Podcast Episode: A Quickie On Pain During Sex

Understanding and navigating pain during sex

Podcast Episode: A Quickie On Pain During Sex

Understanding and navigating pain during sex

 
 

In this Quickie from podcast Clitastic Chronicles, Dr Jess from InSync Medical debunks some myths about pain during sex, explains why it is important to address it to build a healthy sex life and give us tips to do so.

Episode Transcript

Smile Makers , 00:10
Hi everyone and welcome to Clitastic Chronicles, a pleasure positive podcast created by Smile Makers for people with a clitoris. Today I'm speaking with Dr. Jess. Dr. Jess runs a sexual health clinic here in Singapore. A general practitioner by training, she has developed a keen interest in female and sexual has her practice offers management of female health issues and bridges the gap between regular GP and gynaecologists, and sexual health specialists. Today, we’re talking about pain during sex. Although very common, it’s often hushed and misunderstood. Dr Jess sheds a light on what might cause it, who we can turn to and what we can do about t. Let’s get started. I'd like thank you for being with us as Smile Makers today. And today we want to talk about pain doing sex.

Dr Jess , 01:09
Well, thank you for having me. Cecile, it's always nice to chat with you.

Smile Makers , 01:13
Thanks so much for making the time. So, the reason why I wanted to talk to you about pain during sex is that we know in the studies we've done, or in like scientific studies that have been published that this is something very common for people with vulvas, when we're having sex, especially doing penetrative sex for people who have sex this way. And I wanted to know like, because you see this firsthand, like you see people coming into your clinic, is this something that you see a lot at your clinic?

Dr Jess , 01:42
Very much as you've said, you know, this is actually a problem that is far more common than people realize. And it's probably the issue we see the most in our clinic with women, and most of them come in complaining of pain that they experienced during sexual intercourse, whether it is pain that they have, when anything at all, be it a finger, be a penis, be it a small fixed toy that touches the entrance of the vagina, meaning the vulva or pain that they experience when they have penetrative intercourse, and it's a deep sort of pain. So yes, it is a very common problem that is encountered in our clinic.

Smile Makers , 02:22
What are the myths and misconceptions that you can hear around the topic of pain during sex?

Dr Jess , 02:30
The most common thing we have women saying to us, and this is a large reflection, what I'm what I mean it's that is actually a large reflection of what women are actually telling us in the clinic. So many women come in saying that, you know, they've got a lot of pain during sex. However, they've been told that their first sexual encounters is gonna definitely be very painful. So, that is one of the misconceptions that the very first penetration is going to be very painful. And it's normal for it to be very painful. And this is a dangerous normalization. And why it becomes dangerous is because you accept it to be painful. And when it continues to be painful, it will then take you a while to decide that, you know, hey, this is not quite normal, I need to seek help for this. So it stops people from seeking help from an uncomfortable experience during sexual intercourse, when sexual intercourse or intimacy really should not be something that is unpleasurable, let alone painful.

Smile Makers , 03:32
This is very eye opening that to tie it back to the misconceptions we had about the first time having sex. This is really like, wow, you're right, we are taught from the beginning that sex is going to be painful if we have a vagina.

Dr Jess , 03:48
Yes. And that's a harsh thing to hear, particularly when you're conservative with your own approach to what intimacy and sex and for the very first time, let's say in a couple setting, you are set vulnerable. And you have to allow this to happen. Many people feel that they have to allow this to happen. They have to allow the consummation of a marriage to happen. And they feel very unready for it not knowing what to expect. And then on top of that, they have this preconceived idea, hey, look, this is going to be painful. So when you prep yourself in this manner, you're already prepping yourself for Doom, you're prepping yourself to expect the worst. And this doesn't put you in a state of relaxation, because relaxation essentially is the basis of any intimacy and if you're not there, then the pain or the discomfort that you experience will be heightened.

