Ask A Married Woman: When Sex Physically Hurts
Editor’s Note: This month we are answering our readers’ questions to married women. So far we’ve talked about whether or not you should let a guy know you’re interested in him, and how, as a married woman, you’ve gone from virgin to sexy and seductive. Today’s question is answered by Rachel Vander Ley. I want to note to all you single women out there, please do not let this article cause you one ounce of worry. I know that had I read it pre-sex, I would have freaked out. Physical pain is not something to be expected for the majority, but it does exist for some women, so we do want to discuss it! Don’t let your mind sit and worry on this bridge unless you come to it one day. You can find Rachel on Twitter at @rachieannie. – Lauren
QUESTION: I recently got married in January and I am definitely loving married life. But we have had a lot of trouble with sex. It hurts me all the time and I am just struggling to understand why something that I thought was supposed to be a beautiful gift from God is something that is so painful for me. I end up in tears every time. I am getting discouraged which also make it harder to want to have sex. And because it hurts me so much, my husband doesn’t like doing it anymore either. He hates seeing me cry. I was just wondering if you would have any insight on why something that was meant to be a great gift would be so painful for so long? It makes me feel like I did something wrong. I am struggling with this emotionally and physically.
RACHEL: I walked down the aisle 2 ½ years ago as a 25 year old woman with a healthy libido. I found my husband to be incredibly attractive and was excited to finally have that person in my life to meet all of my physical needs (because, let’s be honest, as a 25 year old missionary, I had physical needs).
Then we got to our honeymoon, and while things were good, they weren’t great. I noticed that it hurt. And yes, I had done my reading, so I knew this was a possibility. Then I talked to a married friend who said that after she went through a menstrual cycle, things evened out for her. So, I waited for that auspicious moment. And it came and went. And still the pain.
In fact, I have dealt with pain in physical intimacy for a majority of the time we have been married. Things were just starting to get ironed out and it got to the point where I wasn’t surprised when it didn’t hurt. And I got pregnant for the first time! Then, as sex began to become less painful for a second time, and I got pregnant for the second time. (Yes, that’s 2 pregnancies in 2 ½ yrs. So things are “working.”)
So, dear heart, when I say I understand what you’re going through, know that I have a glimpse.
On a practical, physical side, there are some tactics that have worked for me including hot baths, Advil, the liberal use of lubricant, and Tucks Medicated Pads (technically they are for hemorrhoids, but post-partum women swear by them. You can find them in the pain relief aisle at most stores). Also, I’ve found that I cannot sustain the same position for very long, so we experiment quite a bit in that area. Unfortunately, what works one time is not guaranteed to work the next, so it is definitely a journey.
Make sure you consult your gynecologist. During a routine postpartum exam, I mentioned some of these issues to my doctor, and he found some physical explanations for what was going on. It helped me to know where my body was coming from. Don’t be afraid to go, to be honest with how you’re feeling, and to be specific. Doctors are there to help.
However, it isn’t necessarily the physical impact that hurts the worst. This situation carries a big emotional wallop that can trample you like a herd of elephants.
As someone who grew up in conservative Christian circles, I have found myself questioning why God is punishing me this way. Was it because we went too far before we got married? Because we enjoyed making out a little more than watching the movie? Is this something we have to deal with forever? But, I have to remind myself that our God is not a God of punishment. He is a God of grace. And forgiveness. And love.
Do I think you have some terrible sin in your past that is causing this current pain? No, I do not. Is there an easy fix, an easy prayer, or an easy cliché that can be applied to this situation? Well, if you find one, PLEASE let me know!
In the meantime, you and your husband are left to deal with the here and now. And it is hard.
The biggest asset to your situation is open and honest communication between the two of you. There are times where my husband is in the mood, and all I can think of is the possibility of facing hours of pain afterwards. Instead of just brushing him off without giving him a reason, I try to tell him why I am not currently in the mood to reciprocate. I will be the first to admit that I am not stellar in this area, but it is something I am trying to work on. It is simply not fair to him to keep him in the dark.
Or, we’re in the midst of some good old fashioned fun, and something has to change. It can be really hard to be open and honest at that time, because obviously it is a vulnerable time for both of us. A part of me just wants to suck it up and satisfy him at that moment. But, that’s not fair to either of us.
So, no matter how hard it gets, or how awkward, or how much you ugly cry, you have to just talk. And talk. And try different techniques. And maybe step back from the situation for the night, and come back to it another time.
Sex is beautiful. And messy. And fun. And it can feel really, really awesome. And for some of us, it can really, really hurt.
I wish I could sit here and promise you that in X amount of months, or after X amount of times, the pain will disappear and the two of you will tumble into an amazing sex life that just won’t quit.
I wish I could tell you that this pain will disappear and one day you will look back and barely remember it.
But I can’t.
I wish I could be sitting with you in person, sipping a cup of coffee and hugging you while you spill it all out.
But I can’t.
So, this is all I have for you. Some tips, some encouragement. It’s hard. So very hard. Marriage (and sex) does not always look like the movies or read like the books. Your story is yours alone, pain and all. I don’t know how it will end, but know that I am rooting for you and your husband.
And if you would like to talk about this more in detail, PLEASE feel free to contact me via Twitter (@rachieannie) or ask for my email. I can be as open as you need me to be in a setting that is slightly more private.
NOTE: In case you missed it at the top: I want to note to all you single women out there, please do not let this article cause you one ounce of worry. I know that had I read it pre-sex, I would have freaked out. Physical pain is not something to be expected for the majority, but it does for some women, so we do want to discuss it! Don’t let your mind sit and worry on this bridge unless you happen come to it one day.
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