Painful sex is not just a physical problem. It is a pain problem that effects your sense of self and, if you are in a relationship, it effects your partner and your relationship. Your partner needs to understand that you didn’t choose to have pain. This pain does not mean that you are rejecting them. It is important that you and your partner talk honestly about the pain and how it is effecting each of you. A sex therapist can help you and your partner develop helpful ways of being open without adding guilt or blame to an already stressful situation.

One of the first steps in any treatment for painful sex is relaxation. It is only natural that, when you experience something uncomfortable, you have a tendency to tighten against or try to avoid what might bring discomfort again. When the body is tight, any pain sensation is amplified. Abdominal breathing is a natural practice that can promote relaxation and lessen the sensation of pain. Practice the following basic abdominal breathing exercise and simply notice your breath as it moves in and out.

Basic Breathing

To begin this exercise, lie comfortably on your bed with your clothing loosened and legs slightly apart. Close your eyes and gradually allow your breathing to slow to a natural rhythm.

Now place your hand on your abdomen just below your rib cage. Inhale deeply. If your hand resting on your abdomen rises with your breath, you are doing abdominal breathing. Exhale slowly. Pause slightly. Then slowly breathe in through your nose. Exhale slowly through the nose. Pause then inhale again. Exhale slowly and fully. As you continue breathing at a pace that is comfortable for you, let your body soften with each exhalation. Continue for a set of 10 breaths. While continuing to rest, notice your body. Does it feel softer and more relaxed than when you began the practice?

Practice abdominal breathing at least once each day, gradually adding more time until you are practicing five to ten minutes each day.

If you experience pain, talk with your healthcare provider or a certified sex therapist. A specially trained professional can help figure out the source of the pain and recommend the best treatment for you. Sexual pain is best treated using a holistic approach that includes medical treatment, nutrition, lifestyle and emotional support. It is best provided by a multidisciplinary team that includes a knowledgable doctor, physical therapist and certified sex therapist who is also a relationship therapist. Other professionals such as an acupuncturist, massage therapist and nutritionist may also be helpful.

Many women suffer from painful sex in silent isolation. If you have sexual pain, call me today. As a certified sex therapist and relationship therapist, I will help you navigate the medical system and be an active participant on your team. Whether you need individual emotional or couple support – or both – I will work with you to help with self-image, depression, anxiety, relaxation, communication, and intimacy issues.