FACT OR MYTH? TRUTHS, HALF-TRUTHS AND MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT THE BIRTH CONTROL PILL

When introduced in the 1960s, the birth control pill became a symbol of female liberation

The contraceptive pill made its appearance more than 50 years ago. Emerging during a period of social and political upheaval, it  gave women the possibility to choose how and when to have a family, and to enjoy their sexual life. Thus, it is regarded as one of the greatest scientific inventions of the 20th century and one of the utmost symbols of female liberation.

From the very beginning though, this revolutionary method of contraception has been a source of controversy: some people thought it would create “a society with unbridled sexuality likely to undermine the foundations of the family”; others feared harmful effects and the birth abnormal children.

Fifty years later, the pill remains even more controversial than before and -paradoxically enough- more and more women are “liberating” from their “liberator”: the pill’s popularity is on the decline, a trend observed in many countries. The reasons behind this shift are many, but fear of side effects seems to the most recurrent. Arguably the web and social media, with the spread of countless personal stories with dramatic headlines and numerous pill scares have influenced women’s perception on the pill’s risks. But are these fears legitimate? How dangerous is the contraceptive pill? What is true and what is false?

Let’s see what science answers to the pill’s most common assumptions…

1) The pill harms your future fertility

FALSE. All scientific evidence agrees that hormonal contraceptives do not make women sterile in the long run. Sometimes it may take three to six cycles for fertility to fully return, but within a year after going off the pill, women trying to conceive are as likely to get pregnant (80%) as those who were never on the pill. In certain cases of long-term use, there may be even increased likelihood of pregnancy within 6-12 months after discontinuing it.

Moreover, hormonal birth control may preserve fertility by offering protection against pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, ectopic pregnancy, ovarian cysts, ovarian and uterine cancer (see below).

2) The pill reduces sexual desire

MOSTLY FALSE. In most cases, birth control pills don’t affect libido (sexual desire): out of 10 women taking the pill, 7  experience no change in their sex drive, 2 observe increased libido, and 1 will feel less desire.

Recently, a study provided evidence that the pill does not kill desirecontextual factors, such as the relationship with the partner, stress, fatigue, family problems, recent childbirth, have a more considerable impact on sexual drive than the type of contraception used.

3) The pill makes you fat

MOSTLY FALSE. A recent extensive review study showed no evidence that birth control pills cause weight gain in most women. Although some persons may gain some weight when they start taking it, it’s often a temporary side effect due to fluid retention, not extra fat. And, like most side effects, it usually goes away within 2 to 3 months.

A woman’s weight may fluctuate naturally due to changes in age or life circumstances. Because changes in weight are common, many times they will wrongly attribute their weight gain or loss to the use of the pill.

4) The pill increases the risk of blood clots

TRUE. From the 1960s it is known that combined contraceptives pills may increase the risk of venous thrombosis, that is, a blood clot obstructing a vein, a serious and potentially life-threatening complication. Combined contraceptives contain synthetic versions of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. It is the estrogen that is mostly associated with the formation of blood clots, but the latest years it became evident that the type of progesterone also influences the risk. Indeed, the most “modern” formulations of the combined pill – the so-called third and fourth generation – containing the synthetic progesterones gestodene, desogestrel and drospirenone are associated with higher risk of thrombosis.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) provides the following values ​​for the incidence (frequency) of deep vein thrombosis in 100,000 women of childbearing age:

  • 5 to 10 in non-pregnant women who do not use oral contraceptives,
  • 20 for women using a second generation combination pill (containing levonorgestrel),
  • 40 among women taking third and fourth generation pill.

Factors that may increase the risk of thrombosis are smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, age over 35 years, and a family or personal history of vascular accidents.

Although these figures may look scary, they should be analyzed in perspective:

  • In absence of risk factors, the absolute risk of thrombosis is very low.
  • The mortality rate of clotting events is about 1%. Thus, the odds of dying as a result of having a clot attributable to the use of the pill would be about 2 to 4 per million women.
  • The risk remains considerably lower than that related to pregnancy and birth (estimated  1 in 1000- 2000 deliveries).
  • Indicative of this is the 1995 pill scare in the UK, when a warning was issued on the increased risk of thrombosis related to third generation pills. This led many women coming off the pill, resulting in 12,400 additional births and a 9% abortions rise in 1996.

Overall, the odds of having a thrombotic episode related to the pill are very low, in particular with combined pills containing low dose of estrogen (30 or less micrograms) and old-generation progesterone (such as levonorgestrel).