Smile Makers , 04:36
This is so true, wow! And then what can cause pain during sex? Because you say so common. And you've also explained that it can be when it's penetration like with fingers or toys, or like deeper pain. So it sounds like there are also different ways to experience pain during sex. What are the different causes for that?

Dr Jess , 04:58
Well, when we think of pain, we think of two different types of pain. One is an actual organic pain that's going on in the area of the vulva and the vagina. The other thing is how we perceive it, you know, naturally we can like, you know, I could squeeze your arm, and I could squeeze somebody else's arm, you might perceive that pain is "Whoa, that was really tight", where somebody else would say, "Hey, no, that was okay. It was not such a big deal." So there's two angles to the pain, what is actually going on at the area where the touch is received. And secondly, what is perceived by the brain. And what we perceive and how we perceive a touch is often influenced by our previous experiences, things that are going on around us our social circumstances, and also especially with sex, it involves interpersonal relationships, isn't it? How you are with your partner? So some of the common causes, and to answer your question, what are the common things that causes pain during sex? We often would go down at the level of the vulva first and we find out "Hey, ss there something going on at the vulva? Is the vulva abnormal? Could there be thickening of the skin there? Could there be a rash there? Could there be a sensitive tissues in those areas?" Some women have abnormal skin of the vulva, like a condition called lichen, where you get like an eczema around the area of the vulva. Surely when a touch is received, it can be quite painful. Other things are, let's say we go beyond the vulva. And we start going a little bit deeper into the vagina, right at the entrance, we have these muscles, which surround the vagina. And if these muscles and these are muscles of your pelvic floor that make us around full circle, what do you call this a circumference around the vagina. And if they are tight, you know, they're in a state of spasm, what we call hypertonic, very high tone, and they're all banged up. Surely as you try and push through that muscle and trying to get into the vagina, that's gonna be a tough process, you're trying to push a part of a muscle that's, you know, that's biting down against whatever is trying to get in there into the vagina. So that then also causes pain. So a very tight pelvic floor. And another element of pain during sex is what else is going on deeper within the vagina? And it's not what is within the vagina as well. It could be what's outside the vagina. So then here we're talking about biology, isn't it? So things that are outside the vagina could be you know, other organs that are close by your bladder, your your colon? Could there be some issues going on around these areas? the uterus? Is the uterus very large, could it possibly be pushing on the vagina making it painful? Could there be a condition like endometriosis, we are learning more and more about endometriosis now, and this is a condition where you have the lining of your uterus, spilling out into your pelvis instead of breaking down and forming just menstrual blood exiting out through your vagina onto your pad or your menstrual cup or your tampon. So it goes in a reverse direction, and it creates all these nasty deposits all over the pelvis, makes the area very scarred and very inflamed. Now if penetrative sex is performed in individuals who had women with endometriosis, they can get a very deep pain from it. Now pulling away from the whole biology of things, rather than just you know, hey, looking for sources of pain on the vulva or the entrance of the vagina or deeper within the vagina or outside the vagina, we then move off to explain things that probably influence how we perceive pain. And this is influenced by things like culture, social circumstances, interpersonal relationships. Now, if one has anxiety around penetration, or one has a fear of penetration because of preconceived ideas, or one has suffered also something like trauma in the past, whether it be sexual abuse, your your connotation or your perception of objects is going to be very altered to a level where you become very apprehensive of the actual act of penetration. And that then develops a sense of fear, anxiety that changes hormones and neurotransmitters in your brain and it causes this very unfriendly spasm of the vaginal muscles and it makes insurance or penetration, extremely uncomfortable and painful. Okay, so these are just broadly some of the causes of pain during sex.

Smile Makers , 09:43
Okay, thanks for like, helping us having a better understanding of the different type of causes and who can we turn to to seek professional help? When should we even like seek professional help when we're experiencing pain during sex?

