There are a few reasons that sex might be uncomfortable or hurt sometimes. Don’t try to tough it out. Pain is the body’s signal that something isn’t right!
If you notice that you feel pain or burning when you’re having sexual intercourse, you might have a vaginal infection. Common vaginal infections include yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, and trichomoniasis. If you notice a vaginal odor or discharge that isn’t normal for you, pain when you urinate (pee), or itching in your vaginal area, make an appointment with your health care provider. Some of these infections can be shared with sexual partners, so get checked out!
Vulvodynia is a treatable condition that causes discomfort around the vaginal opening however only a health care provider (HCP) can determine if you have this condition. Sometimes, sex can be painful simply because the inside of your vagina is dry, and the movement of sex causes irritation or pain. You may have noticed that your vagina makes its own lubricant (fluid), and your body may make more of it during times when you’re feeling sexually excited or turned on. Taking things slowly and not rushing to intercourse before you’re ready can help give your vagina a chance to make more of that fluid.
If you’re having sex (vaginal intercourse) with guys, be sure to ALWAYS use a condom to help prevent STIs and pregnancy. Adding some lubricant (“lube”) can help keep sex comfortable and decrease chances of the condom breaking. Most drugstores sell lube right next to the condoms – look for something simple (avoid flavored lube, or lube that is supposed to be warming or numbing). Most latex condoms are also packaged with a small amount of lube, and this can help keep things comfortable. NEVER use oil, lotion, or petroleum jelly (Vaseline) as a lube – they can cause the condom to break!
Finally, you might be sensitive to latex, which is what most condoms are made of, or to the spermicide (sperm-killing liquid) that is put on some condoms. You can try a polyurethane condom (including the female condom) and see if that helps. If you continue to have discomfort, definitely talk with your health care provider.