Relationship Intimacy translates through a state of warmth and closeness that can be emotional and physical.
Painful intercourse (dyspareunia) can affect both, men and women but it is most common in women. Many times if this is consistent, it can lead to relationship problems, lack of intimacy, distress and low body image.
Living in our days when image and social media have full control of our lives, most women refuse to acknowledge or talk about it, either blaming themselves or ignore that there is a problem.
Dyspareunia can be caused by multiple factors, physical, psychological or a combination of both.
Physical causes are usually the most common and given the location of the pain can dictate if the problem is structural, inflammatory, hormonal or a combination of all three.
Few examples of physical causes are pain with penetration ( vaginismus, vaginal dryness, genital injuries or pelvic floor surgeries), inflammation and /or infection (vulvodynia, yeast infections, urinary tract infections, STI’s) and hormonal changes that can cause skin thinning and lacerations.
Furthermore, there are some medical conditions that can cause painful intercourse and that needs to be addressed like:
- Interstitial Cystitis
- Irritable Bowell Syndrome (IBS)
- Uterine Prolapse
- Ovarian cyst
Psychological causes can be very detrimental if there is a lack of understanding and communication between partners. These can include history of sexual abuse or trauma, increased stress level, anxiety, and depression.
Stress and anxiety can affect the pelvic floor by tightening the muscles and disturbing the breathing – pelvic floor pattern.
Painful intercourse is often accompanied by other pelvic floor symptoms, including urinary issues, low back or hip pain, painful periods or GI problems. You may not even realize these different issues all stem from the same underlying cause.
To remedy the situation to improve the intimacy between partners, they must both be open to the possibility of treatment. Medical professionals are educated and equipped with the knowledge to properly diagnose and treat such situations.
If all other medical conditions are taking care of, here are some tips to improve your intimacy through pelvic health education:
Pelvic floor exercises:
- pelvic floor exercises (Kegel ): with dyspareunia Kegel should focus on relaxing /stretching the pelvic floor ( baring down phase) as much as contracting and lifting
- Squats and Bridges: Prepare the hips, back and pelvic floor for the necessary strength, mobility, and flexibility for a pain-free and a stronger orgasm
- Breathing techniques: increase diaphragmatic breathing and coordinate that with pelvic floor contraction and relaxation to increase blood flow to the pelvic floor
- Use a lubricant: water-based lubricant can help with dryness and pain
- Engage in longer foreplay to help get your brain and body in tune and ready
- Increase communication between partners
Choose comfortable positions that minimize pain
Dr. Monica Saliu, PT DPT, of Tribeca Physical Therapy is a women’s health champion. Tribeca Physical Therapy is officially reopened for in-person physical therapy sessions and continues to offer Telehealth PT or Virtual PT. Call us at 2124068080 or message us and book your first session free.