Talking to your partner

According to The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 30% of women report feeling pain during vaginal intercourse. Whether you have recently encountered difficult penetration due to menopause or other reasons that cause discomfort to your vaginal opening, you still have the right to have pleasurable sex. Women are 100% empowered to tell their partner that they are experiencing discomfort with sexual activity. These aren’t always easy conversations (because egos can be fragile) and partners can quickly turn defensive when it comes to sexual techniques and performance. If the conversation doesn’t happen in a spirit of sensitivity and partnership, it can trigger relationship challenges.

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

  1. Sex should be about “us,” so if you have vaginal tightness, talk about it in an “us” context. In other words, 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 do want to enjoy sex with them and that you want to figure this out with their help so you can have a better relationship. 
  3. If you think the solution to 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. If you’re pretty sure the pain is related to a type of chronic tightness that requires vaginal training or expansion, explain that.  Have open dialogue about solutions you are looking into, like a vaginal trainer (vaginal dilator) or other treatment plans you started consulting about with your doctor.  This will build a sense of inclusion and trust that’s so important in a healthy relationship.
  5. Assuming your partner proves to be the loving and understanding person you’ve come to expect, thank them for their understanding, support and love. Be specific, for example, “It wasn’t easy for me to bring this problem up, but your willingness to help me through it 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 a terribly difficult conversation. And if you’re not used to being explicit about those matters, that’s okay too. These conversation ideas might turn the whole experience into a wonderful icebreaker for even more robust conversations about sex. And that can lead to some lovely experiences together! 

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