When Sex Hurts

When Sex Hurts

Pain became a part of my life and, in particular, my sex life, after the birth of my first child in 2017. The pregnancy, and especially the birth, were hard on my body. I pushed for almost 4 hours, tore, hemorrhaged, and ultimately landed myself with prolapse and pelvic pain at the tender age of twenty-four. While unpleasant (traumatizing, if we're being honest), it was also the beginning of a journey; an exploration into pelvic floor and sexual wellness and, ultimately, a journey to heal or find solutions to manage pain with intercourse. 

Woman sits in bed in a dark room with her arm over her forehead

While my experience may sound extreme to some, it may also sound mild to others. At the end of the day, regardless of how we got there, there are many of us vulva owners (and penis owners too- though less commonly) who experience pain with sex, particularly penetration. According to the National Library of Medicine, painful intercourse "is a complex disorder that often goes neglected" and "can affect 10 to 28% of the population in a lifetime" (T


A woman with long hair and her back turned speaks to her doctor, who is a smiling woman holding a clip-board

First things first, talk to your doctor or OBGYN if you're experiencing pain. Pelvic floor PT was a game changer for me and can help to address a wide variety of issues, including pain during intercourse, urinary or bowel related problems, and unexplained pelvic or genital pain. There are also specialists, like Urogynecologists, who can recommend medical devices such as pessaries or discuss more invasive solutions like surgery. 

Dilator Kit

A purple dilator kit with heart shaped bases set out on white stands to show the size progression
When I started my journey to pelvic floor health and joyful penetration, I began- at the recommendation of my first pelvic floor PT- with a dilator kit. A dilator kit is a good way to ease the vagina back into penetration without starting with anything too big or painful. A dilator kit can be used to help vaginal muscles learn to relax and be more pliable, with the user increasing the size overtime as comfort increases. 

The Wellness dilator kit is a good place to start, as it is made from soft, medical grade silicone with gentle sizing increases. For those looking for an alternative or luxury dilator option-continuing reading. 

Dilator kits can help during the process of sexual reassignment in addition to helping women with a variety of sexual dysfunctions. Crystal Delights, a favorite brand of ours here at Honey Dew, teamed up with a plastic surgeon to create a hollow glass dilator kit specifically designed to be worn for longer periods. This kit was created with sexual dysfunction and the sexual reassignment process in mind. Check it out HERE!




Classic Jade ohnut rings sitting stacked next to packaging

Another game changer was, of course, the Ohnut.

I didn't come across the Ohnut until much later in my sexual wellness journey, but once I found it I wished I'd known about it sooner!

These stretchy, cushy rings fit onto a penis or dildo to customize the depth of penetration without sacrificing sensation. Rings can be removed to reduce the size of the barrier and can be used with most condoms. 




Two tattooed women embrace in the bath


It sounds like a cliché to say foreplay is a must, but some clichés exist for good reason, and this is one of them. Good foreplay can reduce pain with sex and heighten pleasure by sending blood to intimate areas, increasing sensation and relaxation simultaneously. Foreplay can help prepare the body physically, but it can also help to ready the mind for sex, and we all know mind-states can make or break a love making session. 

Foreplay can start without even touching. To get a shift in mood going, start by setting the scene and showing your body some love. Light a candle that makes the whole room smell amazing, take a luxurious bath or shower, eat chocolate that makes you want to moan. Showing your body love and care ahead of sex can help to relax muscles and honor your need to go at the pace your body sets, without pressure. For individuals who experience pain with sex, like I did, a warm bath with magnesium or CBD can help muscles to release. Check out Honey Dew's Pain Relief Kit Here

There's nothing wrong with taking things slow. Foreplay can be a time for communication and creativity. It's a good opportunity to think outside of the box and really dive deep into what turns you on outside of the obvious things. Think about erogenous zones like ears and breasts and don't be afraid to experiment - as long as you’re communicating and consensual - a world of opportunity awaits!



Hand with lube dripping out of palm

Get some good fucking lube, it's worth every penny. If you have pain with sex you should DEFINITELY USE LUBE!

As a millennial woman, I grew up believing the societal stigma that hot girls get wet without lube. Well honey, that ain't always the case. Being turned on isn't always enough for vulva owners to self lubricate, and who wants that pressure anyway? Lesson one for good sex - drop the lies society told you. One of the lies I absorbed as an adolescent was that using lube was only for elderly, unaroused women. (A) That belief is toxic and (B) it's not accurate. There are a variety of reasons why vulva owners might need a little help getting slippery downstairs- including time of the month, anxiety, menopause, lack of foreplay, and many others. Plus, lube is fun even if you’re sopping wet, and it's great for every kind of play - whether you own a vulva or not! 

At Honey Dew we carry a variety of different lubes for all types of play. Fan of using silicone toys? Stick to water-based lubes that are toy safe! Want a little more slide and willing to avoid the silicone toys? Try a silicone lube to get that next-level smooth. Prefer something so natural you could eat it? Try this scrumptious coconut lube.


Go Slow

A couple sits on a bed talking


Remember, your pleasure is always the priority and often times that means slowing down and listening to your body and taking the time to have open, candid talks with your partner. If you aren't ready for penetrative sex, or any kind of sex, that's okay and the best thing you can do for yourself and your partner is to let them know how you feel.  There are plenty of ways to get off without having sex if you're ready for different kinds of erotic connection. There are also plenty of ways to be intimate without doing anything sexual and a good partner will be respectful of your process. 

Painful sex does not have to be the end of the story, but be aware that it is a process that takes work and time, and often, medical guidance. Talk to your doctor, communicate with your partner, and give yourself the grace to put up boundaries when you need to. Most of all, know that you are not alone and there is no reason to ever feel shame about experiencing painful or uncomfortable sex. 


With love,


Honey Dew Founder




Tayyeb M, Gupta V. Dyspareunia. [Updated 2022 Jun 11]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK562159/

Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/painful-intercourse/symptoms-causes/syc-20375967

Leave a comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.