If you ever felt pain while having sex, the first thing you need to know is that it’s not uncommon: in a 2015 research, 30% of women reported pain during intercourse.

If you sought help from a physician, you might have been diagnosed with any one of an array of disorders with names such as Dyspareunia, Vaginismus, Vulvodynia, and a few others. The causes of any of these are still a mystery.

That is, if you think of sex from the prevalent perspective of our society. Which is leaning on millennia of patriarchal traditions.

Western society’s perception of sex.

In our world, almost everywhere you come across depictions of sex, they follow a familiar narrative.

Sex has to include penetration.

Sex’s goal is male ejaculation. After the man has ejaculated, sex stops.

If the woman wants to enjoy herself, it needs to be done within this framework.

She has to be available for penetration, and if we focus on her satisfaction, it is simply in order to help facilitate the goal of getting the man to penetrate and ejaculate.

Men always want and are ready for sex.

Women only want sex in order to get something or to manipulate their male partner in some way or another.

Women‘s enjoyment of sex takes “work” or “effort”.

And if women feel pain during this process — it means that something is wrong with her, and we need to fix it.

Sex can be so many other things.

First, I want to say it loud and clear.

There is no rule book that postulates that sex has to include penetration.

If we look at women’s solo-sex habits, as concluded by Emily Nagoski’s after collating data from 60 years of research, we find that:

…the vast majority of women masturbate without vaginal penetration, most of the time.

But even partnered sex does not have to include penetration. Ask any woman that has been sexually involved with another woman and she’ll tell you: penetration is optional only.

Sex that prioritizes straightforward pleasure, doesn’t have to include anything, really.

I much prefer seeing sex as an activity in which enthusiastically consenting adults explore the pleasurable capabilities of their bodies and mind.

As a side note — pain is totally awesome when it’s sought after. When all enthusiastically consenting adults enjoy it and agree on it, pain is a welcomed sensation. In this article, though, I am not referring to this type of pain.

Do not suffer pain while having sex!

Pain is a way for our body to communicate with us and let us know that something is out of whack. Something needs our attention.

If the pain only happens during sex and does not occur at other times, we can safely assume that it’s telling us we need to pay attention to the way we have sex.

The first question that is worth investigating is, would you still feel pain if sex was practiced as an exploration of your body’s pleasure capabilities?

You can experiment by having sex in a way that removes those elements that create pain.

Only allow the type of touch that feels good. If this touch creates arousal, excitement, or a craving for more — continue. And as soon as something feels painful — stop. Revert back to pleasure.

It’s a good rule of thumb to move slowly.

So when you do encounter pain, it most probably won’t be excruciating, and you could go back into your pleasure zone relatively easily.

When you go back to your pleasure, I would also highly recommend that you focus on relaxing. Relax your muscles whenever you feel them tense.

Our muscles tend to tense themselves when we feel excited — it’s natural. But when we want to work with our pain, it’s better to relax and take a few deeper than normal breaths before we move on.

When sex doesn’t have to include penetration and doesn’t have to include an orgasm (by anyone), it’s also quite clear how we can have sex that is completely free of pain.

And I know what you might be asking.

“Am I not missing anything?

I know many women can and do enjoy penetrative sex and I want to be one of them, I want to experience the joy and the highs of all the array of sexual encounters”.

Teaching yourself to enjoy penetrative sex.

The recipe for enjoying penetrative sex is available, and I will share it here with you.

I’ll give you the ingredients, but the cooking time is up in the air. It depends on your personal oven.

If you implement all these components, you are guaranteed to enjoy your sex life. However, please use caution and make your own decision regarding the pace and the intensity in which to apply them.

1: Ditch the patriarchal view of sex and adopt a healthy, personalized approach to sex and pleasure.

Once you embody the understanding that sex is about pleasure, and not about an agenda of penetration/male orgasm, you will be able to be more adventurous. When pleasure becomes the core of your sexual experience, you’ll have the confidence and resilience to venture further and to progress into new sexual frontiers.

2: Find a respectful doctor to diagnose any physical condition.

Doctors often brush women off when they complain about pain during sex. It’s important to find a doctor that will listen to you and will check for any underlying medical conditions that should be treated.

3: Investigate and recover from past hurts.

Past hurts can be lots of things. The most severe ones are trauma, like sexual assault and physical injury, but past hurts can be more subtle.

For example, growing up in an environment that shamed us for being interested in sex, or that told us that there’s something shameful or sinful about sex.

If you experienced any sort of trauma, please find a therapist that specializes in trauma. Someone that can teach you specific tools that you can use by yourself, without developing a dependency on her/him.

On top of that, work on any negative beliefs you might have around sexuality, and change these beliefs into healthier ones.

4: Progress with caution.

When you have sex, as soon as the slightest sensation of pain creeps in, stop. Slowly move back into a position in which you can relax.

Slow sex can tremendously improve pain during sex, at times even eliminate it altogether.

Slow sex is a wonderful way to practice sex regardless of pain, and it’s a great tool to have in your sex repertoire anyway, so I highly recommend giving it a go.

Now, don’t worry so much about your man. Your approach to sex is transforming from a patriarchal-influenced narrative approach to a fluid, relaxed, pleasure-based one. 

And you’ll find that a caring, loving partner would love to help you on this path of finding your way into having an exhilarating sex life. They would be turned on, knowing that with them, you found your way out of pain and into a turned-on, thriving, enjoyable sex life.

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