Between the Sheets: Pain and Discomfort

An important thing to consider in dialogue about sex is that it is not necessarily enjoyable for everyone, and that that's okay. It doesn't have to be, but with all the talk in media and day to day about how great sex is, it might not always feel that way. Whether due to physical conditions (such as endometriosis or PVD), emotional factors, or it just not being your thing, there are many people who do not have the same positive experiences with sex as others. QuestionWhat are your experiences with pain or discomfort during sex and talking about it? Are there any pressures relating to it?


A: Sometimes when me and my boyfriend have sex, at first, I’ll feel pain, but I’ll tell him to wait a little before “putting it in” ( ;) ) and we’ll do more foreplay. I don’t continue if I feel pain because why would I? It’s supposed to be enjoyable for both of us. The very first time we had sex, when I lost my virginity, I didn’t feel any pain because… Foreplay.


A: I struggle with depression and anxiety, and have a hard time feeling comfortable with people. This can make sex ‘icky’ for me even if I’m communicating with my partner and it’s going well physically. If I’m feeling more anxious or depressed I have a harder time feeling comfortable so it can become painful, but even just the pleasure of sex is uncomfortable for me at times. And it’s easy to say ‘don’t have sex if you’re not comfortable,’ but it’s not really like that. I want to, the discomfort just gets in the way. It can be frustrating and disheartening because I want to be able to enjoy it, and feel like I should (especially when I am experiencing the positive physical sensations of it, my partner is enjoying themselves, or people are telling me I’m just not doing it right when I’ve had enough positive and negative experiences to know my body).


A: Other than my first time, I do not typically experience a lot of pain while having sex, or, if I do, I usually enjoy it enough to continue despite some discomfort. Certain positions I don't typically find comfortable, and luckily my last partner could tell right away I was not happy about the position we were in and stopped to change to a much more comfortable one.


A: Talking about it can be fairly embarrassing, especially if I feel uncomfortable and the sex has just started. My biggest issue when having sex, is a hip problem I developed before puberty, and due to this, I can't stay on top for very long. Although my old partner never seemed to be bothered much by it, I felt slightly embarrassed and disappointed that I couldn't do it.


A: I never experienced any pain during sex whatsoever until I got my copper IUD. Side effects are only "supposed" to last two or three months, with heavier periods, more cramps and some pain during sex. I've had my IUD for about two years and the pain has continued. It's really unfortunate because I had been so lucky with no pain during sex, and now during penetrative sex it can be sensitive if it's too deep. It's become a constant struggle between when to mention it to my partners, because they often overreact and think I want to stop altogether, but needing to mention it to re-adjust a bit.


A: I am someone who struggles with anxiety (like many others do). What I never considered is what that anxiety would do to my body physically, especially when it comes to intimacy. When I was younger, I one day stopped being able to put in tampons, only to find out from a doctor that it was not a physical condition such as PVD or endometriosis. Instead, my anxiety was so high that my body would shut down. So you can imagine how uncomfortable and painful sex can be, especially when it is with someone I am not sure I trust! I am very lucky to be able to say that it is a psychological barrier that I will overcome, but the stigma surrounding it makes me feel so frustrated for people who suffer with PVD or endometriosis. With my ex, he refused to acknowledge the fact that I was in pain-- rather, he took it as a sign that he was failing and that his masculinity was being ridiculed because of it. My problem, and body's problem, was no longer about me and what I was feeling. It was always about the way my body was making him feel, despite him not being the one suffering from it. I cannot begin to put into words how frustrating and heartbreaking that was to have something so intimate and special become something that brought shame. Ironically, it wasn't even shame for me, because I'm not particularly ashamed of my anxiety, but rather shame for the person at the other end.


Between the Sheets is an series where SFU women can be empowered through reading the thoughts and experiences of women like them, and anonymously contributing their own! We deserve a space where we can feel comfortable and confident with expressing our sexuality (regardless of how sexual we are), and it's time we make one.

Thank you to all the women who sent in their responses this week. Read next week here: and send in anonymous responses and requests here:

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