Why do I experience discomfort during sex and what should I do?

Symptom Database

Sexual discomfort or pain during intercourse is a common issue that many individuals experience at some point in their lives. It can be a distressing and frustrating problem that affects both men and women. If you find yourself experiencing discomfort during sex, it is essential to understand the possible causes and seek appropriate solutions. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind painful intercourse and provide valuable insights on how to find relief.

Understanding Discomfort During Sex

Discomfort during sex, also known as sexual pain or painful intercourse, refers to any physical or emotional discomfort experienced during sexual activity. It can manifest as a sharp or burning sensation, aching, or even a feeling of pressure. This discomfort can occur in various areas, including the genitals, pelvis, or even the entire body.

Possible Causes of Sexual Discomfort

There are several potential causes for pain during sex, and it is crucial to identify the underlying issue to find appropriate solutions. Some common causes include:

  • Insufficient lubrication: Inadequate lubrication can lead to friction and discomfort during intercourse. This can be due to hormonal changes, certain medications, or insufficient arousal.
  • Vaginal infections: Infections such as yeast infections or urinary tract infections can cause pain during sex. These infections often come with additional symptoms like itching, burning, or unusual discharge.
  • Endometriosis: This condition occurs when the tissue lining the uterus grows outside of it. It can cause severe pelvic pain during sex and menstruation.
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs): Certain STIs, such as genital herpes or chlamydia, can cause discomfort or pain during intercourse.
  • Pelvic floor dysfunction: Weak or tight pelvic floor muscles can contribute to pain during sex. This can be a result of childbirth, trauma, or certain medical conditions.
  • Psychological factors: Stress, anxiety, past trauma, or relationship issues can all contribute to sexual discomfort.

Seeking Relief from Sexual Discomfort

If you are experiencing discomfort during sex, it is essential to address the issue rather than ignoring or avoiding it. Here are some steps you can take to find relief:

1. Communicate with your partner

Open and honest communication with your partner is crucial when dealing with sexual discomfort. Discuss your concerns, fears, and any physical sensations you experience during sex. Your partner’s support and understanding can make a significant difference in finding a solution together.

2. Consult a healthcare professional

If the discomfort persists or becomes increasingly severe, it is advisable to seek medical advice. A healthcare professional, such as a gynecologist or urologist, can help identify the underlying cause and recommend appropriate treatment options.

3. Explore lubrication options

If insufficient lubrication is the cause of your discomfort, using a water-based lubricant can significantly improve your sexual experience. Experiment with different brands and types to find the one that works best for you.

4. Treat underlying infections or conditions

If your discomfort is due to a vaginal infection or a medical condition like endometriosis, following the prescribed treatment plan is crucial. This may involve medications, lifestyle changes, or even surgery, depending on the specific condition.

5. Pelvic floor exercises

If pelvic floor dysfunction is contributing to your discomfort, performing pelvic floor exercises can help strengthen or relax the muscles. These exercises, also known as Kegels, can be done discreetly and have been shown to improve sexual function.

6. Psychological support

If psychological factors are at play, seeking therapy or counseling can be beneficial. A trained professional can help you address any emotional or psychological barriers that may be contributing to your discomfort during sex.


Experiencing discomfort during sex can be a challenging and distressing issue. However, it is essential to remember that you are not alone, and there are solutions available. By understanding the possible causes and seeking appropriate help, you can find relief and enjoy a fulfilling and pleasurable sex life. Remember to communicate openly with your partner, consult a healthcare professional, and explore various treatment options. With patience and persistence, you can overcome sexual discomfort and experience the pleasure and intimacy you deserve.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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