There are two incidents involving my patients in the ended year that I will live to remember.
In one case, a newly wed lady was brought to me by her mother in law. She had wedded the previous day and spent the night at home hopping to proceed on honeymoon thereafter. But the night was unbearable and the trip had to be cancelled and a doctor consulted.
In a second incident, a young man beat up his girlfriend on their first night together and the girl had to be rescued from the irate young man by the neighbours. The poor girl came to see me the next day distraught.
In both cases the two young women could not withstand sex. It was extremely painful. Maybe you do not understand this because you have enjoyed sex all your life but it happens: some women get unbearable pain during sex.
Some persevere, others cry, some just take off and never want to try again.
Self inflicted pain
Unfortunately many men will not understand what the lady is going through. It is in fact said that men feel heroic when the woman is writhing in pain. They mistake this for unbearable pleasure! No wonder some ladies just choose to take off … literally!
Occurrence of some pain the very first time a woman has sex may be normal. Such a woman is a virgin and has a thin membrane covering most of the vaginal opening. This membrane, also called the hymen, stretches and even tears the first time sex happens and this causes pain.
This should however end after the first, second or third attempt at sex.
There is another common cause of pain; what I may call self-inflicted pain. There is this evil called douching. It is the physical cleaning of the vagina. In an attempt to be really clean, some women douche with soap, detergents and other chemicals. Some even put perfume in the vagina.
The sensitive vaginal tissue reacts to over cleaning even just with water alone, so adding chemicals worsens the situation. Once the irritation and inflammation has happened, the sore vagina gets really painful at sex.
But for others it is the case of inadequate preparation for sexual penetration that causes pain. Foreplay helps the woman relax and leads to lubrication of the vagina.
Inadequate foreplay means that sexual penetration will happen when the vagina is dry and when the woman is not relaxed. A tense woman with a dry vagina feels unbearable pain during sex because of friction and anxiety.
Of course there are communities that believe that sex should be dry. They believe that a man will enjoy sex more when the woman is dry and that women should not enjoy sex; that it is better for the woman to agonise.
This is sad. In such communities herbs are used to dry up the vagina and old women teach young ones how to do this. Sex is a nightmare for the woman in such communities.
Give time after delivery
An unusual cause of pain in sex is stimulation of the clitoris. For most women gently rubbing on the clitoris causes pleasure. For others it causes great pain. An unknowing man may insist on rubbing the clitoris even when the woman is in agony.
Infections of the vagina, cervix and pelvis also cause inflammation. When this happens, sex can be painful. In addition to painful sex, other symptoms of infection may occur including smelly discharge, itchiness, and pain even when there is no sex.
One absurd cause of pain is sex before complete healing following delivery. For some reason some people just want to have sex immediately the woman leaves hospital after delivery. This is despite the fact that a lot of injuries happen to the birth canal during delivery and most women will have raw wounds and stitches that need up to six weeks to heal.
A number of women have been re-admitted to hospital after delivery with torn stitches and infections because of this sad scenario.
Let’s talk about sex
Occasionally growths in the pelvis, uterus or vagina can cause pain during sex. Although most of these growths are not cancerous, some can be. Most such growths occur in internal reproductive organs, especially in the ovaries and the uterus. Of these, fibroids are the commonest.
Then there are women who just get spontaneous involuntary spasms of vaginal muscles during sex. This is called vaginismus. It causes terrible pain during sex.
All said and done, how do you handle painful sex? First, it is important to discuss it openly with your partner. Let him not feel heroic when you are in pain.
Secondly, he should agree on adequate foreplay. If not sure of how to do foreplay, both of you should seek services of a sex therapist. Avoid obvious causes of painful sex such as douching or having sex before healing following delivery.
Also very important, consult a health worker and be examined so that if there are infections or growths they can be treated.
Just remember that painful sex is not normal and should be treated as soon as it is noted.
Source: Daily Nation