Although many women experience sexual pain of some sort during their lives, many live with it on a regular basis, often embarrassed or unsure of how to seek out help. Pelvic pain (generally referred to as dyspareunia) can occur for varying reasons such as lack of lubrication, recovery from surgery, injury, trauma, an infection, or Vaginismus. What is first needed in healing pelvic pain and trauma, is to be open to discuss the issue with a medical provider. The books mentioned below provide a great start to understanding your situation and learning how to take the next step.
How to talk with your medical provider
In both books When Sex Hurts and Healing Painful Sex, an entire section is devoted to how to talk about the pain you are experiencing with a doctor. They give examples of women who nearly gave up trying to find relief after their doctors ignored their complaints. If your doctor minimizes or trivializes your pain, it’s time to either speak up for yourself or seek the help of a doctor who is willing to listen to you. This could be a frustrating process but in the long run, well worth the trouble in healing pelvic pain. It is important to realize that the pain you are experiencing is real and causing you to miss out on an entire segment of your life’s experience as a passionate, sexual being. Authors Dr. Deborah Coady and Nancy Fish provide useful resources to help you find someone who will listen.
Sometimes, it can be so simple
For many cases, the solution may be as simple as lubrication. As estrogen levels fluctuate during and after pregnancy and during and after menopause, simply having lubricant on hand can not only assist with intercourse but also decrease the stress that comes with anticipating a possibly painful experience. A lube launcher, which helps insert lubricant internally, can lubricate more fully and help lubrication last throughout intercourse.
In other cases, the situation could be neurologic or orthopedic. In Healing Painful Sex, the authors discuss conditions extensively —allowing you to become more fully aware of the wide range of issues that could exist. This book is a great resource to educate yourself on what you might be experiencing and can serve as a reference before speaking to your doctor. With examples in hand, can they still pretend that it’s “all in your head?” When Sex Hurts: A Woman’s Guide to Banishing Sexual Pain also reviews numerous diagnoses along with potential treatments and medications. The book is broken up nicely into three parts that attend to becoming aware of and seeking help for your pain, diagnosing and healing pelvic pain and learning to live after your pain.
Recovery from trauma
Both When Sex Hurts and Healing Painful Sex touch on the subject of trauma and how past trauma can lead to an increase in pelvic pain whether through physical damage, psychological trauma or stress coping issues. Healing Sex, by Staci Haines, deals entirely with recovering oneself and one’s sexuality after enduring sexual abuse. A delicate, but very real and very traumatizing subject, Haines uses her own personal experience as a survivor to address the many steps and methods to recovering oneself as a sexual creature. She provides suggestions on re-approaching sexual activity with a healthy mind and also lists many resources at the end of the book for readers to seek out additional help.