When Sex Hurts


I was 12 weeks pregnant with our first child when my husband and I went on a little getaway with some friends to Las Vegas. A trip meant to be a great time ended up including one of the most painful experiences I’ve ever had. No one had ever told me that sex could be painful, but suddenly it was.

I needed my marriage to survive, so I wasn’t ready to throw in the white towel of surrender. This was an issue we had to figure out, but I’d only been living in Oklahoma City for a year and half and didn’t have anyone I felt 100% comfortable talking to about sex without turning fifty shades of red. So, I put my big girl pants on and made an appointment to talk with my OB. During this appointment, I learned I had a retroverted uterus, meaning that my uterus is tilted backwards and that certain sexual positions would be extremely painful. I can’t imagine the impact on me (and my marriage!) if I’d never had that conversation.


According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), 3 out of 4 women experience pain during intercourse at some point in their lives. Now ask yourself this question, “Why have my friends not talked to me about this?” Honestly, this isn’t a topic every woman is dying to discuss over a coffee date with girlfriends. Hopefully you may find some answers here to problems you could be facing.

Sex was designed by God to be fun and exciting. Sex is NOT supposed to hurt. But, certain factors can thwart the fun. Let’s talk about why and what can be done about it…


There are multiple reasons you may experience pain during intercourse, including the following:

1. Gynecological problems.

Ovarian cysts, endometriosis, vaginitis (inflammation of the vagina caused by yeast or bacteria) and vaginismus are among the culprits here. Even skin disorders from perfumed soaps or lubricants can lead to discomfort. Fortunately, there are great treatments for all of these issues.

2. Lack of desire or arousal.

No desire or arousal equals pain. This can be influenced by emotions as far reaching as fear, guilt, embarrassment, stress, and fatigue. Medications you take, relationship problems with your spouse, and his sexual health can also be a factor here.

3. Hormonal changes.

Two of the most common times I see women suffer in their sex life are immediately after giving birth to a child and during perimenopause/menopause. Childbirth is an amazing, beautiful process, but it can do some physical damage. Women who have an episiotomy or tears in the perineum during childbirth may experience pain during sex for several months. Treatment includes physical therapy, medications, surgery, and most important is rest (6-8 weeks). Talk with your spouse about other ways you can experience intimacy while allowing your body to recover.

Breastfeeding can pose a challenge. Hormonal changes from this and other causes might leave you with vaginal dryness and tender. When you feel up to the fun, take it slow and experiment. Be cautious about birth control. Though the combined estrogen/progestin might help with your dryness issues, it can pose an increased risk of blood clots shortly after delivery and to your milk supply for your baby. If you find yourself just not at all in the mood and struggling, be alert for signs and symptoms of postpartum depression. It is real and can sneak up on you before you know it. Ask questions and do not be timid when discussing these issues with your doctor.

During perimenopause and menopause, big hormonal changes are taking place. Estrogen levels decrease, causing leading to pain. Treatment options include hormone therapy, lubricants and other natural oils.


Please understand this article is not written to help you self diagnose, but better understand what might be taking place and to encourage you to seek help if needed. YOU are YOUR best advocate. Have an open conversation with your spouse so they understand what is happening and make an appointment to discuss issues with your OBGYN. Your sex life, comfort, and marriage are worth whatever embarrassment and inconvenience it might cost to get the help you need.

All resources retrieved from www.acog.org.


Meet the Author!

Erin is a transplant from Alabama figuring out life in the Midwest. She is a wife to Scott, and a boy mom to two rambunctious boys, Kash and Bowen. She has been a nurse for 8 years with a background in pediatrics, in which she spent the past 6 years working critical care in the Neonatal ICU. She recently graduated with her masters in nursing and is a board certified family nurse practitioner. She is very passionate about the church and pouring herself into the lives of young adults, helping them remember their value, worth, and purpose. You will spot her in the local coffee shops around OKC enjoying a hot cup of coffee and conversations with friends. In her spare time she enjoys a good book, bike rides with her family, and the fellowship of people around her kitchen table.