The minipill, also known as the progestin-only birth control pill, is a form of oral contraception that does not contain estrogen, and its progestin dose is lower than that in the combined formulation. Although its efficacy is slightly reduced as compared to the combined pill, the minipill does not increase the risk of venous thromboembolism or arterial thrombotic accidents (see below).

5) The pill increases the risk of heart attack and stroke

TRUE. An extensive review study looking at arterial vascular accidents attributed to the pill (myocardial infarction and ischemic stroke) showed that the overall risk of arterial thrombosis was 60% increased in women using oral contraceptive pills compared to non-users. Unlike venous thrombosis, the risk did not vary according to the type of synthetic progesterone. However, it was twice as high in women taking pills with higher doses of estrogen (the older formulations of contraceptive pills).

Therefore, the combined pill containing levonorgestrel and low dose estrogen (no more than 30 µg) is the safest oral form of hormonal contraception. The minipill may also be considered in high risk women (see above).

6) A woman should not take the pill if she smokes

TRUE.  There is some evidence that smoking may decrease the effectiveness of hormonal birth control. When taking the pill, smokers experience more frequently irregular bleeding than non-smokers; this could signal that the efficacy of the pill is lowered, but more research needs to be conducted to better understand the effect of smoking on the pill’s action.

But what we do know for sure is that smokers who take combined oral contraceptives have increased risk of venous thrombosis and heart disease (see above). This risk is higher for women that smoke more than 15 cigarettes/day, are older than 35 years old or take formulations with high estrogen levels.

If you are under 35 years old and smoke, you should be extremely careful about using the pill, and the decision to take it should be individualized considering other risk factors such as personal and familiar history of high blood pressure, high cholesterol or heart disease. Smokers aged 35 or over should not take the combined contraceptive pill.

If you smoke you may opt for the mini pill, which does not seem to increase the risk of venous thromboembolism or arterial thrombotic accidents; otherwise you should discuss with your doctor about another contraceptive method, such as the intra-uterine device (IUD).

7) The pill causes mood changes and depression

DEBATABLE. Most studies have shown no effect of the pill on depression and mood changes; some studies have even found a protective effect. In 2016, an extensive review on hormonal contraception and mood changes confirmed the existing evidence, and concluded that “… negative mood changes are infrequent and combined hormonal contraception may be prescribed with confidence”.

However, a recent publication came to challenge this assertion. Danish researchers went through the health records of more than a million women using hormonal contraception. They found that those on the combined pill were 23% more likely to be prescribed an antidepressant than those not on hormonal contraception. For those on the minipill (and on other progesterone-only methods, including the hormonal IUD), the figure rose to 34%. It increased even further, to 80% more likely, for girls 15 to 19 years old on the combined pill.

There are a few important points to consider about these results:

  • Depression is a complex condition whose cause is still poorly understood. Several factors seem to play a role: genetic, environmental, psychological and social. Therefore, it is very difficult to evaluate the link between depression and hormonal contraception.
  • The Danish study does not prove that hormones are responsible for the depression – “association” does not necessarily translate into “causation”.
  • The risk of being diagnosed with depression peaks at two to three months of contraceptive use, but then begins to fall.
  •  Even if these findings are confirmed, the number of affected women remains small: 2.2 out of 100 women who use hormonal birth control develop depression, compared to 1.7 out of 100 non-users.

In conclusion, the pill may have impact on some women’s emotions, but further research is needed to establish whether hormonal contraceptives are indeed the cause of depression and mood changes.

8) The pill is 100% reliable

FALSE. Theoretically, with perfect use, the pill is 99.7% effective at preventing unwanted pregnancy. However, there are many factors that may interfere with the pill’s level of effectiveness: forgetting to take it, not taking it as directed, certain medications or medical problems…Therefore, when it comes to real life, the pill is about 92% effective: about 8 in 100 women using the combined pill will get pregnant in a year.

In any case, the birth control pill remains one of the most reliable contraceptive methods.

9) If you take the pill you don’t need the condom

FALSE. A survey conducted in France showed that “…one in ten young women 15 to 20 years old is not aware that the pill does not protect against HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STI)”. As stated before, the pill is a very good at preventing unwanted pregnancy but it offers no STI protection at all. In fact, the only contraceptive method that protects against sexually transmitted infections is the condom. Read more here.

10) The pill causes cancer

TRUE AND FALSE. The pill seems to increase the risk of certain cancers, but it protects again others. Overall, with the use of oral contraceptives the risk of endometrial and ovarian cancer is reduced, whereas the risk of breast and cervical cancer appears to be increased.

