Dealing with Dyspareunia

A Life Without Pain During Sexual Intercourse

Being immersed in the world of pelvic health for many years, I’ve discovered a deep interest in discussing uncomfortable topics that may be considered “taboo” or “hush-hush”. Dyspareunia, otherwise known as painful sexual intercourse, is one of these common topics. It is my mission to help women feel empowered to talk about these real experiences and to shape the course of women’s health for future generations. So, let’s talk about it! 

This diagnosis of dyspareunia can span many age groups with varying degrees of sexual experience. It doesn’t matter if you’re new to sex or have been engaging in sexual intercourse for years. Pain during sex can be a new development or perhaps it has always been present for you. Whatever the experience is, you can imagine the toll this can take on a relationship. 

If you are dealing with dyspareunia, the best course of action is to be evaluated by a pelvic health therapist for a proper treatment plan. But before going that route, there are a number of methods you can try at home.

4 Home Remedies to Treat Dyspareunia

1. Try This Simple Breathing Technique

It is very easy to underestimate the power of breathing since we do it automatically. Breathing may help calm down your nervous system which in hand, relaxes your muscles. Here is a recommended breathing technique to try before sex and at least once a day if you are experiencing pain in the bedroom.

  • Sit up or lie on your back with a pillow under your bottom.
  • Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth focusing on relaxing your entire body.
  • Notice what comes up. Do you find yourself clenching your butt muscles? Your jaw? Your toes? 
  • Focus on letting go of that tension with every exhale. This will allow your pelvic muscles also to relax. 

2. Use a Dilator

What is a Dilator? 

If you are unfamiliar with what a dilator is, it’s a tube-shaped device that is very effective in stretching out the pelvic muscles. Dilators can be used to mimic the penetration of a penis without the nerves associated with intercourse. You are in control! Using a dilator is a great way to rewire the brain to not associate pain with penetration. 

When choosing a dilator, I recommend silicone rather than plastic. Check out Intimate Rose for some good choices. 

What Size Dilator Should I Get? 

When choosing a dilator to help with dyspareunia, the goal should be to easily insert one slightly larger than your partner’s penis. Get a few that are smaller and increase weekly or as tolerated. Use a water-based lubricant such as Slippery Stuff.

3. Communicate with Your Partner

Communication is key! It is so important to tell your partner if you are experiencing discomfort. If you don’t speak up, your partner will sense something is wrong and may start to think you’re not enjoying intercourse. If your brain associates sex with pain, your sex drive is affected. Faking it is not the answer! 

It is important that you feel comfortable speaking with your partner. It is beyond my scope to give communication advice, but there are different types of therapy that you can seek for this kind of help.

4. Be Aware of Your Muscles!

It is possible that you have no idea about the state of your pelvic floor muscles, especially since they are internal. Do you find yourself clenching your glutes throughout the day?  Do you know what it feels like not to clench your muscles? As you complete the breathing techniques discussed above, think about what it feels like to let go of the muscles in that area. Try to enforce it throughout the day. When you think of it, do it!  

Overcome Sexual Discomfort Once and For All 

I’ve heard countless stories of women approaching their doctors with the common issue of dyspareunia only to be brushed off or told, “Just deal with it”. I have even heard the recommendation of “Drink a glass of wine to relax”. Believe it or not, these types of suggestions can come from both male and female doctors. 

Before seeking help from a medical professional, try the home remedies above to reduce pain during intercourse. If you are still dealing with pain after trying these strategies, seek out a local pelvic health therapist. Just like myself, they will be happy to come up with an effective treatment plan to get rid of your dyspareunia once and for all! 

Giusi Tsaousis, PT, DPT, PCES, NCPT, SFMA