Sex Should not Hurt!

I am a 17-year-old girl, and I want to know why it hurts so much when my boyfriend and I have sex?

Sex Should not Hurt!

Dr. Greene’s Answer:

Sex hurts? How unsettling! And much more common than you might imagine. Doctors have a name for this; we call it dyspareunia (pronounced dis-pah-ROO-ne-ah). Most women have gone through a stage in which intercourse is painful; in up to a third of women, this has lasted a long time. 1 There are many reasons why having sex can hurt.

Before we look at some of the more common reasons, I’d like to say a word about communication. Sometimes sex is hard to talk about. I’ m very glad you asked your question here. Dyspareunia can be solved, one way or another, for people who are willing to ask about it.

One of the key things to learn during your current difficulties is that it’s important to talk with your partner about what is going on. Tell your boyfriend why you like him and what feels good when you are together. But also tell him when something hurts. Learning to work together is an important part of sex.

What might be causing the pain depends on whether sex has always hurt or if this is a recent development; whether it hurts every time or only sometimes; and (perhaps most importantly) whether you feel the greatest pain when the penis first enters or once it is in deeply.

If you hurt as the penis first enters, the most common problem is not enough lubrication. Friction in this sensitive area can hurt! Your organs normally get wet and slippery as part of sexual arousal. Taking more time for sexual play before intercourse is often all that is needed to turn a painful experience into a pleasant one. Too fast is usually too dry.

Fear, too, can decrease lubrication. Fear of infection, fear of pregnancy, and fear about the relationship are all common. Abuse or incest can leave you dry until the real hurt is healed.

A water-based lubricant (do not use lotion, baby oil, or Vaseline) you pick up at the drugstore can work wonders, but don’t ignore the reason for decreased lubrication, if you know what it is.

Pain on insertion might also come from inflamed external genitals. The tissue might be inflamed from a yeast infection, warts, herpes, or some other infection. Sometimes the area is tender from a benign cyst called a Bartholin’s gland cyst. All of these conditions require medical treatment.

Intercourse can also remain painful as long as the hymen is partly intact. If you can insert a tampon comfortably, a mechanical obstruction is not likely.

Pain with deep penetration usually comes from the deeper organs being tender. This includes the ovaries, uterus, bladder, and even the intestines. At your age, the most common reasons for deep pain are ovarian cysts, a retroverted uterus (positioned so it gets bumped during intercourse), abdominal adhesions (in people who have had abdominal surgery), and an infection called pelvic inflammatory disease. Many other, less common conditions (such as inflammatory bowel disease) can also make you hurt. In some positions (such as lying on the side), penetration is not as deep, and sex might be more comfortable.

But if the hurting doesn’t improve quickly, you’ll also need to talk to your doctor about the pain. Be sure to tell them whether the pain has always been there or is new. Describe what hurts most and when. Work together to identify the cause. Don’ t stop asking about this until you understand why sex hurts and until you’ve gotten relief from the pain. Having sex shouldn’t have to hurt.
Footnote References:
1 Glatt, AE, Zinner SH, McCormack WM. The prevalence of dysparenia. Obstet Gynecol 1990;75:433.

Dr. Alan Greene

Dr. Greene is the founder of DrGreene.com (cited by the AMA as “the pioneer physician Web site”), a practicing pediatrician, father of four, & author of Raising Baby Green & Feeding Baby Green. He appears frequently in the media including such venues as the The New York Times, the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, & the Dr. Oz Show.

  1. sara

    I just started having sex around 10 days ago and we have been doing it pretty close to everyday. But it hurts when he first puts it in. He goes slow and it stops so we speed up but I feel pressure inside and its uncomfortable. When he goes in it feels like its pulling everything with it inside even if its not dry and then when he pulls out it feels like a suction. Then when he goes in deep it feels like he is hitting something in there like my cervix or something idk. Sometimes is feels good but if he goes to fast or to much thrust it hurts and I don’t want it to hurt so we can have fun and go rough .. but It mainly hurts when we do missionary with him on top, but it doesn’t stop hurting, but when I’m on top it hurt a little but then goes away. We don’t have any lubricants but we use saliva on him and it goes in easy but kinda hurts, some days are worse than others. Then after sometimes it feels like I have been rubbed really bad even if is not dry down there. Is this going to continue or will is go away eventually ??

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  2. sharon matsemela

    Sharon Matsemela. I’m also hevin d same problem. It hurts a lot each nd every time we have sex. Is this becoz we are in LDR or I have a problem. Phela sex xud not hurt. I haven’t had sex in 3months now.

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  3. sheila mae

    Every time I’m having sex with my boyfriend I feel pain, but I don’t have cut. And I am also weat, but I’m curious why I feel pain??? Someone can you help me!!!! Please! I really need help. I don’t know what to do!!!

