Why Does Sex Hurt?

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This isn’t a very nice thing to talk about, but having sex hurts. I’m not sure when it started, but pretty much every time I have sex I feel pain during it, and most of the time it hurts for a while afterwards. Is it normal to feel pain during sex? Is there anything I can do?


People experience pain during sex for many reasons. Figuring out why people feel pain during sex can actually be very complicated to answer for a number of reasons:

  • Definitions of what is pain versus what’s discomfort differ for people, and for researchers
  • Definitions of sex differ. When most people say “sex” they mean intercourse. For some people even sexual touching can cause pain, where for others it is only penetration that causes pain
  • Because we aren’t encouraged to speak openly about sex, it is likely that many people suffer in silence, so we may not know as much about sexual pain as we do about, for example, chronic back pain, or tooth pain.

The most important thing to know is that sex doesn’t have to hurt. Making sex comfortable may require creativity and patience, but most people can find a way to enjoy sex without pain.

When sex hurts it is often the result of a combination of factors, including physical and psychological ones. Something may happen in your body that hurts during sex, and then in the future you may anticipate the pain, which can amplify the experience next time.

Figuring out why sex is painful, and what to do about it, is a bit like solving a mystery (albeit a painful mystery, and one where you don’t get to have sex). You’ll want to consider both the physical and psychological causes of pain during sex.

Once you’ve explored the possible reasons for pain during sex, you may want to explore some of these tips for eliminating or reducing pain during sex.