Pain With Sex Uncategorized

The Myths Around Painful Sex: Exposing the Truth

As a pelvic health physical therapist, I’ve had the privilege of helping individuals navigate through a myriad of pelvic health and sexual health issues. Among these, one of the most pervasive yet misunderstood concerns is painful sex. It’s a topic often shrouded in silence and shame. It’s time to break the silence and debunk the myths surrounding painful sex. Dive in with me as I address the most common myths I hear and expose the truths instead.

Image of a banana and blood orange on a dark green background.

Myth #1: Painful Sex is Normal

Let’s start by dispelling one of the most harmful myths – the notion that painful sex is just a normal part of being intimate. While discomfort during intercourse is relatively common, it’s not something that should be brushed aside or endured silently.

Women are often told that it’s normal to have some pain during sex. It means you’re a good woman and your vagina is tight. (Don’t get me started on the many taboos around the tightness of the vagina.) 

When someone is in pain during sex, it tells us – scientifically – that their body is denying pleasure at the minute. It’s our job to be curious and find out why. 

Pain is a symptom and not a diagnosis. It’s like the tip of the iceberg. We often ignore it just like Titanic ignored it, and we all know what happened.

Painful sex can have many underlying causes, including pelvic floor dysfunction, hormonal imbalances, psychological factors, and more. Ignoring the pain can lead to worsening symptoms and even strain relationships.

Some of us try to power through to get better because our moms and Google tell us that it’s normal. We are told that it gets better the more you do it. My question is: if you’ve been having painful sex for a long time, and it didn’t get better by the same things, why are you doing this to yourself

If it’s not working, try something else.

The pelvic muscles have one job – to keep you safe. If it hurts, your brain and body are going to tighten muscles even more to protect you. When you push harder to power through, it makes it worse. 

You need the help of an expert to get to the root cause of what it is that makes your muscles react that way. 

We understand how the nervous system works with our muscles. We know how to use pelvic floor physical therapy to help you get better so that you can experience the mind-blowing sex that you’ve been missing.

image of a couple cuddling together in bed

Myth #2: Painful Sex Only Affects “Me”

Another of the prevalent myths is that painful sex is not common, or it feels like you’re the only person experiencing it or being impacted by it. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

When sex hurts, it can feel like a very defeating experience. It’s extremely hard to talk about and can feel isolating. However, you’re not alone! Millions of women worldwide struggle with painful sex. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that the global occurrence of painful sex to be about 18-20%. That’s one in five women, on average! This average also changes depending on the part of the world you’re looking at, as well. It can be as high as 33% (Iran) to 68% (Ghana).

While it may feel isolating, you are not the only person experiencing it. You’re not alone.

Painful sex can also profoundly impact your partner. Beyond the physical discomfort, these conditions can strain emotional bonds and intimate relationships.

A person suffering from pelvic or sexual pain may experience feelings of frustration, embarrassment, and even shame, which can affect their self-esteem and confidence. This, in turn, can lead to avoidance of sexual activity, communication breakdowns, and a sense of isolation.

For their partner, witnessing their loved one in pain can evoke feelings of helplessness, guilt, and inadequacy, as they may struggle to provide support or find solutions. Additionally, the strain on intimacy and sexual connection can lead to feelings of rejection or resentment.

Thus, pelvic pain and sexual pain become not just individual health challenges but also relational ones, requiring open communication, empathy, and mutual support to navigate effectively. Addressing these issues requires a holistic approach that encompasses physical, emotional, and psychological factors.

image of a woman at a gynecology appointment, addressing the myths surrounding sexual pain.

Myth #3: It’s Just This One Problem

One of the myths people often believe is that their pelvic problem is just that and that there are no other issues with their health. What they forget is that hole health is your whole health. 

We may experience other sexual or pelvic health issues like fertility problems, yeast infections, constipation, etc. These are all difficult to talk about because they’re private. 

The intimate nature of these problems makes us hide those problems. However, the more your pelvic health provider knows about you the better we can help you. 

Pelvic muscles are all connected, so maybe you’re having painful sex due to constipation or other pelvic issues we need to be aware of in order to help you as best as we can.

Sex problems aren’t just sex problems, sometimes they are other health problems showing up as sex problems. It’s crucial to approach painful sex with a comprehensive evaluation that considers all physical and emotional aspects.

image of a couple holding each other, committed to living beyond myths surrounding sexual pain.

