Tag Archives: pain during sex

Q&A with J: “Pain and UTIs Have Shut Down My Sex Life”

With today’s question, I’m leaving a lot out, because the wife’s explanation of her heartbreaking circumstances was over 1000 words. But to give you an overall picture, below are her words in italics and my summaries in between.

From the very start, sex was painful for me, but not in the usual way I suppose. I am able to withstand/ even enjoy when my husband penetrates my vagina, but once he ejaculates, I suffer from severe pain and burning that lasts for up to an hour after we have finished….I mentioned this to my OBGYN within a few months of being married, but she was unconcerned stating that we just needed to use more lubrication. We were using lubrication from the get-go, and using more did not seem to help my problem.

Orgasms were rare, took great effort, and left her sore for days.

More recently, she began having problems with severe urinary tract infections. Given that she is on oral contraception, she and her husband refrain from sex while she is on antibiotics. With illness and antibiotic use, they’ve had sex twice in six months and she contracted UTIs both times. Her physician encouraged her to try sex again, noting the possibility of a third infection is small.

At this point, I am so terrified of getting a UTI again, and starting antibiotics again, and having the whole vicious cycle start over again that I flat out told my husband a month ago to not even try, I am done with sex! I know that this is the wrong attitude to have, and it is not something that I truly desire in my heart…

She eliminated parabens from her beauty products, after hearing of Jennifer Smith of Unveiled Wife attributing this to resolving some sexual problems in her marriage. She’s also willing to drink a lot of water, use cranberry supplements, etc. But…

I am so afraid of getting another UTI, that I have emotionally shut down to the idea of attempting sex again.

Q&A with J: "Pain and UTIs Have Shut Down My Sex Life"  @Hot, Holy & Humorous

Both husband and wife are distraught and have prayed and questioned God about this issue. She wants to express love to her husband, but her body is not cooperating, her heart is hurting, and she needs answers.


Oftentimes, when pain in intercourse is discussed, certain conditions come to the forefront — vaginismus, dryness, infection — but what if your pain isn’t due to one of those? Not only are you frustrated by lack of intimacy and experiencing extreme pain, but no one seems able to tell you what’s going on.

I consulted a physician and did a bit of research to determine what’s happening. My research showed several possible diagnoses for burning during sex: inflammation of the vagina (vaginitis); vulvodynia (ongoing vulvar pain); contact dermatitis (allergy); sexually transmitted diseases; pelvic inflammatory disease; vaginal thrush; hormonal changes; etc.

When you present to a doctor with a common problem, they tend to rule out the most likely causes first. Which is why you might get advice to use more lubrication, relax your body, etc. Because honestly, some pain in intercourse really is about that. BUT having been brushed off by a OB-Gyn twice myself for extreme pain during intercourse, I’ve learned you may have to “go the mat” on your issue and demand better answers. You are the one going through the horrendous pain and you must be your own advocate for your health.

With that in mind, here are some things to consider:

Birth control pill. The most common form of contraception is the birth control pill — which fakes out your body and keeps you from ovulating the way you normally would. In other words, it messes with your hormones. Given how I often I saw menopause, hormonal changes, and medication side effects listed in possible causes for intercourse pain, I have to wonder if the pill might be up to some mischief here.

The pill works perfectly fine for some women, but more and more couples have concluded in recent years that it’s not the right choice for them. It can cause a dip in libido and mood and produce other not-so-fabulous effects. It seems reasonable to at least play with this as an option, since you’re considering other possibilities like the presence of parabens.

Physical issues. Your OB-Gyn should be doing a thorough pelvic exam, cultures for fungal and bacterial infections, and/or vaginal ultrasounds. Among the burning-during-sex possibilities, I noted adhesions, vaginal thrush, vaginitis, ectopic pregnancy, endometriosis, and more. Something internal could be causing your sexual pain.

Ask for a thorough work-up. Explain how incredibly painful the experience is. Remember that question, “How bad is the pain on a scale from 1 to 10?” I give you full permission to tell your doc it’s a 12½! Whatever it takes to get the point across that you need to quickly rule out common reasons for pain in intercourse and find out what’s really going on down there.

