When it comes to feeling discomfort or pain after sex, women find it to be a common experience, but especially for women who are recovering from pain during sex, vulvodynia, chronic infections, or other pelvic pain.
I frequently receive questions like, “I was feeling so much better so I decided to have sex. But now my symptoms have flared up. What should I do?”
It can be discouraging to feel like you are listening to your body and following your pleasure — and be so happy to be enjoying sex and intimacy again — and then have discomfort or symptoms flare up later, along with all the worry, stress and obsessing that can come along with that.
Of course if you are having pain after sex, women who have never seen a doctor, should first make an appointment to identify any underlying physical issues, like infection, a bartholin’s cyst, fibroids, etc.
But there are many reasons for pain after sex women may not have considered that are not due to physical issues. These can be easily addressed with a deeper understanding of your body, and will not only eliminate pain but lead to better connection and much more pleasure!
Pain or discomfort after sex may be common, but it’s not normal, and you do not have to live with it.
3 Reasons for Pain After Sex Woman Might Not Have Considered (and what to do about them!)
Reason #1: Overriding your body’s subtle signals. (Solution: Follow your pleasure)
As women we are so conditioned to focus on our partner’s pleasure, or to look a certain way, or to have sex in a cerain way, that we are often completely unaware of, or overriding subtle sensations or even pain and discomfort in our body during sex.
Here’s the thing. “It didn’t hurt” is far too low of a standard when it comes to sex, and your body may be letting you know that.
When I was struggling with pain during sex, one of the things that helped me relieve it was making a commitment to myself to only do what felt absolutely delicious to me during sex and intimacy. No more ‘so so’ or ‘ok’, and definitely no pushing through anything that was painful or uncomfortable. I decided to trust my body.
Within a few months my pain was gone, and I had discovered a whole new world of pleasure and possibility.
That said, it wasn’t easy! I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to not only stay tuned into my body, but speak up…especially when I didn’t know what would feel good.
Your body is constantly guiding you with subtle sensations that indicate “yes this way” or “no, not this way.”
It’s like a game of “hotter or colder” where you hide a treasure and then guide someone to it. Hotter means you’re getting closer. Colder means you’re going in the wrong direction.
In your body numbness, tension or discomfort mean ‘colder’.
Pleasure means yes this way!
Your body is guiding you to your hidden treasure.
So many women are settling for ‘just ok’, or ‘it didn’t thurt’ or ‘that feels kind of uncomfortable but not too bad’ during sex.
Smart, successful, empowered, self-aware women are regularly so focused on their partner’s pleasure during sex, or afraid to hurt their feelings, or unaware of their own body that they either don’t speak up about what they want, or they don’t know.
And that’s why they’re ending up with pain after.
Pain after sex very often means that even if sex was enjoyable at the time, or sex mostly felt good, it’s very likely that you overrode your body’s signals in some way…and now your body is simply letting you know.
It’s not punishing you or working against you, it’s trying to HELP you.
- Maybe something didn’t feel that good and you didn’t even realize it.
- Maybe you felt emotional but pushed through or suppressed how you felt – consciously or unconsciously.
- Maybe it was too fast or too much friction, or your body wasn’t ready (see reason #2) and you didn’t know there was another option, or you didn’t know how to speak up.
All of this is part of the process of learning about yourself. It’s trial and error. Nothing wrong has happened.
Make a commitment to yourself to do your best to follow your pleasure. Become more aware of your inner experience during sex, and TRUST it. Discomfort does not mean there’s something wrong with you.
Your body isn’t broken, it’s communicating.
And don’t worry, because if you miss something and end up with pain after sex. No biggie. Just tune in now.
Reason #2: Lack of understanding of female arousal (Solution: A regular self-pleasure practice)
Did you know that your body has just as much erectile tissue, in the clitoral bulbs under the labia, the clitoral legs around the vagina, and the urethral and perineal sponges – as a man has in his penis? Most women don’t know this because we are never taught this…not even by our doctors, most of whom learn nothing about female arousal.
This erectile tissue engorges when a woman is aroused, and when it is engorged not only does it protect the urethra from infection it makes penetration feel good.
Intercourse prior to full arousal can cause discomfort and pain during and after sex.
A woman’s sexual energy warms up slowly and from the outside in. Most of what has been relegated to “foreplay” in our culture is a significant and necessary component of full arousal and pleasurable sex for women. It prepares our brain and body for orgasm and penetration.
A regular self-pleasure practice is so important for all women, but especially if you are experiencing pain during or after sex, pelvic floor tension or dysfunction, or recovering from trauma or negative sexual experiences. It’s so much easier to understand what your own body needs and desires when you can focus 100% on yourself. An incredible amount of healing and learning can happen.
Women are not confusing, their orgasms are not difficult, we are just not given good information.
The good news is you can learn everything you need to know by making time for your pleasure and trusting your body.
Reason #3: Tensing during orgasm (Solution: Retrain your brain and body to relax into orgasm)
Learning how to relax into orgasm can not only eliminate pain, tension, and spasms afterwards, but lead to more pleasure and fuller orgasmic experiences!
It is seriously life changing in the best possible way.
What I have seen in myself and with my clients is that most women carry unconscious patterns of tensing around pleasure, along with a learned habit of tensing to orgasm that not only can overly contract pelvic floor muscles, but blocks energy flow in our body, limiting our orgasmic potential, and leading to discomfort and pain after sex.
Full body orgasms happen when you soften into pleasure and allow the energy to expand and move in your body.
During your self-pleasure practice is the perfect time to experiment with softening your body. Slow down, breathe, and welcome the sensations of pleasure. Relax your pelvic floor. With practice you will retrain your brain and body to relax and expand into fuller, deeper, and longer lasting orgasms.
From my perspective, the only problem women are really having around sex is living in a culture that doesn’t understand female pleasure and that values men’s sexual experience over women’s.
The good news is, you can free yourself from this conditioning and from the pain it causes.
Take the time to get curious and learn about your amazing body. When dealing with pain after sex, women can take it as an opportunity to slow down, and tune in. Use it as a chance to learn more about yourself… both on your own and with your partner.