Talking to Your Partner about Pain During Sex You have the right to pleasurable sex– whether you have recently encountered difficult penetration due to menopause or struggle with other conditions that cause you discomfort. According to The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 30% of women report feeling pain during vaginal intercourse. Women are 100% empowered to tell their partners that they are experiencing discomfort with sexual activity. These aren’t always easy conversations, and it is not uncommon for partners to become defensive when it comes to sexual performance and enjoyment. Communication is one of the first steps in starting to solve these problems. Have these conversations with your partner in a safe and sensitive setting where you both feel heard.

If penetration difficulties are impacting sexual performance, wellness or intimacy with your partner, here are some communication tips:

  1. Talk about sex in the context of “us”. If you are not experiencing sexual enjoyment, talk about sex in an “us” context with your partner. Instead of saying, “When you do x, it really hurts me…”, try “When we do x, it feels like …”
  2. Reassure your partner that you want to enjoy sex with them. Let them know that you want to work through it together so you can have a better relationship.
  3. Ask your partner if they are willing to find creative solutions. If you think your vaginal discomfort might be alleviated with a different technique (e.g. longer/different foreplay or a different position), ask your partner if they’re willing to try that.
  4. Explain what you feel and what you are looking into. If you think your sexual enjoyment requires medical intervention, explain that.  Have an open dialogue about possible solutions. This may build a sense of inclusion and trust that is so important in a healthy relationship.
  5. Express gratitude to your partner for their willingness to work through the issue together. Remember that your partner should want what is best for you and should want to support you wherever possible. Thank them for their understanding, support, and love. Be specific: say things like, “Your willingness to help me through this and listen to me really made me feel safe and hopeful”.

If you’re used to having easy conversations about sex and your respective bodies, this might not be as difficult as you think it may be. If you’re not used to being explicit about those matters, that’s okay too. These conversations might turn the whole experience into a wonderful icebreaker for even more robust conversations about sex, that may lead to some lovely experiences together!