This one’s hard, I know . . . but if your physician will not perform a full exam and tests to find the source of your discomfort, find another physician. At that doctor’s office where I was brushed off, I finally saw the physician assistant who immediately diagnosed and resolved my issue. Of course, that’s the last time I went to that OB-Gyn, and my new doctor was far more attentive to my concerns.

Aversion to him? One interesting idea I saw floating around out there is you could have a hyper-sensitivity to his ejaculate. Meaning that something in the composition of his semen irritates your vagina.

Before you panic, (1) I suspect this is rare, (2) I have no idea if this is the issue, and (3) there are options for dealing with it. Interestingly enough, our body’s sensitivities and his semen can change somewhat based on what we do and what we eat. If this were the issue, you might be able to tackle it by changing up diets or activities in ways that alter this interaction. Also, there are condoms. Now, I know this doesn’t work for when you want to reproduce someday, but it could be a temporary fix for still engaging and not risking irritation.

Mental blocks. I have a friend who got food poisoning once from shrimp and will not eat shrimp ever again. Though she knows it’s illogical, she has a (reasonable) mental block about that food — because it made her so sick she wanted to die! Likewise, if every time you have sex, you end up in pain and with a horrendous infection . . . well, how many more times would you want to do that? Probably zero.

And yet . . .  You want this intimacy with your husband. You want to bless him with sexual satisfaction. You long to have a normal sex life in your marriage. Which means, at some point, you have to forge ahead and leap over that mental block. But I will not tell you to grit your teeth and do it. You and I both know God wants more for you than chore-like sexual encounters. Thankfully, your husband is also unwilling to put you through a painful encounter (mine was too). Instead, this is something that needs to rebuilt brick-by-brick, not thrown up like prefab housing.

The Bible phrases it as “awakening love” (Song of Songs 2:7, 8:4). Think of it like the blossoming of a flower. Plant the seeds by reawakening your sensuality, your pleasure in his touch, your sense of safety and peace. Spend time being affectionate, with slow touch and/or mutual massage, passionate kissing, soft fondling. Make that your physical intimacy for a bit while you return to relaxing in your husband’s arms. Then let your desire sprout into letting him arouse you externally, through manual play, and oral sex if you’d like. Bring him pleasure through hand jobs, or “blow jobs” if you wish. For the time being, let it be okay for him to finish himself off if needed, as long as you are completely part of the experience — continuing to be present and engaged.

Will this be difficult? Yes. But it’s certainly preferable to the nothing you and he are dealing with now. While you seek answers for your difficulties, expand your definition of sex to include all kinds of passionate touching, kissing, and satisfaction that can kindle the fires of your sexual love. When your body is once again ready, your mind and heart will be too.

I wish I had a single answer for you. I wish I could say, “Aha! I know what you’re going through. It’s _____!” I don’t. I threw out a bunch of possibilities here, mainly to show you there are genuine medical explanations for why a wife would experience such consistent, difficult pain. And I encourage you to pursue answers wholeheartedly. If you don’t get answers in one place, look in another. You may need to see a specialist. Just don’t give up. And keep your beloved husband beside you — as your fellow teammate in this quest and your ever-so-wonderful lover-man.

I pray you find answers soon and move into the beautiful sexual intimacy God desires for your marriage!

Working Through Physical Pain in the Marriage Bed

Well, tickle me happy! One of the marriage advocates I most admire is here today: Jolene Engle of Christian Wife University. And she’s talking about an important topic for many of you wives: physical pain in sex. Here’s her story and insight.

Working through Pain Guest Post by Jolene Engle

Not long after I became a Christian, I met and married my husband. We remained pure until our wedding night because we wanted to honor and obey the Lord with all aspects of our lives. Now, I’ve got to tell you, I. could. not. wait. to have sex with my new husband!

You should have seen me at my wedding reception. I ate my dinner fast and I ate my wedding cake fast. This new wife was looking to leave the party as soon as possible so I could head to our honeymoon!

