NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Friday, December 16, 2022

Getting Help in Sex Therapy For Painful Sex

Painful sex is a lot more common than most people think: Approximately 1 in 5 women experience pain during sex.  

Even though it's a common problem, many general practitioners and gynecologists fail to ask women about it during regularly exams.  This is especially problematic when women feel too ashamed to mention it during medical exams.

Get Help in Sex Therapy For Painful Sex

Experiencing painful sex can be confusing, emotionally traumatic and create problems in intimate relationships, especially when the cause of the pain isn't understood.

Sex therapy can help (see my article: What is Sex Therapy?).  More about this later.

What Are the Different Types of Sexual Pain Experienced By Women?
Women can experience different types of sexual pain, including but not limited to:
  • Anxiety during sex which makes it difficult to relax and causes pelvic muscles to tighten
  • Lack of lubrication due to insufficient sexual foreplay
  • Lack of estrogen
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Vaginal atrophy
  • Pelvic pain due to weak core muscles
  • Vulva pain when the vulva is touched  (the vulva is the outer part of female genitals, including labia majora, labia minora and the clitoris)
  • Pain during sexual penetration (penis in vagina or PIV sex)
  • Painful orgasms
  • Vulvodynia (chronic vulvar pain without an identifiable cause)
  • Vaginismus (the involuntary contraction of the pelvic floor muscles in response to vaginal penetration, including inserting a tampon, toy or penis)
  • Dyspareunia (pain before, during or after sex)
  • Chronic yeast infections
  • Postpartum
  • Deep vaginal pain around the cervix
  • Endometriosis
  • Interstitial cystitis (chronic bladder condition with recurring pain in the bladder and pelvic area)
  • Lack of sex education
  • Other pelvic floor problems
  • Other medical and/or psychological issues
Medical Treatment
If you are experiencing painful sex, you shouldn't ignore it.  Over time, it can get worse.

The first place to start is getting medical help.

Seek help from a medical doctor who is knowledgeable about painful sex.  You can see a primary care physician, a gynecologist or a urologist.  Just make sure the doctor you choose deals with women's painful sex.

Pelvic Floor Treatment
Many women who experience painful sex benefit from seeking help from a physical therapist who specializes in pelvic floor issues.  

Since not all physical therapists are trained to deal with pelvic floor problems, it's important that you ask beforehand to make sure you get appropriate help.

How Can Sex Therapy Help?
Women who experience anxiety or other psychological issues before, during or after sex can benefit from working with a sex therapist who can help them to overcome emotions that interfere with sex.

Women in sex therapy can also learn to incorporate the exercises they learned in physical therapy into their routine at home (see my article: What Are the Most Common Misconceptions About Sex Therapy?).

A sex therapist can help clients to have better sex by learning to use mindfulness.

Partners of women who have pain during sex often don't understand the problem. A skilled sex therapist can also work with a woman and her partner so that the partner understands the problems involved with painful sex, how to overcome these problems, and how to improve their sex life overall.

About Me
I am a licensed New York City psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT, Somatic Experiencing and a Sex Therapist.

I work with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.