subsample of 1,738 women and men ages 18 and older online.

Awareness of painful vaginal sex—sometimes lumped under the term Female Sexual Dysfunction (FSD)—has grown as more women talk about their experiences and more medical professionals start to listen.

Many conditions are associated with FSD, including vulvodynia (chronic vulva pain), vestibulodynia (chronic pain around the opening of the vagina), and vaginismus (cramping and tightness around the opening of the vagina). But they all have one thing in common: vaginal or vulval pain that can make penetrative sex anywhere from mildly uncomfortable to physically impossible. However, you can absolutely still have sex, which we’ll get to in a minute.

First and most important, if you are experiencing any type of genital pain, talk to your doctor.

There’s no reason to suffer in silence, even if it seems awkward or embarrassing or scary. Your gynecologist has heard it all and can help (or they can refer you to someone who can). The International Pelvic Pain Society has great resources for finding a licensed health care provider who specializes in genital pain.

“We don’t yet know why women get vestibulodynia or vulvodynia,” Kayna Cassard, M.A., M.F.T., a psychotherapist who specializes in vaginismus and other pelvic pain issues, tells SELF. “[There can be] many traumas, physical and psychological, that become internalized and add to vaginal pain. Women’s pain isn’t just ‘in their heads,’ ” Cassard says.

This kind of pain can affect anyone—regardless of sexual orientation or relationship status—but it can be particularly difficult for someone who mostly engages in penetrative sex with their partner. The important thing to remember is that you have options.

Sex does not have to revolve around penetration.

Hell, it doesn’t even need to include it. And for a lot of people, it doesn’t. Obviously, if P-in-V sex is what you and your partner are used to, it can be intimidating to consider redefining what sex means to you. But above all, sex should be pleasurable.

“The first thing to do is expand what ‘counts’ as sex,” sex educator and Girl Sex 101 author Allison Moon tells SELF. “Many people in heterosexual relationships consider only penis-in-vagina to count as sex, and everything else is some form of foreplay,” she says. But sex can include (or not include) whatever two consensual people decide on: oral sex, genital massage, mutual masturbation, whatever you’re into.

“If you only allow yourself one form of sex to count as the real deal, you may feel broken for enjoying, or preferring, other kinds of touch,” Moon says.

To minimize pain, give yourself time to prepare physically and mentally for sex.

That might sound like a lot of prep work, but it’s really about making sure you’re in the right mindset, that you’re relaxed, and that you’re giving your body time to warm up.

Heather S. Howard, Ph.D., a certified sexologist and founder of the Center for Sexual Health and Rehabilitation in San Francisco, publishes free guides that help women prepare physically and mentally for sex. She tells SELF that stretching and massaging, including massaging your vaginal muscles, is especially helpful for women with muscle tightness. (Too much stretching, though, is a bad idea for women with sensitive vaginal skin that’s prone to tearing.)

Starting with nonsexual touch is key, as Elizabeth Akincilar-Rummer, M.S.P.T., president and cofounder of the Pelvic Health and Rehabilitation Center in San Francisco, tells SELF. This puts the emphasis on relaxation so you don’t feel pressured to rush arousal.

Inserting a cool or warm stainless steel dilator (or a homemade version created with water and a popsicle mold) can also help reduce pain, Howard says. Women can tailor the size and shape to whatever is comfortable. If a wand or dilator is painful, however, a cool cloth or warm bath can feel soothing instead. Again, do what feels good to you and doesn’t cause pain.

Several studies have shown that arousal may increase your threshold for pain tolerance (not to mention it makes sex more enjoyable). So don’t skimp on whatever step is most arousing for you. That might mean some solo stimulation, playing sexy music, dressing up, reading an erotic story, watching porn, etc.

And of course, don’t forget lubrication. Lube is the first line of defense when sex hurts. Water-based lubricant is typically the safest for sensitive skin. It’s also the easiest to clean and won’t stain your clothes or sheets. Extra lubrication will make the vagina less prone to irritation, infections, and skin tears, according to Howard. But some people may also be irritated by the ingredients in lube, so if you need a recommendation, ask your gynecologist.

Now it’s time figure out what feels good.

Women with pain often know what feels bad. But Howard says it’s important for them to remember what feels good, too. “Lots of people aren’t asking, ‘What feels good?’ So I ask women to set what their pleasure scale is, along with their pain scale. I ask them to develop a tolerance for pleasure.”

To explore what feels good, partners can try an exercise where they rate touch. They set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes and ask their partner to touch them in different ways on different parts of their body. Sex partners can experiment with location, pressure, and touch type (using their fingertips, nails, breath, etc.) and change it up every 30 seconds. With every different touch, women should say a number from 0 to 10 that reflects how good the touch feels, with 10 being, “This feels amazing!” and 0 meaning, “I don’t like this particular kind of touch.” This allows women to feel a sense of ownership and control over the sensations, Howard says.

Another option is experimenting with different sensations. Think tickling, wax dripping, spanking, and flogging. Or if they prefer lighter touch, feathers, fingers, hair, or fabric on skin are good options. Some women with chronic pain may actually find it empowering to play with intense sensations (like hot wax) and eroticize them in a way that gives them control, according to Howard. But other women may need extremely light touch, she says, since chronic pain can lower some people’s general pain tolerance.

Masturbating together can also be an empowering way for you to show a partner how you like to be touched. And it can involve the entire body, not just genitals, Akincilar-Rummer says. It’s also a safe way for you to experience sexual play with a partner, when you aren’t quite ready to be touched by another person. For voyeurs and exhibitionists, it can be fun for one person to masturbate while the other person watches. Or, for a more intimate experience, partners can hold and kiss each other while they masturbate. It feels intimate while still allowing control over genital sensations.

If clitoral stimulation doesn’t hurt, feel free to just stick with that.

It’s worth noting that the majority of women need direct clitoral stimulation to reach orgasm, Maureen Whelihan, M.D., an ob/gyn in West Palm Beach, Florida, tells SELF. Stimulating the clit is often the most direct route to arousal and climax and requires no penetration.

Some women won’t be able to tolerate clitoral stimulation, especially if their pain is linked to the pudendal nerve, which can affect sensations in the clitoris, mons pubis, vulva, vagina, and labia, according to Howard and Akincilar-Rummer. For that reason, vibrators may be right for some women and wrong for others. “Many women with pelvic pain can irritate the pelvic nerve with vibrators,” says Akincilar-Rummer. “But if it’s their go-to, that’s usually fine. I just tell them to be cautious.”

For women with pain from a different source, like muscle tightness, vibrators may actually help them become less sensitive to pain. “Muscular pain can actually calm down with a vibrator,” Howard says. Sex and relationship coach Charlie Glickman, Ph.D., tells SELF that putting a vibrator in a pillow and straddling it may decrease the amount of direct vibration.

Above all else, remember that sexual play should be fun, pleasurable, and consensual—but it doesn’t need to be penetrative. There’s no need to do anything that makes you uncomfortable physically or emotionally or worsens your genital pain.

Complete Article HERE!

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