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What are some reasons for painful vaginal penetration?

Women may experience discomfort, even pain, with vaginal intercourse or other forms of vaginal penetration. If penetration is at all painful, do not put up with the pain! Find out what is causing it, and do something about it. Get regular gynecological exams to find out whether there are physical causes. As an alternative to penetration, try masturbating with a partner, oral sex, and other ways of gaining pleasure. The reasons for painful penetration could include:

Local Infection: Some vaginal infections—like monilia (yeast) or trichomoniasis—can be present in a non-acute, visually unnoticeable form. The friction of a penis, dildo, or finger moving on the vulva, or in the vagina, might cause the infection to flare up, resulting in stinging and itchiness.

Local Irritation: The vagina might be irritated by a birth control foam, cream, or jelly you are using. If so, try a different brand; however, if the irritation persists, it may be a reaction to the spermicide nonoxynol-9. This spermicide can irritate the vaginal membranes and thereby increase the transmission of HIV. Alternatives include polyurethane condoms, including female condoms. Vaginal deodorant sprays and scented tampons and all so-called feminine hygiene products can irritate the vagina or vulva, as can body wash, soaps, bubble bath, and laundry detergents.

Insufficient Lubrication: In most women, the wall of the vagina usually responds to arousal by sweating—giving off a liquid that wets the vagina and the entrance to it, which makes penetration easier. Sometimes there isn't enough of this liquid.

Our Bodies, Ourselves: A New Edition for a New Era

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Our Bodies, Ourselves: A New Edition for a New Era

America's best-selling book on all aspects of women's health With more than four million copies sold, "Our Bodies, Ourselves" is "the" classic resource that women of all ages can turn to for...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.