Pain During Sex: Causes and Tips

Real talk on a very common issue!

Real talk on a very common issue!

It is that little burning sensation, that tightness, or sometimes that pain we feel during sex. And it actually occurs to more than 50% of women throughout the world*. So, before you diagnose yourself with a rare and incurable condition, let’s put things in perspective and share some easy-to-try solutions.

Sexologists we have worked with even agree to say that most of the time, pain during sex is extremely common in the sexual life of a woman.

A common part of sex but that doesn’t mean we have to let it ruin the fun for us! First, let’s debunk some common myths about what causes pain during sex for women.

The causes of pain during sex

Most of the time, discomfort or pain comes from one fact: the vagina is not moist enough. Lubrication is a natural phenomenon that prepares the vagina for penetration, and when this process is not working properly, the penetration movement rubs on the dry membrane, which will cause itchiness or pain.

So why would your body NOT do its job?

Two main types of causes: physiological and psychological/environmental.

Physiological causes

The most common physiological causes are

  • Hormonal imbalances: the contraceptive pill, pregnancy, menopause, chemotherapy and other conditions can trigger to a hormonal imbalance that can lead to vaginal dryness.
  • Infections: local infections in the vagina like yeast infection can also cause vaginal dryness. Common infections like yeast infection can be very rapidly settled with medication, but it is always good to check with your doctor.

Psychological and environmental causes

The main psychological and environmental causes that shined through our research are**:

  • Stress
  • Dehydration
  • Insufficient arousal and stimulation to help the body lubricate
  • Food can also have an impact on the vaginal flora, hence on your vagina’s health

The usual suspects. So, here it is: having trouble to lubricate is in most cases a very normal thing, just as not being hungry when we are stressed or having a dry skin when we don’t hydrate enough. Good news for those who thought their body was not “normal”.

vibrator for vulva with clit stimulator

Tips To relieve vaginal dryness

If you feel that this is your case, it means your body is just asking for a little help, and the help is here: outercourse and intimate lubricants.

Outercourse to help natural lubrication

Outercourse is THE basis for smooth (and fun!) sex. Outercourse, which includes all sexual acts that are NOT penetrative, basically covers 90% of the options on the menu. From sexting to strip teases and mutual masturbation. It builds up excitement and can also lead to orgasm(s). All this is also great to trigger vaginal lubrication. So, if when you start penetration, you feel that your body is not ready for it, keep on exploring other pleasure spots and techniques. You are not lacking options in this field!

Intimate lubricants for extra help

Lubricants, if well chosen, are here to support us when we need that extra glide in bed. They are the perfect accessory for your bedside table, to be used alone or with a partner.

First of all, intimate lubes are a great way to make outercourse more fun (hint: using fingers, yours or your partner’s), and will add extra glide if your vagina is having a lazy day. If you feel discomfort during penetration, that outercourse is not helping with lubrication and you really want to proceed, apply lubricant on your partner’s penis/your vibrator and re-apply any time you need.

This extra help might actually lead your body to relax and lubricate more! If you are using a condom, make sure your lubricant is condom-compatible.

A few words on anal sex

We have a full article on the topic of anal sex, with a sexologist’s tips to make it a great moment, but before we leave our paragraph on tips to avoid pain during sex, it is worth mentioning that no matter how much outercourse you enjoy, the anus will not lubricate because it is simply not a function that comes with our behind… Outercourse will still have a positive effect, just not that particular one!

So, if you want to go for anal penetration, we HIGHLY recommend using a rich lubricant for an easier insertion. Go slowly, breathe, and re-apply lubricant as often as you need.


Of course, if pain is a recurring issue for you, talk with your gyno. The female body has such an amazing pleasure potential when it comes to sex that it’d be a shame to miss out on! So, lube up and enjoy yourself!


Sensual products for pleasure


Upgrade your sex life: read more sex tips for women on our blog!



*source: Smile Makers consumer studies in France, UK, Taiwan, Belgium, Hong Kong and Australia.
** causes provided by the partner gynaecologists and sexologists