Sexual intercourse is usually associated with pleasure, fun and deep emotional bonding. It’s a well known fact that people generally place a strong emphasis on sex, with a desire for physical intimacy being a high priority for men and women alike. It may sound strange, then, to learn that intercourse is a very taxing experience for countless numbers of women across the world.
The Main Source of the Problem
What could possible explain this (often overlooked) problem? The answer doesn’t usually come up in polite conversation, though it explains women’s sexual struggles perfectly – vaginal dryness. While you may not have heard that much about this issue, vaginal dryness is a frequent obstacle encountered by older adult women. In fact, surveys have estimated that up to 40 percent of women suffer from this problem at some point in their lives.
Under normal circumstances, the vagina consistently lubricates its walls by producing a clear fluid. The hormone responsible for keeping this fluid flowing is estrogen. Not surprisingly, when a women’s supply of estrogen begins to wane, the production of this fluid likewise follows.
A woman’s levels of estrogen can be adversely affected by a number of different causes. Many of these reasons are simply routine parts of a woman’s life, such as childbirth, breastfeeding or menopause. However, vaginal dryness is not always caused by natural bodily phenomena.
This painful condition can also be blamed on the following culprits:
Side effects from allergy and cold medications, as well as antidepressants
Common treatments for cancer, such as chemotherapy or radiation treatment
The surgical removal of the ovaries. This surgical process might be needed to prevent the spread of ovarian cancer.
Sjogren’s disease, a condition that in which the body’s immune system attacks cells responsible for lubricating the vagina.
The use of anti-estrogen medications.
Other Root Causes
While it is often to blame, a lack of vaginal lubrication may not always explain female pain during sex. These uncomfortable feelings can also be blamed on the following medical conditions:
Ovarian Cysts – Ovarian cysts are sacs full of liquid that form inside ovaries. The presence of these cysts can cause noticeable pain in the pelvis area.
Uterus-related Problems – Some women may suffer from the development of fibroids, small tumors that appear on the uterus. It must be noted that these tumors are rarely cancerous, though they can cause painful intercourse.
Vaginismus – The name of this condition may sound silly, but it has serious consequences for the women who develop it. Vaginismus involves a sudden spasm of the vagina’s muscles, typically after an object has been inserted into the vagina.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease – This sexually transmitted disease first infects the vagina or cervix, and proceeds to spread uterus and upper genital tract. Pain in the back, pelvis and abdomen often accompany this disease, and sex can become a very unpleasant experience for afflicted women.
Vaginal Infections – During their lifetime, many women suffer from common vaginal diseases, such as yeast infections. In fact, doctors estimate that 75 percent of all women develop a yeast infection at some point in their lives.
What can be done?
Though many women suffer from painful intercourse, this problem can be treated. As alluded to above, some cases of intercourse -related pain are caused by various diseases. Women struggling with such conditions should consult with their doctors about possible treatments, if they haven’t already done so.
The source of many women’s sexual pain, however, is still the natural loss of estrogen. Starting at about age 40, women’s bodies steadily produce lower and lower amounts of this hormone. This doesn’t mean women simply have to live with uncomfortable sex with their partners.
Below are some steps that can be taken to alleviate vaginal dryness:
Water, Water Everywhere – Quick question – do you drink 8 glasses of water each day? Don’t feel bad if you don’t, since you’re certainly not alone. Getting the right amount of water each day can help treat problems with vaginal lubrication.
Pick up a Lubricant – It shouldn’t be too hard to find vaginal lubricants, as these products are readily available at your local drugstore. Lubricants can make up for the lack of fluids produced by vaginal tissues.
Getting Enough Good Fat? – Fat is usually considered a bad thing, but there are actually types of fat that are good for the body. Getting the appropriate amount of these good fats can boost the body’s production levels of sex hormones, including estrogen. In particular, flaxseed oil and soy should be of particular interest to menopausal and post-menopausal women.
Adjust Your Personal Hygiene Habits – In some cases, vaginal dryness can be inadvertently caused by certain hygiene practices. Two habits that might prove counterproductive are douching and the use of hygiene sprays, both of which can cause vaginal tissue to become dry and inflamed.
Make Love Less Painful – Some couples can benefit from trying new sexual positions. One option that may prove successful is to have the woman on top of her male partner. In this position, the woman has more control over the amount of penetration during intercourse.