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Towards Sex Without Pain

Sex without pain - it's something we all believe is our right - right?

Sex is after all meant to be about pleasure, not pain. But a recent American survey, the 'National Survey of Sexual Health and Behaviour' has produced some startling statistics.

Described as 'the largest national sex survey ever published', the result included the shocking fact that one in three American women experienced some pain the last time they had sex.

We have to say this worries, as well as shocks us.

First, we want to know 'why?'

If a third of men found sex painful, it would be a major public health issue (the figure for men was 5%).

So how come a third of women are experiencing this and it takes a massive nationwide study to find out?

Second, what's being done? It's everyone's right to experience a healthy and fulfilling sex life, which includes enjoying fun, pain-free sex.

Doctors and support groups can be incredibly helpful for women experiencing painful sex, and there is more information on the subject available now than ever before, but there are still so many misconceptions and misunderstandings out there that Team Sh! just have to put in a few words of advice.

We've come up with a quick list of things that can be helpful for pain-free sex.

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1. Lube Up, Ladies! Not enough lubrication can be a major cause of pain and discomfort during sex, and the list of things that can affect a woman's natural lubrication is huge - stress, tiredness, the time of the month, medications, and all sorts of other things can make your lady-garden a little less luscious. So there's no need to worry about reaching for the lube bottle - a good lube like Lush Pure or Probe makes everything slick and slippy, and won't unbalance your vaginal eco-system - just provide a smoother and more sensuous experience!

2. Get it checked It's worth getting a checkup to rule out likely causes of painful sex, like infection. See a doctor you trust - every GP's practice should be able to get you an appointment with a female doctor if you'd prefer to see one. Your doctor can also give you information on sexual health clinics, support groups, and specialists who may be more able to help you.

2. Take your time... Women's arousal naturally builds quite slowly, but taking the time to really build up is well worth it.

The more you warm up, the more you'll feel relaxed and in the mood. It can help to get in the mood with a hot volume of erotica or DVD, to warm up slowly with a vibe, to ask for more kissing and cuddling on the sofa before hitting the bedroom, or for more foreplay once you get there - whatever you need to get fired up and ready to go.

3. Check your protection... Condoms, dams and latex gloves are vital safer-sex supplies, but if some folks have a latex allergy which can cause pain during or after sex. If you think it might be affecting you, try switching to latex-free condoms, gloves, and dams.

4. Keep talking. It's not the easiest subject to raise, but telling your partner you're experiencing pain can be incredibly helpful. The best lover in the world isn't telepathic, sadly, so keep the channels of communication open. It can be worth discussion when you're not in bed - sitting down with a cup of tea and talking it through is a good technique. Together you can work out what you need to do to keep sex pain-free - from finding positions that suit you to looking into buying lube or toys.

5. Take time out for yourself Your mind is your biggest sex organ, as they say, and it does have a profound influence on physical experiences and the process of arousal. Dealing with painful sex can bring up a lot of emotional issues, so it's worth considering your past experiences, your history with sex and whether they could be affecting your responses. Speaking to a doctor or a counsellor can be a very helpful part of this process.

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6. Knowledge is power Even in the 21st century, women often aren't taught some of the most important things about their bodies - but the information is out there! The Clitoral Truth is a fantastic 'owner's manual' for the structures and systems of female sexual response - it's required reading for Trainee Team Sh! members, so you know it's a good resource! Check out some sex guides aimed at women for information that can help you understand and work with your body.

7. Practice makes perfect! It's important to take time to look after yourself - and to have a good time! We recommend a quiet night in with a favourite vibe, a much-loved dildo, or whatever you fancy.

Make it a date and seduce yourself...

Don't focus on the goal of pain-free sex too much, just go with the flow and do what you enjoy. Once you're confidently having fun solo, it's much easier to involve your partner in play and show them what you like.

8. You are not alone It's not something we talk about much, but lots of ladiez experience painful sex, or other sorts of vulval pain - so if you do, you aren't alone.

The Vulval Pain Society is a fantastic support group for women dealing with these issues, and their partners. You can also contact a GP, a support group, specialist, counsellor, or whoever you feel you need. Don't be afraid to go out and ask for support.

That's a super-brief round-up of our top tips for enjoying pain-free sex. If you have any questions, or want to discuss anything we haven't covered, please do email us in confidence, or leave us a comment.



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