- Christine Trumble PT, OCS, WCS
Sex should not be uncomfortable!
In the title, I purposely did not use the word pain. Working with women over the last 22 years, I have learned that RARELY will women use the word pain. During my evaluations, my question used to be "Is intercourse or penetration ever painful?" and the response was usually no. However, further into the assessment, they would share with me that tampons are uncomfortable, and they try to avoid pelvic exams at all costs. Again I ask - " but intercourse is not painful?" they say no. So I learned to ask " is sex uncomfortable?" The response is typically "yes isn't it for everyone?" The answer is NO!
At Trumble Pelvic Physical Therapy, we evaluate 5-6 new patients a week, with the complaint of intimacy being uncomfortable. Sometimes, they are here for hip pain, or incontinence, but when the questions comes up regarding issues with intimacy (now that I ask it correctly) is often yes. The women in their 20-30's, may believe that is how sex is supposed to feel, or delivering their babies have caused this. Some are in their mid 40-50's, who thought it was normal for it to get uncomfortable as they approach menopause. Some are in their 60- 70's that believe the myth, that you aren't supposed to have much sex when you get older.
So, I want to get the word out to you, your sisters, your friends, your moms and aunts. If you would like to engage in sexual relations, you should not be limited by or have to endure being UNCOMFORTABLE! Please tell everyone you know. Part of the issue why this misinformation continues is that we typically don't share this piece about our lives with others. including medical professionals.
So to be clear- uncomfortable intimacy, intability to tolerate the use of tampons, pelvic exams, not able to achieve orgasm and other issues is a SYMPTOM, it is not a diagnosis.
Why? The pelvic floor muscle is a large muscle that spans the entire bottom of your pelvis, from tailbone to pubic bone and laterally, sit bone to sit bone. The rectum, the vagina and the urethra all exit the pelvic floor. Very often the pain has to do with the nerves and the muscles becoming hypersensitive and or the muscle has become shortened, or trigger points have developed in it. This is why women can have vaginal, rectal and/or urethral SYMPTOMS.
The medical community is in agreement that the cause can be complicated, usually not clear cut and often multifactorial - but is treatable.
My purpose of this blog is not to give you a seminar on the causes. I just want you to know that uncomfortable intercourse/penetration is not normal, should not be tolerated, and can be treated - no matter how old or young you are! Let's get the word out.