Let’s Talk Painful Sex with Dr. Amy Bock

Let’s talk painful sex!

You all know by now that I love to speak on topics that are hard to talk about publicly and are let alone, embarrassing. 

When I found out treating painful sex was a part of my girlfriend’s job description, as a pelvic health Doctor, I had to get her on the blog ASAP (for the second time). 

Painful sexual intercourse is so common, yet no one talks about it! It is not only important in a relationship, but also important for our health. There are so many benefits to having sex… a few being:

  • Boosts your immune system
  • Stress relief
  • Burns Calories
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Improves sleep

So I want to bring on a professional that can help us ladies feel good about ourselves in the bedroom and in the end, have more sex!

Please welcome Dr.Bock (formerly known as Dr.Renslo) back to the blog!! 

You can read our other blog here on all things pelvic health. (One of the most popular blog posts on the site!)

Hiiii Dr.Bock! So happy to have you back on here! Real quick – can you refresh us all on your background + specialty?

Hello lovely people, I am so excited to be back on the blog with one of my greatest friends Shylah May! My name is Dr. Amy Bock (name recently changed after getting hitched 🙂 ) and I am a Physical Therapist who specializes in the pelvic floor.

Now… pelvic floor may be a term many of you have not heard before, but that is exactly what we will be discussing today and how it is related to SEX.

Currently I am living in beautiful Laguna Beach, CA with my husband Nick + cat, Yeti. I’m practicing physical therapy at the world renowned clinic of PelvicSanity in Laguna Hills.

I would LOVE to talk about painful intercourse. So many girls deal with it and nobody talks about it. So let’s talk about it!

I could not agree more! To begin, let’s talk about the important facts of painful sex.

Heads up – I am a bit of a research nerd so I am going to start this out with some numbers.

A study back in 2017 published by the International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology with almost 7,000 sexually active women aged 16-74 years old (WOW a lot of people) found that almost 10% had experienced pain with intercourse; ¼ of those women also reporting the pain lasted LONGER than 6 months.

This study also broke down pain reports with varying age ranges; painful sex was reported the HIGHEST in young women ages 18-29 years old. That is almost 20% of that population (this is a high number! In a group of 10 friends that could be 2 of you!).

Basically to break this down, we can tell pain with intercourse is COMMON but not normal. Read more about the study here.

Now, let’s connect this to the pelvic floor and talk about WHY pain happens. The pelvic floor includes the muscles, nerves, blood vessels, and bones etc. of your pelvic girdle (check out the picture below…it is really complex and that’s JUST the muscles).

The pelvic floor is an intricate hammock of tissue connecting our upper body to our lower body. It controls all our primal functions…pooping, peeing, and procreating (it is literally essential for our survival as a human species!). 

But, today we are going to focus on the procreation side of things! Why we experience pain with sex!

The pelvic floor muscles, nerves, and blood vessels are what control:

  • Arousal (blood flow going to the pelvis)
  • The act of penetrative sex (the muscles/nerves need to be able to stretch to allow for insertion)
  • Orgasms (basically a cascade of muscles contracting, nerves firing, and blood flow flowing).

Often women experience pain with intercourse when the pelvic floor muscles are TIGHT or OVERACTIVE; this can inhibit blood flow and irritate the local nerves. This is a common factor in WHY the pain happens during sex.

In my field of practice of pelvic physical therapy, pain with sex is often called dyspareunia, vulvodynia and is also a component in many women with endometriosis and even irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

When you meet with a specialist like myself, we uncover the WHY as to what is causing the pain! In pelvic PT, we use trigger point release, myofascial release, pelvic alignment, breathing techniques, and many other tools such as dilators to address the issue! 

Painful sex is SO relevant for our generation (10-20% of y’all)  and education on what IS and is NOT normal is all some people need to seek help and find solutions to their pain.

If you are experiencing pain with intercourse I would HIGHLY recommend seeking a professionals medical help; really finding your local pelvic physical therapist, sex therapist, or medical doctor. 

Here are some at home tips I give my patients for addressing painful sex:

Communication: having opening communication/trust with partner is key. Let your partner know what feels good and what doesn’t. If you need your partner to go slower, communicate that to them!

LUBE: proper lubrication is so important to make things more comfortable and less frictiony. Here are some brands I typically recommend! 

Stretching/breathing: Stretching and breathing can help prepare the pelvic floor for sex. Try doing the below stretches for 60 secs each and timing your inhale with insertion (our pelvic floor naturally relaxes with our inhale) 🙂

Take a bath: Warm water helps to relax pelvic floor muscles before or after sex.

Change positions: We can use positions to our advantage to change speeds/depth of penetration:

  • Cowgirl (being on top): allows you more control of depth/speed of intercourse. 
  • Modified missionary:  knees bent/feet raise (basically happy baby) can reduce pain because it is more likely to allow the pelvic floor muscles to relax
  • Side lying: allows for more control of depth. 

Okay… and if this wasn’t complicated enough today we only focused on vaginal, penile penetrative intercourse!

Pain can occur with other forms of penetration and is not exclusive to the female gender. Overall, if you are experiencing pain with physical intimacy (male or female) it is good to understand you have OPTIONS to address it.

I know it is tough to discuss pain with intercourse with medical professional but understand there is a whole field of specialists waiting to help you! <3

Thank you so much for taking the time to hop on + sharing all of your knowledge on this topic. Please let us know where we can find you! 

Of course! I’m just SO excited to help spread the word on how the heck to treat pain with sex!

You can find my website here: amybockpelvicpt.com

You can also find me on social media! Feel free to DM me!

Shylah here! I hope this helped – I loved learning that painful sex is not normal, but is common and there is a medical professional here to help treat the problem!

Comment below if you have any questions! I hope this helps you enjoy having safe sex! <3

Also – do we like topics like these? Let me know xx

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