Why Painful Sex Affects Relationships More Than We Think

Nov 05, 2021

Do you experience pain during sex? Sometimes the pain comes out after giving birth, other times it is a pelvic issue. When sex is painful, it can affect a relationships more than you think. From avoiding sex altogether, to feeling like you to have to have it. These are all results from experiencing painful intercourse, and ultimately, affect our relationships.

Does this sound like you? Keep reading.


Relationship Strain

For the majority of couples, sex is an important part of a successful, happy relationship. When the experience becomes a painful one, it can put a lot of strain on the relationship. Unfortunately, this relationship aspect is often overlooked by healthcare providers. In reality, painful sex can lead to:

Avoidance - Avoiding sex and intimacy is a common reaction when the sex in painful. You’re worried that if you initiate any form of intimacy, it will ultimately lead to a painful sexual experience. In the long run, this causes a lot of distance with your partner, leading to more avoidance. It becomes a vicious cycle.

Communication Breakdowns - When you experience pain during sex, you can sometimes feel like a failure. Why does something that’s supposed to be so natural not feel right? This leads to feelings of embarrassment or shame and can cause communication issues with your partner. Avoiding sex and avoiding talking about it can disrupt your relationship, leaving you feeling as though you’re losing the connection you used to have with your partner.

Obligatory Sex - Oftentimes, women feel obligated to have sex with their partner, even if the sex causes them pelvic pain. They feel as though they’re letting their partner down if they don’t have sex. When you feel obligated to have sex, the pressure to perform well and enjoy it is at an all time high. You should never feel as though you owe anyone sex. Sex should only happen when you want it. 

Distrust of Your Body - If pain during sex is something new for you, this can result in you doubting or distrusting your body. Sexual pain brings feelings of guilt, shame and inadequacy, leaving you feeling like you’ll never experience pleasure again. Rest assured, there are solutions to this issue.

Low Libido - As soon as fear plays a role in our arousal cycle, it squashes it. If we assume or predict that sex will be potentially painful, that fear is playing a role in our arousal cycle and will decrease the desire to have it happen, leading to a low libido. 


Painful Sex Alternatives

Sex isn’t just penetration. It can be so much more beyond the patriarchal idea of what is considered “sex”, especially when penetrative sex is causing someone pain. Some pleasurable alternatives to painful, penetrative sex are:

  • Mutual Masterbation
  • Fingering
  • Grinding
  • Cunnilingus
  • Using Sex Toys
  • Etc.


Professional Help

Experiencing pain during sex is something that should be addressed be a professional. Reach out to a trusted healthcare practitioner to communicate your issue. Seeing a pelvic floor physiotherapist is also an important step to take, where they’ll look at your pelvic system and how that system can be optimized for functions of support, stability, and sex.

In addition to seeing a professional, it’s important to re-educate yourself on sex - the importance of pleasure, why penetrative sex isn’t the only option, and so much more. The Pleasure Principles helps to educate and empower women along their sexual re-education journey. 

Listen to episode #26 of The Pleasure Principles Podcast to learn more why understanding your pelvic floor is so important and hear from pelvic floor physiotherapist, Kate Roddy.



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