Myth #4: You Just Need to Relax

Telling someone experiencing painful sex to “just relax” is not only unhelpful but can also be dismissive of their genuine concerns. This is one of the more harmful myths. Painful sex is complex and often challenging, but it is not insurmountable.

While relaxation techniques can be beneficial for some individuals, they’re not a one-size-fits-all solution. Painful sex often requires a multidisciplinary approach that may involve physical therapy, medical interventions, counseling, and lifestyle modifications. Addressing the root cause of the pain is key to finding effective and lasting relief.

As a Pelvic Physical Therapist, I am dedicated to providing comprehensive and compassionate care to individuals with vaginismus. I want to help them reclaim their sexual health and overall well-being. Treatment goes beyond simply “relaxing” with a glass of wine. It involves a holistic approach addressing both the physical and psychological aspects of the condition. With the right support, education, and therapeutic interventions, individuals with vaginismus can overcome their challenges and thrive.

To learn more about the approaches that have been proven successful in my own practice, pop over to the article I wrote specifically on this topic: Why You Can’t Just “Relax”: Treating Vaginismus

image of a woman sitting on the end of a bed with her head in her hands, burdened by myths surrounding sexual pain.

Myth #5: Painful Sex Is Untreatable

Perhaps one of the most disheartening myths is the belief that painful sex is untreatable. However, that’s simply not true!

Pelvic health physical therapists are trained to assess and treat a wide range of pelvic floor disorders, including those contributing to painful intercourse. From manual therapy techniques to biofeedback training and therapeutic exercises, there are numerous interventions available to help individuals reclaim their sexual health and well-being.

Physical therapists are experts who are skilled at solving muscle problems like painful sex, constipation, and pelvic pain problems.

As physical therapists, we are trained to do our job well, so you can trust us and know that we can help you. 

The puzzle of painful sex often involves pelvic muscles as one of the core components. There is no one better than a pelvic floor physical therapist to solve it. 

Maybe you’ve tried pelvic floor physical therapy before and were let down by another practitioner. I get that. However, you can look at my success stories and years of experience to see that I am truly capable of helping women recover from pain and return to being sexually active.

Get in touch with us today and book a free discovery visit or a telephone consultation to find out whether we can help you. It won’t cost you anything, and you’ve got nothing to lose.

Darshana demonstrating pelvic muscles on an anatomy model in a pelvic floor therapy session

My Commitment to Exposing Myths

As a pelvic health physical therapist, my passion for dispelling myths and helping individuals overcome painful sex stems from my own personal journey. I’ve seen firsthand what it is to see a mother always think of someone else, never miss a day, do it all, and never have the time to take care of her own health. 

I know what it means to be busy and have so many lists going on that your self-care is at the bottom of that list. The system has failed us as women. Our grandmothers and mothers have been doing it all for years without taking care of their health.

I’ve been working with busy women like you for the last 16 years, so I truly understand what you’re going through, and I am here to help you. 

After the chaotic days you have, you’d like to find some joy and happiness in being intimate with your partner, but pain during sex can stop you from that. 

You shouldn’t have to live in fear of having sex with your partner, and I am here to help you overcome the fear and the pain so you can enjoy intimacy again.

I understand the feelings of embarrassment, frustration, and isolation that often accompany pelvic pain and sexual dysfunction. But I also know that there is hope and healing to be found. By challenging the myths and misconceptions surrounding painful sex, we can empower individuals to seek the help they deserve and embark on a journey toward greater intimacy and fulfillment.

A couple lying on the beach together. One person is lying on their back, reaching up and grabbing the face of the other person, who is lying on their stomach.


Painful sex is a complex and multifaceted issue that affects individuals of all genders and ages. By debunking the myths and shedding light on the truth, we can break the silence surrounding this taboo topic and pave the way for open and honest conversations about sexual health. As a pelvic health physical therapist, I am committed to supporting individuals on their journey toward healing, empowerment, and reclaiming their sexual well-being. Remember, you are not alone, and there is help available. Let’s work together to shatter the stigma and create a world where everyone can experience pleasure and intimacy without pain or shame.

Darshana sitting with a bony pelvic model

If you’re in the Seattle area, I can help! I know you might be nervous, and unsure whether pelvic floor physical therapy is right for you. That’s why I offer two FREE ways to speak to me, and my expert team in our Seattle clinic. You can either speak to us over the telephone or come into our clinic. You can get answers to your questions, get personalized advice, and learn about the safe, proven, and natural ways we can treat your problem fast and naturally!

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