The protective effect on ovarian and endometrial cancer (the lining of the uterus) has been consistently demonstrated in many studies. This effect increases with the length of time oral contraceptives are used and continues for many years after a woman stops using the pill.

Long-term use of oral contraceptives is associated with an increased risk of cervical cancer. This correlation is not completely understood, as virtually all cervical cancers are caused by certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV). It has been suggested that women who use the pill may be less likely to use condoms, therefore increasing their risk of being exposed to HPV.

An extensive analysis of more than 70 studies suggested an increased risk of breast cancer among current and recent users of hormonal contraception. The risk was highest for women who started using oral contraceptives as teenagers. However, by 10 years after cessation of use, their risk was similar to that in women who had never used it.

Since most studies so far have evaluated birth control pill older formulations with higher doses of hormones, until recently it was assumed that the newer-generation pills available now would be safer regarding breast cancer risk. Yet a new study from Denmark found that even with the current pills, hormonal contraception users experienced a 20% increase in the risk of breast cancer compared to non-users; the odds rose among women who used hormones for more than 10 years. The risk was similar in magnitude to that of older pill types.

Whether oral contraceptive use increases the risk of liver cancer is not clear: while some studies found more cases of hepatocellular carcinoma ( a type of liver cancer) in women who took the pill for more than 5 years, others did not confirm this correlation.

Hormonal contraception seems to have a protective effect on colo-rectal (bowel) cancer, but this has not been yet consistently proven.

Since the pill seems to reduce the frequency of certain cancers and increase the risk of others, an interesting question arises: Does the pill increase the overall risk of cancer? The answer is NO. A recently published study provided epidemiological data on more than 40,000 women followed for more than 40 years. The results showed that users of oral contraceptives are protected from colo-rectal, endometrial, and ovarian cancer; this beneficial effect lasts for many years after stopping the pill. An increased breast and cervical cancer risk was seen in current and recent users, which appears to be lost within approximately 5 years of stopping oral contraception, with no evidence of either cancer recurring at increased risk in ever users with time. These results are reassuring and provide strong evidence that most women do not expose themselves to long-term cancer harm if they choose to use oral contraception; indeed, many are likely to be protected.

11) The pill has many bothersome side effects

TRUE AND FALSE. Some women refuse to take the pill because they fear certain annoying symptoms. Indeed, the birth control pill is a medication, and as such, it has possible side effects.

The most common adverse reactions associated with use of combined contraceptives include changes in bleeding patterns, nausea, breast tenderness, headaches, missed periods, vaginal discharge and visual changes with contact lenses; few women may also experience changes in sexual desire and mood changes, or temporary weight gain related to fluid retention (see above). In general, these side effects are not a sign of illness, and usually stop within the first few months of using the pill.

While some women may experience bothersome symptoms, the pill provides important non-contraceptive health benefits:

  • Decreased risk of certain cancers (see above)
  • Improved bone mineral density (in older women)
  • Protection against pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Prevention of ovarian cysts
  • Reduction of menstrual bleeding problems
  • Prevention of menstrual migraines (with non-stop formulations)
  • Protection against iron-deficiency anemia
  • Reduction of ovulation pain
  • Treatment of acne
  • Treatment of bleeding from fibroids
  • Treatment of dysmenorrhea (painful periods)
  • Treatment of excess hair on face or body
  • Treatment of premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Reduction of endometriosis symptoms
  • Reduction of polycystic ovarian syndrome symptoms
  • Induction of amenorrhea for lifestyle considerations (when you need to stop your period for a while; you can also advance or delay your period with the pill)

So, how dangerous is the pill?

There is no perfect contraception method. I wish there were. And it is true that hormonal contraception, like any other medication, may have annoying side effects and serious health risks. Does it mean that no one should take the pill? Of course not!

We should keep in mind that severe risks are very rare and most bothersome symptoms are short-lived; in addition, the pill offers many non-contraceptive health benefits. But when discussing about the pill’s pros and cons, sometimes we forget a very important issue: the birth control pill is one of the most effective contraceptive methods. And effective birth control prevents from unwanted pregnancy, which may have not only devastating psychological consequences, but may also lead to severe physical harm.

Therefore, the potential problems of the birth control pill should be analyzed in perspective: we shouldn’t just pay attention to downsides, forgetting to place them in context with the upsides. Every woman considering taking the pill should thoroughly discuss with her healthcare provider not only the possible risks, but also its significant benefits, which for many women will be greater than the harms.