Dr Jess , 10:00
I think that's an excellent question the when, you know, most of us think that you know, it's going to be uncomfortable, it's, if it's our first time, or occasionally once in a while, you might have a little bit of discomfort. When you do seek help is when you realize that, "hey, this is not just happened once, this has happened twice, a third time". And every time it's been uncomfortable, and it doesn't have to be uncomfortable 100% of the time, if most of the time you're experiencing discomfort, and it takes you away from being present in the moment during sex, and it makes you want to walk away, if you get asked, you know, Hey, would you be interested in in having sex, and if it makes you want to pull away from that situation, and it's impacted you, then you know, hey, I need to seek help for this. Because number one, intercourse is not pleasurable. And I don't want to do it. And it's affecting myself and my partner, because I find myself not wanting it. But at the same time I feel I have to give in, because I don't want to see my partner unhappy. Now, this then creates a lot of animosity within a relationship as well. And if you feel that you're heading down that track, then definitely seek help for it, but don't let it go on for so long before you do seek help. Or if you find that the pain during sex is happening, you know, a couple of times and you see this as a pattern, already seek help or it before it starts to have an impact on your relationship and on how you feel about yourself.

Smile Makers , 11:31
What can we turn to?

Dr Jess , 11:33
People you can turn to; Yes, so for women in general, you can always start with your general practitioners. But if you feel your general practitioners, or your GPS, they don't have a specialty or a good understanding around women's health then seek out help from women's health doctors. And there are two different types of women's health doctors, one a gynecologist themselves, these other specialists, traditional specialists, or you could seek out sexual medicine doctors, and these are doctors like myself who practice sexual medicine. So we do a lot more care in terms of rather than just the biology, we take it into, we take a look at two things like the sexology side of things, understanding the bio, that the psychosocial reasons meaning, the mental and the emotional reasons one, or why one might have issues with penetration or pain during sex.

Smile Makers , 12:22
Okay. And my last question, before we conclude this episode is, is there something that we can do with our partners about pain during sex?

Dr Jess , 12:35
The number one thing is always be very upfront and honest about what you're experiencing. If we see pain during sex is something shameful. It's hard for us to then communicate exactly what we're feeling. And if our partners are unaware of what our experience during sex has made us feel, how then do we expect them to embark on a journey to help us? Yeah. So keeping your partner aware, letting them know upfront how you feel, not just saying, "Hey, I have a lot of pain. " But how does the pain make you feel? Does it make you upset? And in what way does it make you upset? Does it make you upset because you feel you know, you perhaps can't get the penetration that you know other girls can get, or it makes you upset because it always interrupts their intimacy, and you don't like seeing him upset as well. So, when you incorporate feelings into the mechanical explanation of pain, it makes your situation real, it makes someone feel you and then be able to empathize with you. And that way, you then have a partner who is a facilitator, yeah, willing to help you through the journey to help you get over it. So and when I say facilitator, and I talked about this a lot to my patients, because there are two types of partners. There are facilitator partners and their solicitors partners. Facilitator partners or partners who are all on board willing to help you to follow you through to help you get it resolved. Because they realize that pain during sex is not a woman's problem. But it is a couple's problem. A solicitor partner is a partner who actually aggravates the problem by allowing avoidance so take, for example, a partner who will say, "oh, if you're having pain, it's okay. Don't worry, we don't need to do it. We don't need to have sex, take as much time as you want. Don't be stressed by it. We don't need to work on it at all, we'll just avoid it." And avoidance doesn't help a woman because it's an issue that's ongoing in her mind. And it creates doubts about herself and if she has a partner that promotes the avoidance, then it it further festers. Yeah. So that that's what we like to relay across when it comes to partners, that awareness so that they can then empathize with you because the understanding exactly where your feelings are at, and to allow your partners to be a facilitator partner rather than a solicitor partner.

Smile Makers , 15:07
Awesome. Thank you very much Dr Jess. We hope you enjoyed this episode of Clitastic Chronicles and found snippets of wisdom that you can apply to your own sexual health. If you liked this podcast, share it around with your friends and give us a five star review on Apple podcasts or wherever you're getting your podcast form. This will help us make it easy to find. For more sex positivity, head to our website at SmileMakersCollection.com

In this Quickie from podcast Clitastic Chronicles, Dr Jess from InSync Medical debunks some myths about pain during sex, explains why it is important to address it to build a healthy sex life and give us tips to do so.

