Our expert says:
Dear Liz What you describe is not uncommon. It is good to hear that you had a good experience when you first tried intercourse! This is certainly not that case for many couples. It is difficult to say what may have started the pain, perhaps you did have an infection, thrush, which can result in painful intercourse. Sometimes this may take awhile to treat and may cause inflammation of the vaginal lining. It may be a good idea to be sure of the diagnosis and see a medical doctor/gynaecologist to ensure that you have the correct diagnosis and most effective treatment. It seems from what you describe that you are able to become aroused which is great so there is lots of lubrication which is vital in order for sex not to be painful. What I think may be happening though, is that you are now anticipating pain because of what you have experienced. Your body's reaction is to protect. It may be that without you realising it the muscles surrounding your vagina tighten and when penetration is attempted this can be very painful. What may help, to feel how these muscles work, is perhaps in private, with a mirror, have a look at your vulva. I am not sure whether you have had a look before, many women haven't, but it is imprtant to know what you look like. You may have heard about Kegel's exercises, usually explained to pregnant mothers to keep the muscles in the pelvis strong. What you should try to do is contract these muscles, just as when you are trying to stop a wee. You can then push down a bit and in this way these muscles relax. By opening up the lips a bit you may even see how these muscles may make the opening to the vagina smaller and then relax as the you bear down. When comfortable and with a bit of lubrication, it may be useful to pop a finger inside your vagina. You will then be able to feel how the muscles work when you tighten and then loosen them again. Once you are happy that you can manage that it may be a good idea to allow your husband to try. You may need to use a lubricant, if you are not adequately aroused. When you are completely comfortable you may try with his penis again. Again it is so important to ensure that there is enough lubrication and arousal so lots of foreplay first. It is best for you to be in the 'on top' position so that you have more control with how the penis goes in and can stop if it is uncomfortable or some women prefer side to side facing one another. It helps to actually bear down/push down a bit as penetration occurs just as you did when you felt with the finger as remember this relaxes the muscles. It is not important to rush this. You can explain to your husband how these muscles work. You can take your time and move onto the next step when comfortable. If you find that you are still having great difficulties, please don't just leave it and allow it to become a major issue, it may be important to speak to a trained sexual therapist/doctor in you area. For further information please consult SASHA’s website at www.sexualhealth.qw.co.za/dru. For referral to a professional in your vicinity, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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