 

Photo credits

Heading: vintag.es; 1: thebump.com; 2: breakingmuscle.com; 3: thejewel.com; 4: health.harvard.edu; 5: newhealthadvisor.com; 6: pinterest.com; 7: pinterest.com; 8: pinterest.com; 9: blog.path.org; 10: purelyb.com; 11: buzzfeed.com; Conclusion: bigthink.com

WHEN SEX IS PAINFUL: 8 COMMON PROBLEMS – AND HOW TO FIX THEM

Sexual intercourse is supposed to provide pleasure, satisfaction and fulfilment. We -particularly women- tend to expect flawless, movie-like sex, romantic, luscious or passionate, with music playing in the background! Well, in real life sex is not always that perfect: according to an American survey, about 1 out of 3 women reported pain the last time that they have had sex. What’s more, many women feel ashamed to talk about it, giving up the idea of pleasurable sex. It is not unusual for these women to avoid having intercourse, leading to couple conflicts and eventually to psychological problems…

But why so many women feel pain while making love?

Whether it happens each time or occasionally, you feel just some discomfort or unbearable pain, dyspareunia (painful intercourse) can be related to a gynecological or medical problem, to your emotions or your state of mind; occasionally your partner is to blame, or maybe both of you, let’s not forget that it takes two to tango!

Below you will find 8 common painful situations you may encounter during intercourse. Understanding the type and location of the pain will help us pinpoint its cause, so that you can take some measures to get over it!

Problem # 1: “I feel a burning sensation outside the vagina”

painful-intercourse-burning-loveYou may feel a painful, burning sensation in your vulva (the external genitals), the area may be red and eventually swollen.

Possible causes:

  • Yeasts or other infections: a yeast infection will cause “cottage cheese-like” discharge; other bacteria can produce yellow or green discharge which may also be foul-smelling.
  • Contact dermatitis: you may realize that the problem starts after using certain lubricant, soap or cream, laundry soaps or softener; certain clothes can also be responsible.
  • Allergic reaction to condoms: the burning feeling starts after having sex, usually within 48 hours.
  • Menopause: although menopause generally causes vaginal dryness, some women also feel intense burning, which gets worse with intercourse.

What to do about it:  

  • Check with your doctor, who can give you a treatment for your yeast infection, if you are prone to get them, over-the-counter medications are available.
  • In the doubt, your doctor may order a culture, to see which bacteria is responsible for your symptoms.
  • In case of dermatitis or allergic reaction, stay away from possible irritants, your doctor can prescribe you a cream to soothe discomfort.
  • If you are allergic to latex (the material condoms are made of), stick to non-latex condoms.

Problem # 2: “I have a painful bump in my vulva”

painful-sex-bumpYou may feel a sharp, localized pain; while trying to precise its location you may touch a “bump” in the vulva. If you look with a mirror you may be able to identify the spot. Sex, due to rubbing, will make it even more painful.

Possible causes:

  • Pimple or ingrown hair: these are the commonest “bumps” appearing in the genitals. They can be quite sore if they become infected. A clogged sweat gland can also cause a painful pimple.
  • Bartholin gland cyst: they are soft cysts arising at the opening of the vagina. They can be very large (like a walnut) and become extremely painful if they get infected.
  • Herpes: genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection. It causes itchy, burning and painful lesions that often start as a sore spot, becoming over a few days one or several blisters. Read more here.
  • Other dermatological or medical problems: rarely, diseases causing genital ulcers may be the cause of pain.

What to do about it:

  • Check with your doctor if you are not sure what is causing you pain.
  • Pimples may require a local cream to relief pain. If they are infected antibiotics may be necessary; more rarely incision and drainage are needed.
  • Bartholin cysts are treated with warm sitz baths. If infected antibiotics, incision and drainage may be necessary.
  • Herpes is managed with antiviral medications (locally or by mouth), painkillers may also be required.

Problem # 3: “I’ve tried everything, but penetration is impossible and triggers excruciating pain”

painful-intercourse-obstacleYou were never able to have penetration; even introducing tampons is impossible because you feel there is an “obstacle”.

Possible causes:

  • Hymen problems: you hymen may be abnormally thick, or imperforate.
  • Vaginal problems: your vagina can be too narrow or have a septum.
  • Vaginismus: see below.

What to do about it:

If penetration was never possible, check with your doctor who can rule out any anatomical problem; most of them can be solved with a simple surgical intervention.