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  4. Kimberly

    Hi I’m 16 and when I first had sex it hurt a lot it felt like it tore, every time I have sex I bleed and it hurts what should I do?

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  5. marvin

    Since the doctor put a sling in my wife, it has gotten more an more painful for both of us. I can’t even get the head inserted, she makes frightening faces and almost cries. It feels like it is cutting in to my dick and it hurts for days. I need sexual intercourse pain free. Don’t know what to do.

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  6. roxanne kaye

    My pain started when I took Yasmine. It gave me chest pain so I stopped it. I took the pills for 2 years. I looked it up and it said it relines the lining in you vagina and since I stopped the pills it hurts so bad. I want to have sex, but I can’t take the pain. Before the pills I was sexually active a lot with one man, but I barely have sex once a week. What can I do?

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  7. angela

    I would like love life back it hurt when sex and 47 years old

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  8. liz

    I’ve only had this problem with this partner. I’ve been with him 2.5 years and problem started 6 months ago. We use plenty of lube and condoms. I’ve been to the doctors. They said deep internal vaginosis. I tried treatment. Nothing. They said try thrush. I did. Nothing. I just think maybe it’s going to hurt now. So I think about it and it puts me off. I try to relax but its hard when your worried.

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  9. poochie

    I am 19 and having the same problem you all are having. For some reason when my boyfriend sticks his penis in side of me I can feel pain, but once he starts stroking I feel nothing unless he’s ruff/pounding it. I have no idea what it is. It’s been like this ever since I started having sex. He doesn’t force it. We use lots of lubricant. It has to be extra wet, but still there’s pain when we first start, then I can’t feel anything. Never heard of it before and was to shy to ask about it.

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  10. jane

    When I have deep sex it really hurts as if the end of the penis is touching something, it has always been the same so I asked the doctors and she said my womb is probably low, is there anything I can do to stop it being painful apart from different positions?

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  11. Rose

    I’m 23 years old and I’m sexually active, but every time I and my boyfriend have sex it hurts. Is there something really wrong with me? I wasn’t sexually abused, but why does it hurt?

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    • Fatima Siddiqui

      I am 23 yrs old and my boyfriend is 21 yrs old …..so while doing long time sex with my boyfriend I feel pain in my vagina when his penis enter in my anus in 3rd or 4th time during sex. So it might be any problem for us…..

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  12. Jennifer smith

    I’m 27 years old and I have 3 kids. Why does it hurt to have sex? I even got my tubes tied, but why dose it hurt to have sex? Please tell me. Thank you so much.

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    • Some time in delivery of babies the doctor takes a few “extra stitches” to tighten the opening to the vagina. This keeps the opening to the vagina from becoming too stretched out. However, it can lead to issues of dryness causing sex to be painful. If this is the case for you, your partner will need to go slow, be gentle and you will likely need to use a lubricant.

      This may not be your issue at all, but wanted to share this information in case it might be helpful

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  13. Jill

    I had a miscarriage over a year ago, it resulted in me having a dnc. Ever since the procedure sex is very painful. I don’t know what to do, I spoke to my doctor but everything they have done from ultra sounds to ct scans nothing shows that there is anything wrong.

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  14. Nicole

    Hi Dr Greene,

    Just recently I have a new sexual partner. He is just a little bit bigger than the person I was with for over three years. Deep penetration is very painful with him. Could that be because I am not used to him yet? Sex has never been painful for me.

    Thanks!

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  15. ari

    i lost my virginity but i couldnt have sex because it hurts way too much and everytime i want to have sex i stop my boyfriend because i cant stand sex. what should i do? should i bear it or what?
    thanks

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  16. Judith

    I cant stand sex. When my boyfriend’s penis goes inside me, I feel pain and I ask him to stop, but some time I just bear it. The pain has always been there and my boyfriend is a sex maniac. What do I do?

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    • Hi Judith,

      I recommend you visit your ObGyn. Likely she can help you. This might include using vaginal dilators and lubricants to make sex less painful, but you should be checked by a physician. Sex should never be painful.

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    • sheila mae

      Is your vagina better now? What did you do?? Just because I have the same problem as you….

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  17. destiny brown

    I am 20 and have a baby, but every time I have sex it hurts. It hurts to put in a tampon. I don’t no why. I asked my Dr. and he didn’t check anything. He just said I could be tense, but I know that’s not it. I just don’t understand.

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  18. Caroline

    I also have problems, i’m also 17 i went back and forth to my doctor only to be told theres nothing wrong with me an that its all psychological.. i’m a bit lost for what to do as its a bit disheartening for both me and my boyfriend

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  19. jenny wood

    i am having problem also it hurts when i have sex in certain position i know the feeling and i am a grow woman

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    • victoria

      Me to

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