You experience pain during intercourse
“Pain during sex may occur initially with first sexual experiences, but should not persist over subsequent contacts,” says Dr. Wendy Wolfman, director of the menopause unit at Mt. Sinai Hospital, and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Toronto. Ongoing pain during intercourse should be investigated. “Sometimes people have pain during sex because they have an infection, or something wrong internally, so a gynecologist should assess the problem,” she says.
Other causes of pain during sexual activity include vaginismus (a muscular issue that causes a woman’s pelvic muscles to tighten), and menopausal dryness and shrinkage of the vaginal opening. A talk with your doctor can help you find a solution. “There are many things we can offer women who have discomfort during intercourse,” says Dr. Wolfman. Pelvic physiotherapy can treat vaginismus, while local estrogen therapies, lubricants, and dilators can aid menopausal sexual discomfort. Don’t miss these 22 myths gynecologists want you to ignore.
Your number of sexual partners
Your gynecologist isn’t going to pass judgment on how many sexual partners you’ve had. She requires this information to ensure that you’re having safe sex, and are free from sexually transmitted infections (STIs)—infections that can cause pelvic pain and affect future fertility. “We want to make sure that you’re using barrier protection, especially female or male condoms,” says Dr. Wolfman. Some STIs such as the human papillomavirus (HPV) can also cause cervical cancer. Using condoms during vaginal, anal, and oral sex can help lower your STI risk. Every woman over 30 should know these 20 tips for good sex.