But sex…it’s been a complicated thing for me. From dealing with the emotional baggage from a promiscuous past, to a low sex-drive (I entered into peri-menopause when I was 32), and then having physical pain when I had sex with my husband. This gal was not happy about the limitations and obstacles faced in the marriage bed!

It was just one month after our wedding day when the simplicity of our sexual intimacy died down. I received news from my doctor that I had precancerous cells of my cervix and surgery was now scheduled on my calendar. I eventually recovered from this, but what I didn’t know was that there was a storm up ahead that would sweep through our marriage bed.

It was less than two years later when we welcomed our firstborn son into the world, and that’s when the gale force winds of pain and infections swept through my body. After giving birth, I dealt with a gone wrong episiotomy and a prolapsed uterus which made sex extremely painful. When my next son entered the world, my body broke down even more. Each month I had rupturing ovarian cysts, and I dealt with depression due to my hormonal imbalances. My body was riddled with infections, and one infection invaded my private parts and stayed there for well over a year. The doctors had no answers. Vaginal Inflammation. Chronic Infections. Rupturing cysts. This was my way of life for so many years.

I was chronically ill, but I was also chronically seeking to connect with my husband. I didn’t want to deprive him because of what my body was going through. I believe this attitude helped my husband to be chronically understanding, gentle, and loving toward me. My health problems, the problems that the Lord allowed in our marriage, forced my husband to live out his biblical command to love me like Christ loved the church. He had to put that verse into action in the marriage bed!

If you’re dealing with physical pain, here are my tips:

  • Be intentional to pursue intimacy even when there is pain. (This doesn’t mean you have to have intercourse.) You can be Sex Savvy, as J has taught, and you can be creative in spite of your issues. This shows your husband that you still desire him regardless of your limitations. And let’s face it, some intimacy is better than no intimacy. Of course go slow and relax! The goal is connecting with your husband.
  • Work hard to find a solution to your problem. Become your own advocate in dealing with your health. Go to doctor after doctor after doctor until you find a solution. Read books. Eat special diets. (This helped with my inflammation.) Dig high and low to find answers and remedies to help you. The health of your marriage depends on your diligence! I found that when I did this, my man saw I meant serious business that our physical intimacy was important to me. And I believe my physical weaknesses helped him to live out 1 Peter 3:7: “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.
  • Don’t invite Satan into your marriage bed by turning to porn or reading erotica novels in the hopes that these things will fix your intimacy issues. These choices will just compound your problems by fracturing your emotional and spiritual intimacy. Keep in mind that God is allowing the physical limitations to take place in your body and He is the Great Physician. He can heal you at any time. Have faith. Have hope, and always choose a God-honoring path in your marriage bed. (If you’ve taken a wrong turn, just repent and get back on the narrow path.)
  • Use coconut oil. The lubrication will help your sexual experience, and since coconut oil is natural it shouldn’t cause any burning or irritation to your skin. Just make sure you’re not allergic to it! Test it on another part of your body, first.

It’s been almost 17 years now since I said, ‘I do’ to my man. We’ve endured a lot, but we’ve worked hard to try to fix my issues because our physical intimacy is important to our marriage. As I look back over all these year, it felt like my marriage bed was ravaged by the locusts, but my God (and yours) says this…”So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten” (Joel 2:25).

Fight for your physical intimacy rather than neglect it. You’ll be surprised by how much your determination will make a positive impact on your marital relationship. You’ll come out of this trial even stronger and closer as a couple.

Jolene EngleJolene was once an atheist who is now sold-out for Jesus Christ. Her heart beats fast for discipling women and you’ll find her doing just that at JoleneEngle.com. She is also the founder of Christian Wife University where she helps wives connect the dots from their reality to the Christ-centered marriage they long for and the one God intended.

Jolene and her husband, Eric, run a weekly podcast called, What’s a Girl to Do? where they provide biblical guidance for women and wives. She is also the author of the book and bible study, Wives of the Bible.