• Dr Graham Stevenson

Two Things to Address When Sex Becomes Painful


One of the two most important things to do when sex becomes painful concerns your body, the other is to do with your mind. There are two types of pain – physical and psychological.

Physical sex usually involves two bodies, although often only one or sometimes, more than two bodies. Each body needs to be up for sex in order to be able to enjoy it. The most receptive physical state is one of relaxation. This allows the right pathways to be opened up for hormones to be secreted, nerves to be attuned and organs to become engorged for pleasure. Pleasure is the antidote when sex becomes painful.

Too often the body is not ready, and the mind rushes ahead in eagerness for pleasure or in anticipation of pain. This causes the body to tense up rather than relax. Muscles contract and tighten up, becoming hard. There is no accommodation or receptivity in hardness, and the result of forcing the action is pain. And so, sex becomes painful.

Soft, stretched muscles and relaxed tissues feel more pleasure. Chilling out first is the best way to ensure the action heats up for both parties. Sex can become painful when you’re not ready for it.

In order to relax, we have to feel safe. So, if the issue of privacy (a safe space) and time (relaxation) have both been addressed, then the body is more likely to be open to enjoy sex.

Pain and pleasure sit side by side in the brain. The difference is for many only a matter of interpretation, which is what the brain does. The fear of pain also plays a large part in the feeling of pain. Fear increases our experience of pain as painful. When people play musical chairs with pleasure and pain, and I mean play, not force, then fear gets taken out of the situation and the capacity and bandwidth for pleasure can be extended.

This just goes to show that sex can become painful when we are not getting the sex we want. There’s nothing more numbing than duty and nothing more boring than the predictable.

It is true that the more sex you have, the more you will want sex. But it has to be the sex you really enjoy. There are dopamine pathways in our brains that reward us with good feelings so that we are encouraged to get more of what we enjoy in life.

Good sex has great mental and physical health benefits and experiencing them can incentivise us for more of what makes us feel good. But sex is not socially acceptable as a healthy hobby, like walking or sport. The shame around it makes it difficult to communicate honestly about it. Without honesty there can be no real connection with ourselves or others. And without that connection, sex often becomes painful.

By listening to our bodies and our deep desires, rather than listening to what we think we want, we can have really meaningful and satisfying sexual connections. But we have to be brave enough to sit with our bodies and listen, allowing the unconscious to speak and become conscious.

Then, we need to have honest and open conversations with our partners before we get involved in sex. This will help to avoid sex becoming painful. Although, this sounds pretty clinical, it can be part of the foreplay and add to the excitement. After all, who doesn’t want a partner who is willing and really enjoying themselves whilst you do, too?

I help clients to work out why sex has become painful and find the way back to playful pleasure. If you would like to discuss how I might be able to help you enjoy sex again, or maybe for the first time, then call me today on 07933 709169.

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© 2020 by Dr Graham Stevenson