Pain with Sex or other Sexual Frustrations? Your Pelvic Floor may be the culprit.

Valentine’s Day just passed and it's the time of year when people want to spice up their sex lives and connecting deeper with their partners. Unfortunately, many people struggle with sexual pain or other dysfunction which can make even the basic enjoyment of sex a hard thing to do.



Nearly 75% of women experience painful sex, known as dyspareunia, at some point in their lives. Dyspareunia can stem from many causes, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.1 Among the causes of dyspareunia are too much tension in the muscles of the pelvis, increased nerve sensitivity in the pelvis, prior trauma to the area, or environmental factors like the chemicals in condoms, lube, or toys.



Postpartum

More than half of people who have given birth experience pain with sex during their first three months postpartum.2 Of those people who reported painful sex at six months after childbirth, one-third reported that the condition persisted at 18 months postpartum.1

Births via C-section and certain assisted vaginal births have also been linked to long-term sexual problems.1

Other Causes

It isn’t just limited to postpartum. Forty percent of those in peri- and post-menopause may experience pain with sex.3 Ultimately, pain or difficulties with sex can be encountered regardless of whether you have had a child and regardless of age, gender, or hormonal status. Many people born with male reproductive systems also have pain with sex starting anywhere from adolescence to 65+ years.


Sadly, many people assume that pain with sex is something that they just have to deal with or is their “normal” if they have never experienced anything different. Others just don’t know who to ask about these types of problems. And for those in postpartum who have voiced their concerns to their trusted health care providers, some have been medically recommended to just “relax” or "drink some wine".


The Good News

Many people are surprised to find out that they can change their experience and have the level of intimacy they desire with their partner.


Pelvic Health Physical Therapy has been shown to help with sexual function and with these types of situations.4


Sex is supposed to be fun, enjoyable, and fulfilling, whatever that may look like for you. If you are experiencing pain or other difficulties with sex, please know that these concerns are more common than you think. Do not suffer in silence. There is help available if you would like to improve your situation and enjoy your intimacy to the fullest.


Article originally featured in Rivervale Neighbors Magazine.


Arántzazu "Zazu" Cioce is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and Pelvic Health Expert. She owns Phoenix Physical Therapy, a gym-based and mobile health clinic outside of New York City. Curious about your pelvic health? Click HERE to take a free Pelvic Health Quiz and learn about your Pelvic Floor today.



References:

  1. https://www.webmd.com/women/news/20150205/sexual-pain-common-after-childbirth-study-finds##1

  2. Barrett, G., Pendry, E., Peacock, J., Victor, C., Thakar, R. and Manyonda, I. (2000), Women's sexual health after childbirth. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 107: 186-195. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1471-0528.2000.tb11689.x

  3. Castelo-Branco C, Cancelo MJ, Villero J, Nohales F, Juliá MD. Management of post-menopausal vaginal atrophy and atrophic vaginitis. Maturitas. 2005 Nov 15;52 Suppl 1:S46-52. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2005.06.014. Epub 2005 Sep 1. PMID: 16139449.

  4. Ghaderi F, Bastani P, Hajebrahimi S, Jafarabadi MA, Berghmans B. Pelvic floor rehabilitation in the treatment of women with dyspareunia: a randomized controlled clinical trial. Int Urogynecol J. 2019;30(11):1849-1855. doi:10.1007/s00192-019-04019-3

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