Ask the experts: I have a lot of discomfort during sex, but I’m too embarrassed to talk about it
25th Feb 2019
Need help with a problem of the sexual nature? Our resident agony aunt Rhona McAuliffe (with a little help from Durex, of course) is here to help…
“Myself and my boyfriend used to have sex four or five times a week – I know! – but recently I just haven’t been feeling it. We’re still pretty active but I’d do it more if it wasn’t so uncomfortable. It’s not all the time but I do seem to be ‘dryer’ at certain times of the month. Using a lubricant seems like a natural solution but I’m way too embarrassed to introduce it or even talk about it with my boyfriend. I suppose I feel like I would be admitting that my body is the problem here too. I’m also bad at talking about sex stuff, even with my friends. Where do I start?”
Okay, let’s start with this: your body is definitely not a problem and you have absolutely nothing to feel embarrassed about. I know that’s easy to say and much harder to work through IRL, especially when intimate chat is not your home zone but think of us as a virtual cheering squad, leading the way!
Although vaginal dryness is often associated with menopausal women (i), the contributing factors are vast and very often nothing to do with age or life stage. You mention that your discomfort appears to be cyclical and this again, is very normal. Hormonal fluctuations play a huge role in everything from our pH levels to our vaginal secretions (ii). Stress, anxiety (iii) and even the side effects of common hay fever remedies can impact our physiological make-up (iv) and contribute to intimate dryness and painful sex. Our hormonal cycles throughout the month can also impact our sex lives, and it can be difficult to navigate a solution.
If you’re experiencing vaginal dryness along with a lack of sexual desire, your libido may have taken a hit too so it’s certainly worth exploring further with your GP (v). Remember that there’s also a chance that your partner — or what he’s doing — just doesn’t turn you on anymore (vi). Regularity doesn’t necessarily imply heightened levels of desire, so this is also worth examining. Perhaps the old routines are losing their allure and you both need to switch things up a bit?
Enter, the transformative powers of lube! Continuing on our myth-busting parade, there is a common misconception that intimate lubricant is solely to alleviate dryness or to facilitate more experimental sex and this is definitely not the case. If used creatively – in masturbation, with a sex toy or beneath a condom, for example, it’s well regarded as the single most important aid in taking sex to the ‘next level.’ We’ve all heard about that sex, right?
So, start with a water-based lubricant – which is condom-safe, easy to wash off and kind to your body. Introduce it as a ‘surprise’ for your boyfriend, a new toy to play with. Most men appreciate sexual guidance and it may well be that your boyfriend senses that you are less aroused by him at the moment. Explain that the lubricant is not because you don’t desire him but that sex has been occasionally painful for you recently and you think introducing lube may help.
I know you don’t feel hugely comfortable discussing it but you could ask him to give you an intimate massage with one or two drops of lube and see where you end up. (Heaven, I suspect). Yes, these are big steps to take when sex chat is not your thing but you may also find that by opening up the conversation and broadening your sexual repertoire, you will in turn progress to a new realm of self-discovery. And if your boyfriend is averse to lube – for some ungodly reason – tell him that you think his penis might have grown since you met, that you need assistance to take all of him on. That should do it.
(i) – WebMd
(ii) – HelloClue.com
(iii) – CalmClinic.com
(iv) – Dr. Sadaty
(v) – Netdoctor.co.uk
(vi) – Everydayhealth.com