Problem # 4: “I have intense pain in the opening of the vagina during penetration”

painful-intercourse-pins-and-needlesEven if you are aroused and willing to have sex, penetration triggers an intense pain in the entrance of the vagina; this is called entry dyspareunia.

Possible causes:

  • First time: we tend to have high expectations about our first intercourse; however many times it is less extraordinary than expected, and this includes pain; sometimes (but not always) bleeding may occur.
  • Trauma: this can be the result of childbirth (a tear or an episiotomy) or surgery; occasionally injury can be sex-related.
  • Vaginitis: due to yeast or other infection (see above).
  • Vulvodynia: it is a distressing, long-lasting condition in which the vulva is so sensitive that just touching the area makes the woman jump with pain. When pain is confined to the vestibule (the area around the opening of the vagina), it is known as vulvar vestibulitis syndrome (VVS). Its cause is unknown.
  • Emotional reasons: see below.

What to do about it:

  • If it is your first time, don’t worry too much about it. Many women have pain or discomfort during their first intercourse, an even a larger percentage will not have an orgasm. Be patient, try to be as relaxed as possible, discuss with your partner the means to reduce pain. If the problem persists, discuss it with a doctor.
  • If your just delivered, wait to have intercourse for at least six weeks after childbirth; some discomfort may persist for a few months, especially if you breastfeed, since your vagina also feels dry (see below). If pain continues for a long time or is very intense, talk to your doctor.
  • Vulvodynia may require medications, or eventually surgery. Read more here.

Problem # 5: “My vagina feels too dry”

Vaginal dryness is extremely common, and does not always mean problem. While some women produce  a lot of vaginal secretions, others are drier. However, there are factors that influence natural lubrication levels: sexual stimulation increases the amount of secretions; therefore, adequate and prolonged foreplay will help you being aroused. Sometimes though, your vagina keeps being dry and sex becomes painful.

Possible causes:

  • Menopause: due to the low level of estrogen (the hormone in charge of lubricating your genitals), your vagina will feel extremely dry and sex can be very painful, sometimes impossible.
  • Breastfeeding: also related to low estrogen.
  • Medications: some medications such as birth control pills, decongestants and antihistaminics may reduce vaginal moisture; contraceptive pills can also decrease sexual desire.
  • Medical problems: certain medical conditions can indirectly affect sexual response: diabetes, cancer, and thyroid problems, among others.
  • Your emotions: see below.

What to do about it:

  • Use a lubricant. Water-soluble lubricants are the best choice if you experience vaginal irritation. Silicone- based lubricants last longer and are more slippery. Do not use petroleum jelly, baby oil, or body lotion with condoms, as they can cause the condom to break (read more here).
  • For chronic cases, you may try long-acting vaginal moisturizers which, unlike lubricants, are absorbed into the vaginal lining for 3 to 4 days, mimicking natural secretions.
  • For menopausal women, when lubricants or moisturizers won’t work, a vaginal estrogen product may be necessary. More info here.
  • In any case, talk to your doctor if lubricants or moisturizers don’t help.

Problem # 6: “My vagina is just not opening”

Each time you try to have sexual intercourse, your vagina “closes”; any attempt of penetration is painful, and usually impossible.

Possible causes:

  • Vaginismus: it is a tightening (or reflex contraction) of the muscles of your vagina which occurs during penetration, but eventually also while attempting to insert a tampon, or during a gynecological exam. Its cause is unknown, although it is frequently related to anxiety, or fear of having pain during sex. Learn more here.
  • Your emotions: see below.

What to do about it:

  • Progressive desensitization consists of special exercises aimed at learning to relax your vaginal muscles.
  • Medical treatment may be useful in certain situations.
  • For women whose vaginismus is related to fear or anxiety, psychotherapy usually helps.

Problem # 7: I feel pain in my bladder during intercourse together with constant urge to urinate

painful-intercourse-tap-waterWhile having intercourse, you feel low abdominal pain and a persistent need to pee.

Possible causes:

  • Cystitis: read more here.
  • Interstitial cystitis (IC): also called bladder pain syndrome (BPS) is a chronic problem, which causes a feeling of pain and pressure in the bladder area, together with burning during urination. IC may feel like a bladder infection, but it’s not an infection; in fact, its cause is unknown.

What to do about it:

  • Read here to see what you can do if you have a bladder infection, particularly if you get one very often.
  • Regarding BPS, check with your doctor. No single treatment works for every woman, it should rather be individualized and based on symptoms. Learn more here.

