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    Why Does It Hurt When You Get Turned On? Pelvic Pain During Arousal and Intercourse Explained

    Updated 25 November 2021 |
    Published 26 February 2020
    Fact Checked
    Olga Adereyko, MD
    Reviewed by Olga Adereyko, MD, Primary Care Physician, General Practitioner, Medical Consultant
    Flo Fact-Checking Standards

    Every piece of content at Flo Health adheres to the highest editorial standards for language, style, and medical accuracy. To learn what we do to deliver the best health and lifestyle insights to you, check out our content review principles.

    Sex should be a pleasurable activity, but sometimes it’s not. If you’ve ever had pain in your vagina during sex, you’re not alone. Many women have experienced pelvic pain when they get turned on. We’ve outlined various reasons you might have pain during sexual arousal and what you can do about it.

    Why do you feel pelvic pain during intercourse?

    Dyspareunia is the term for pain just before, during, or after sex. Pain during sexual arousal can be felt in many different places. You may feel pain externally, in your labia or vaginal opening. You may also feel pain deep inside, all the way near your cervix. Some women report stomach pain when they’re sexually excited.

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    If you have pain in your vagina during sex, keep track of where the pain is. The location of your pain might indicate what’s causing it. Some common issues behind painful sex are emotional. Emotional factors include:

    • Stress — When women experience stress in their daily lives, the body responds by tightening the pelvic floor muscles, which can make sexual arousal and intercourse painful.
    • Psychological factors — Self-esteem, anxiety, and depression can all play a role in sexual arousal. Fear of an emotional relationship with another person can cause you to experience pain during arousal and sex.
    • History of abuse — Some women who have experienced physical, sexual, or emotional abuse experience vaginal pain during sex.

    If you can pinpoint one of these emotional factors, such as a stressful and hectic daily schedule, look for ways to relax your stressful day. Doing exercises to relax your pelvic floor muscles before sex can make a big difference. If you believe your pain is a result of psychological factors or a history of abuse, you can talk to your doctor about how to process your emotions. 

    If you are not aware of any emotional issues surrounding your pain during sex, you may have an illness that’s causing pain. 

    Other reasons you may experience pain during sex

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