Episode Transcript

Smile Makers , 00:10
Hi everyone and welcome to Clitastic Chronicles, a pleasure positive podcast created by Smile Makers for people with a clitoris. Today I'm speaking with Dr. Jess. Dr. Jess runs a sexual health clinic here in Singapore. A general practitioner by training, she has developed a keen interest in female and sexual has her practice offers management of female health issues and bridges the gap between regular GP and gynaecologists, and sexual health specialists. Today, we’re talking about pain during sex. Although very common, it’s often hushed and misunderstood. Dr Jess sheds a light on what might cause it, who we can turn to and what we can do about t. Let’s get started. I'd like thank you for being with us as Smile Makers today. And today we want to talk about pain doing sex.

Dr Jess , 01:09
Well, thank you for having me. Cecile, it's always nice to chat with you.

Smile Makers , 01:13
Thanks so much for making the time. So, the reason why I wanted to talk to you about pain during sex is that we know in the studies we've done, or in like scientific studies that have been published that this is something very common for people with vulvas, when we're having sex, especially doing penetrative sex for people who have sex this way. And I wanted to know like, because you see this firsthand, like you see people coming into your clinic, is this something that you see a lot at your clinic?

Dr Jess , 01:42
Very much as you've said, you know, this is actually a problem that is far more common than people realize. And it's probably the issue we see the most in our clinic with women, and most of them come in complaining of pain that they experienced during sexual intercourse, whether it is pain that they have, when anything at all, be it a finger, be a penis, be it a small fixed toy that touches the entrance of the vagina, meaning the vulva or pain that they experience when they have penetrative intercourse, and it's a deep sort of pain. So yes, it is a very common problem that is encountered in our clinic.

Smile Makers , 02:22
What are the myths and misconceptions that you can hear around the topic of pain during sex?

Dr Jess , 02:30
The most common thing we have women saying to us, and this is a large reflection, what I'm what I mean it's that is actually a large reflection of what women are actually telling us in the clinic. So many women come in saying that, you know, they've got a lot of pain during sex. However, they've been told that their first sexual encounters is gonna definitely be very painful. So, that is one of the misconceptions that the very first penetration is going to be very painful. And it's normal for it to be very painful. And this is a dangerous normalization. And why it becomes dangerous is because you accept it to be painful. And when it continues to be painful, it will then take you a while to decide that, you know, hey, this is not quite normal, I need to seek help for this. So it stops people from seeking help from an uncomfortable experience during sexual intercourse, when sexual intercourse or intimacy really should not be something that is unpleasurable, let alone painful.

Smile Makers , 03:32
This is very eye opening that to tie it back to the misconceptions we had about the first time having sex. This is really like, wow, you're right, we are taught from the beginning that sex is going to be painful if we have a vagina.

Dr Jess , 03:48
Yes. And that's a harsh thing to hear, particularly when you're conservative with your own approach to what intimacy and sex and for the very first time, let's say in a couple setting, you are set vulnerable. And you have to allow this to happen. Many people feel that they have to allow this to happen. They have to allow the consummation of a marriage to happen. And they feel very unready for it not knowing what to expect. And then on top of that, they have this preconceived idea, hey, look, this is going to be painful. So when you prep yourself in this manner, you're already prepping yourself for Doom, you're prepping yourself to expect the worst. And this doesn't put you in a state of relaxation, because relaxation essentially is the basis of any intimacy and if you're not there, then the pain or the discomfort that you experience will be heightened.

Smile Makers , 04:36
This is so true, wow! And then what can cause pain during sex? Because you say so common. And you've also explained that it can be when it's penetration like with fingers or toys, or like deeper pain. So it sounds like there are also different ways to experience pain during sex. What are the different causes for that?

