Is pain during sex normal?

We spoke to a gynecologist. Here's what she told us

By Alice Peter-Bhagtaney

KARACHI: Although many women around the world struggle with anxiety when it comes to their first time, matters become slightly more problematic in our part of the world. Here, most women are sexually inactive prior to marriage (not to mention, sex education is amiss), which leads to greater uncertainty and the added social pressure to deliver. You know how they say ‘half knowledge is dangerous’, well the only thing some women seem to know about sexual intercourse is that it’s going to hurt.

We spoke to Dr Talat Alkhairy, a gynecologist and obstetrician based in Karachi, to figure out the answer to the age-old question: is sex SUPPOSED to hurt?

“No, actually. It’s wrong to think that pain during sex is normal. Yes it might hurt the first few times but if the pain is persistent then there could be a number of medical reasons for it,” she said.

Some of the most common reasons for always experiencing pain during sexual intercourse, according to Dr Alkhairy, are:

Vaginal infections: These can be of various types but most commonly women suffer from a yeast infection, also known as vaginitis. Symptoms include itching, burning, discharge and pain while urination.

STDs: Sexually transmitted diseases (STD) and sexually transmitted infections (STI) are often spread by vaginal intercourse, anal sex or oral sex. It’s important to get yourself checked routinely.

Vaginal dryness: This is caused by a drop in estrogen levels often due to menopause, childbirth or breastfeeding, radiation or chemotherapy, surgical removal of ovaries or other various medical reasons.

Lack of lubrication or not enough foreplay: It is always recommended that during sex, you should always use the right lube so the penetration is smooth. With foreplay, a woman’s vagina also naturally lubricates itself. So if you’re experiencing pain during sex, it could possibly be because you aren’t properly lubricated.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease: This is an infection of the female reproductive organs, which is often caused by some STDs such as chlamydia and gonorrhea.

However, there are various other medical as well psychological reasons (read: Vaginismus, a major psychological reason women experience pain during sex) that could be making your sexual experience less enjoyable and more painful.

Keep in mind though: Sex is not supposed to hurt. It’s supposed to be a pleasurable experience for you and your partner; and if it’s not then it’s time to seek medical assistance.

This is part of a series in which we plan on asking question many of you might be unable to or uncomfortable to ask. If you have any questions, drop us an email on

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