Sex & Pancakes

Dear Melissa,
Every time I have sex it hurts. It makes it really hard for me to orgasm and makes my boyfriend feel bad every time we have sex. What could be wrong with me?
—Bad Sex

Dear Bad Sex,

First off, all of you out there need to start being more specific with your questions! I can’t answer a question like this without knowing whether you’re a man or a woman, in a heterosexual relationship, etc. I don’t want to make assumptions, so details matter!

Luckily I was able to clear this up—and “Bad Sex” is in fact, a woman.

That being said, there could be many different reasons why sex is painful for you. So, I’ll do a bit of an overview to help you figure out a course of action.

The most likely reason sex is hurting you is that you’re too dry. Some girls have trouble producing their own lubrication (or getting wet), which is nothing to be worried about, but something to be aware of. Since you’ve come to expect sex to hurt, you may also not be as excited to get to it, which might be making it harder for you to get wet. Try using lube next time, which I’d recommend even if you think you do produce enough of your own natural lubrication, because it can do no harm, but likely will do lots of good.

You should also try to spend a little extra time on foreplay, if you don’t already. It isn’t always given the credit it deserves, but foreplay is a really helpful step in preparing your body for sex.

Another possibility is an infection, like a yeast infection or urinary tract infection, or an STI. You may have noticed other symptoms, but even if you haven’t, these are still possibilities.

Your vagina could also actually be too tight. This could be from not being sexually active for very long, the size of your partner, or even from waiting a while between periods of sexual activity. If you think this might be the case, I’d suggest using lube, and having your boyfriend spend more time fingering you to loosen you up a bit more.

If none of the above proves to be the culprit, then it could be vaginismus. Vaginismus is a condition in which involuntary muscle spasms in the vagina make sex extremely painful, and in some cases, impossible. It’s hard to say how common it is, because a lot of women don’t realize their problems are because of this condition, but I will say that at least three people I know personally have suffered from it and used therapy to cope, so I don’t think it’s extremely rare.

Vaginismus usually has an emotional trigger, and while it varies depending on the person, it is often the result of a traumatic experience, or the anticipation of pain, which becomes reinforced through the pain experienced when sex is attempted. Recovery usually involves identifying and confronting the underlying issue.

Regardless of what you may suspect to be the problem, the best thing to do is see a doctor and have a pelvic examination. We can speculate all we want, but until a doctor checks you out, there isn’t much I can say with certainty.

—Melissa Fuller

Get checked out at Concordia Health Services. You can phone 514-848-2424 ×3565, or go online at They have locations at both campuses. Send your dirty little secret sex-related questions or qualms to

This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 29, published April 5, 2011.