Dr Jess , 04:58
Well, when we think of pain, we think of two different types of pain. One is an actual organic pain that's going on in the area of the vulva and the vagina. The other thing is how we perceive it, you know, naturally we can like, you know, I could squeeze your arm, and I could squeeze somebody else's arm, you might perceive that pain is "Whoa, that was really tight", where somebody else would say, "Hey, no, that was okay. It was not such a big deal." So there's two angles to the pain, what is actually going on at the area where the touch is received. And secondly, what is perceived by the brain. And what we perceive and how we perceive a touch is often influenced by our previous experiences, things that are going on around us our social circumstances, and also especially with sex, it involves interpersonal relationships, isn't it? How you are with your partner? So some of the common causes, and to answer your question, what are the common things that causes pain during sex? We often would go down at the level of the vulva first and we find out "Hey, ss there something going on at the vulva? Is the vulva abnormal? Could there be thickening of the skin there? Could there be a rash there? Could there be a sensitive tissues in those areas?" Some women have abnormal skin of the vulva, like a condition called lichen, where you get like an eczema around the area of the vulva. Surely when a touch is received, it can be quite painful. Other things are, let's say we go beyond the vulva. And we start going a little bit deeper into the vagina, right at the entrance, we have these muscles, which surround the vagina. And if these muscles and these are muscles of your pelvic floor that make us around full circle, what do you call this a circumference around the vagina. And if they are tight, you know, they're in a state of spasm, what we call hypertonic, very high tone, and they're all banged up. Surely as you try and push through that muscle and trying to get into the vagina, that's gonna be a tough process, you're trying to push a part of a muscle that's, you know, that's biting down against whatever is trying to get in there into the vagina. So that then also causes pain. So a very tight pelvic floor. And another element of pain during sex is what else is going on deeper within the vagina? And it's not what is within the vagina as well. It could be what's outside the vagina. So then here we're talking about biology, isn't it? So things that are outside the vagina could be you know, other organs that are close by your bladder, your your colon? Could there be some issues going on around these areas? the uterus? Is the uterus very large, could it possibly be pushing on the vagina making it painful? Could there be a condition like endometriosis, we are learning more and more about endometriosis now, and this is a condition where you have the lining of your uterus, spilling out into your pelvis instead of breaking down and forming just menstrual blood exiting out through your vagina onto your pad or your menstrual cup or your tampon. So it goes in a reverse direction, and it creates all these nasty deposits all over the pelvis, makes the area very scarred and very inflamed. Now if penetrative sex is performed in individuals who had women with endometriosis, they can get a very deep pain from it. Now pulling away from the whole biology of things, rather than just you know, hey, looking for sources of pain on the vulva or the entrance of the vagina or deeper within the vagina or outside the vagina, we then move off to explain things that probably influence how we perceive pain. And this is influenced by things like culture, social circumstances, interpersonal relationships. Now, if one has anxiety around penetration, or one has a fear of penetration because of preconceived ideas, or one has suffered also something like trauma in the past, whether it be sexual abuse, your your connotation or your perception of objects is going to be very altered to a level where you become very apprehensive of the actual act of penetration. And that then develops a sense of fear, anxiety that changes hormones and neurotransmitters in your brain and it causes this very unfriendly spasm of the vaginal muscles and it makes insurance or penetration, extremely uncomfortable and painful. Okay, so these are just broadly some of the causes of pain during sex.

Smile Makers , 09:43
Okay, thanks for like, helping us having a better understanding of the different type of causes and who can we turn to to seek professional help? When should we even like seek professional help when we're experiencing pain during sex?