Problem # 8: “I feel a deep pain in my abdomen during sex”

A deep pain or cramping in your abdomen during sex -or deep dyspareunia – can be the result of numerous problems.

Possible causes:

  • Gynecological problems: endometriosis, fibroids, ovarian cyst, adhesions, or infection (pelvic inflammatory disease). Many of these also cause painful periods.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome: a chronic condition that affects the large intestine; it commonly causes cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea and constipation. More info here.
  • Collision dyspareunia”: a funny name to describe the pain you may feel if the tip of your partner’s penis hits your cervix. This can happen if your partner is longer than average, if you’re not fully aroused, or if your cervix is unusually positioned. Read more here.
  • Other reasons: constipation, a retroverted uterus, a forgotten object in the vagina (usually a tampon).

What to do about it: 

Although many of the causes of deep dyspareunia are not important, some of them can be serious; therefore, you should see a doctor, especially if it is a new-onset problem. Many of these situations will be treated with medications, others require surgical intervention.

THE EMOTIONAL FACTOR

Our emotions are tightly related to our sexual life; thus, negative emotions are frequently the source of painful sex. Some examples are:

  • The way you feel about having sex: fear, embarrassment, guilt, being concerned about your physical appearance, being to too anxious about “doing it right” can all may make you unable to relax; therefore, arousal is difficult and you end up having pain.
  • Stress, fatigue, anxiety, depression: your everyday life problems can affect your desire to have sex. In addition, your vaginal muscles tend to tighten; this can also contribute to painful sex.
  • Relationship problems: problems with your partner may be related to painful sex by reducing arousal or provoking vaginismus.
  • A previous bad sexual experience: such as women with a history of sexual abuse, who tend to relate sex with something bad or negative.

WHEN YOUR PARTNER IS THE PROBLEM…

Painful sex is not always your fault!

  • Your partner may have sexual problem, which in turn can make you feel anxious about sex.
  • If your partner is taking a drug for erectile dysfunction, he may have delayed orgasm, causing long and painful intercourse.
  • Size problem: feel that your partner is “too big”? In fact, when a woman is aroused and relaxed, the vagina extends by several inches – so most women should be able to accommodate most males! Nevertheless, if size is indeed a problem, try a lubricant, and check which sex positions are less likely to make you hurt. Come close, a new device can be a good option for you.

SHARED PROBLEM: SEXUAL MISMATCH

Besides size mismatch, or differences in the way you both enjoy sex, a common issue leading to painful sex is mismatched sexual desire. Read more here.

TAKE HOME MESSAGE

painful-intercourse-dont-want-to-talk

If you have pain during sex, talk about it! It may be embarrassing to discuss your sexual problems with a doctor, but you should know that, with proper care most problems can be solved; therefore there is no reason to condemn yourself to a pleasureless, painful sexual life!

In the meantime, these are some tips that may help you relieve your pain:

  • Talk to your partner: mutual communication is essential. Discuss with your partner where and how is the pain, so you can both find ways to avoid it or minimize it.
  • Use a lubricant: a simple measure that can ease your suffering. It’s a good idea to keep always one with you.
  • Make time for sex: not always easy to include sex into our busy schedules! Nevertheless, try to find a moment of the day when you and your partner will be less tired or anxious.
  • Engage in sexual activities that don’t cause pain: if penetration is painful, you may consider other forms of pleasure, such as oral sex.
  • Try different sex positions: if you have deep dyspareunia, it can be worse in certain positions. Try to find those that are less likely to trigger pain.
  • Include relaxing activities: your partner may give a massage.
  • Take steps to relieve pain before making love: take a warm bath, empty your bladder, take a painkiller.
  • If you experience burning after intercourse: apply a frozen gel pack or some ice wrapped in a towel to your vulva.

References

  1. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: When sex is painful.
  2. Lori J, Heim LTC: Evaluation and Differential Diagnosis of Dyspareunia. Am Fam Physician. 2001 Apr 15;63(8):1535-1545.
  3. NHS UK: Why does sex hurt?

Photo credits

Intro: dailymedicalinfo.com; 1: rascoecam.wordpress.com; 2:liferunning.wordpress.com; 3: daroachbooks.blogspot.gr; 4: pixabay.com; 5: scienceclarified.com; 6: newauthors.wordpress.com; 7:diversehealthservices.wordpress.com; 8: everythingselectric.com; Take home: pinterest.com