Sex is wonderful and feels great for lots of people. But for some, sex can be painful.

Pain during sex is not uncommon and is experienced by many women. Sex shouldn’t hurt, though, and pain during sex should be taken seriously. Not taking pain seriously can lead to hurt feelings, exacerbated physical conditions, and, ultimately, bad sex for everyone involved.

Keep reading to see a list of possible causes of pain during sex for women.

Lack of lubrication

Some women simply don’t produce enough vaginal fluid to make sex pleasurable, or may not produce enough at certain times. Especially after the age of 40, sexual lubrication becomes increasingly less abundant common because of menopause. Commercial lubricants can help in these situations.

Emotional or relationship issues

Most women produce vaginal fluids when they are aroused, but it’s hard to get aroused when there are other things on your mind.

If someone is dealing with difficult emotional issues, it will be hard to get in the mood. What’s more, if their relationship with their sexual partner is difficult or causing them emotional pain, this may manifest as physical pain during the sexual act.

In these situations, it’s best to consult a couples counsellor or sex therapist.

Insufficient foreplay

Many women require a certain amount of foreplay before they can successfully engage in intercourse. Without this foreplay, sufficient lubrication can’t occur, and sex can become unpleasurable.

Birth control or other medication

Certain medications can affect lubrication levels in the vagina.

The birth control pill in particular can negatively affect a woman’s ability to produce vaginal fluids or even become aroused in the first place. This often occurs when the pill causes overproduction of sex hormone-binding globulin, which attaches to vulvar tissue, leading to biochemical changes.

Sexually transmitted infections

Many sexually transmitted infections can cause pain in the vagina. This is usually caused by bacterial infections that infect the genitals and cause inflammation that subsequently causes pain. STIs that commonly cause inflammation in this fashion include:

A viral STI, Herpes, can also cause painful sores that occur during outbreaks.


Vaginismus causes a pelvic muscle spasm that closes the vagina. Someone with vaginismus that engages in sexual intercourse will most likely experience discomfort. This condition is usually treated with a combination of medication and sex therapy.

Vulvar Vestibulitis

Vulvar Vestibulitis (VV) causes inflammation of the vestibular glands in the vagina. VV can clear up on its own over time with sufficient lubrication. Other treatments include changes in diet, therapy, or even surgery to remove the glands.

Other conditions

There are a range of other conditions that can cause sexual pain for women, including:

  • Uterine prolapse
  • Endometriosis
  • Cystitis
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Certain cancers
  • Allergic reactions to soaps or douches
  • Uncertain feelings towards sex that are rooted in shame, guilt, or fear
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Changing oestrogen levels
  • Yeast infections
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

Final thoughts

There can be many causes for pain during sex, but one of the most common is an STI.

If you think you may have an STI, you should get tested. Call the number above to speak to one of our dedicated Sexual Health Advisors. They can talk you through your situation and help you come up with a course of action that’s right for you.

Don’t leave your health to chance – get in touch with Better2Know today.

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