Having sex should be like a roller coaster. It should be thrilling, exciting, full of twists and turns (pun intended), and building up to a much-awaited climax. It should NOT be the part where you feel giddy, are in physical pain, and puking everywhere. However, for some women, sex is no pleasure and all pain. These women suffer from Sexual Pain Disorders, and boy does it hurt.
missmalini.com spoke to Dr. Devika Chopra, an Obstetrician & Gynecologist who is an Oxford graduate with over 11 years of experience. She operates out of Mumbai and has a lot of experience with Sexual Pain Disorders.
When asked about just how painful these can be, she said:
The pain caused by these conditions can vary from the feeling of a toothache to proper labour pain. Some women have even fainted because of it.
What Are Sexual Pain Disorders?
Sexual Pain Disorders are pain disorders caused by sexual activity or even provoked by the mere thought of it. They make having sex painful. The 3 most common ones are:
Dyspareunia– Sharp and intense vaginal pain during sexual intercourse
Vulvodynia– Pain in the vulva caused by touching or even the thought of touching it
Vaginismus– Pelvic muscle contractions that cause severe pain during sex
What Causes Them?
Dr. Chopra lists many causes of sexual pain disorders. They can be anatomical, dermatological, caused by external infections, and in most cases, psychological. She says, “Usually they are caused by deep-rooted psychological issues that stem from past sexual trauma like sexual abuse or violence.” The trauma caused by rape and sexual abuse is very difficult to overcome and can manifest itself physically. Why didn’t we learn about this in Biology?
Effects on Mental Health
Dr. Chopra says that Sexual Pain Disorders greatly affect the patient’s mental health. She adds:
Women who suffer from Sexual Pain Disorders are often ashamed to talk about it to their partners, family, friends and even doctors as it is linked to deep-rooted psychological issues. Many women who have been raped or abused feel impure and dirty, and the thought of penetration scares them. This results in low self confidence, low self esteem and constant self depreciation.
How Should One Deal With It?
Dr.Chopra says that there are treatments available, such as dilator treatment, and seeing a doctor, either a gynecologist or a therapist is very important. She adds, “If your partner is suffering from a sexual pain disorder then understanding, being patient and not getting frustrated can lead to more trust in the relationship and can definitely help treatment”
With respect to getting pregnant, IVF is your best bet. If the very thought of penetrative sex causes discomfort, getting pregnant the natural way will be extremely hard and painful. In such cases, IVF or In Vitro Fertilization is the recommended option.
Sexual Pain Disorders should not be ignored. No one should feel ashamed or embarrassed to talk about them. They are as real and as serious a problem as any other medical condition. Dr. Chopra adds:
Physicality is important, sex is important but so is your mental health. What pain you experience is real and is important. Help is out there and talk about your pain, talk about your experience, to your doctor or partner. Remember that help is out there and you’re not alone.