Dr Jess , 10:00
I think that's an excellent question the when, you know, most of us think that you know, it's going to be uncomfortable, it's, if it's our first time, or occasionally once in a while, you might have a little bit of discomfort. When you do seek help is when you realize that, "hey, this is not just happened once, this has happened twice, a third time". And every time it's been uncomfortable, and it doesn't have to be uncomfortable 100% of the time, if most of the time you're experiencing discomfort, and it takes you away from being present in the moment during sex, and it makes you want to walk away, if you get asked, you know, Hey, would you be interested in in having sex, and if it makes you want to pull away from that situation, and it's impacted you, then you know, hey, I need to seek help for this. Because number one, intercourse is not pleasurable. And I don't want to do it. And it's affecting myself and my partner, because I find myself not wanting it. But at the same time I feel I have to give in, because I don't want to see my partner unhappy. Now, this then creates a lot of animosity within a relationship as well. And if you feel that you're heading down that track, then definitely seek help for it, but don't let it go on for so long before you do seek help. Or if you find that the pain during sex is happening, you know, a couple of times and you see this as a pattern, already seek help or it before it starts to have an impact on your relationship and on how you feel about yourself.

Smile Makers , 11:31
What can we turn to?

Dr Jess , 11:33
People you can turn to; Yes, so for women in general, you can always start with your general practitioners. But if you feel your general practitioners, or your GPS, they don't have a specialty or a good understanding around women's health then seek out help from women's health doctors. And there are two different types of women's health doctors, one a gynecologist themselves, these other specialists, traditional specialists, or you could seek out sexual medicine doctors, and these are doctors like myself who practice sexual medicine. So we do a lot more care in terms of rather than just the biology, we take it into, we take a look at two things like the sexology side of things, understanding the bio, that the psychosocial reasons meaning, the mental and the emotional reasons one, or why one might have issues with penetration or pain during sex.

Smile Makers , 12:22
Okay. And my last question, before we conclude this episode is, is there something that we can do with our partners about pain during sex?

Dr Jess , 12:35
The number one thing is always be very upfront and honest about what you're experiencing. If we see pain during sex is something shameful. It's hard for us to then communicate exactly what we're feeling. And if our partners are unaware of what our experience during sex has made us feel, how then do we expect them to embark on a journey to help us? Yeah. So keeping your partner aware, letting them know upfront how you feel, not just saying, "Hey, I have a lot of pain. " But how does the pain make you feel? Does it make you upset? And in what way does it make you upset? Does it make you upset because you feel you know, you perhaps can't get the penetration that you know other girls can get, or it makes you upset because it always interrupts their intimacy, and you don't like seeing him upset as well. So, when you incorporate feelings into the mechanical explanation of pain, it makes your situation real, it makes someone feel you and then be able to empathize with you. And that way, you then have a partner who is a facilitator, yeah, willing to help you through the journey to help you get over it. So and when I say facilitator, and I talked about this a lot to my patients, because there are two types of partners. There are facilitator partners and their solicitors partners. Facilitator partners or partners who are all on board willing to help you to follow you through to help you get it resolved. Because they realize that pain during sex is not a woman's problem. But it is a couple's problem. A solicitor partner is a partner who actually aggravates the problem by allowing avoidance so take, for example, a partner who will say, "oh, if you're having pain, it's okay. Don't worry, we don't need to do it. We don't need to have sex, take as much time as you want. Don't be stressed by it. We don't need to work on it at all, we'll just avoid it." And avoidance doesn't help a woman because it's an issue that's ongoing in her mind. And it creates doubts about herself and if she has a partner that promotes the avoidance, then it it further festers. Yeah. So that that's what we like to relay across when it comes to partners, that awareness so that they can then empathize with you because the understanding exactly where your feelings are at, and to allow your partners to be a facilitator partner rather than a solicitor partner.

Smile Makers , 15:07
Awesome. Thank you very much Dr Jess. We hope you enjoyed this episode of Clitastic Chronicles and found snippets of wisdom that you can apply to your own sexual health. If you liked this podcast, share it around with your friends and give us a five star review on Apple podcasts or wherever you're getting your podcast form. This will help us make it easy to find. For more sex positivity, head to our website at SmileMakersCollection.com
error: Alert: Content is protected !!