Many women believe that avoiding intercourse and giving their vagina a “rest” is the best antidote to painful sex. Experts say the exact opposite is true. “There is some measure of truth to the axiom that if you don’t use it, you lose it,” says women’s health expert Christiane Northrup, MD. Northrup is the author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom. Stop having sex, she says, and resuming it may be that much harder — both physically and in terms of desire.
At the same time, she says, pain with intercourse is not normal. It often occurs when your partner simply isn’t arousing you enough. In other instances, hormonally driven vaginal dryness — like the vaginal dryness some women feel when nursing a baby or going through menopause — can also cause sexual discomfort. A little dollop of a lubricating product or an estrogen cream applied directly to the vagina, Northrup says, is all you need to eliminate discomfort from painful intercourse related to hormones.
If arousal is the problem, Northrup says talk to your partner about increasing foreplay. Then do whatever it takes to get you through the excitement phase and make your body ready for intercourse.
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