Stories about Painful Sex

Learning what other women have experienced, and what they have done about it, can help you with your own situation. Below are stories by women who have experienced painful intercouse and/or difficult entry.

Woman #1

I was referred to you by my OBGYN. She highly recommended you for my problem. I did my yearly Pap exam today. It's usually uncomfortable for me and some years I just avoid the exam altogether. I was surprised to hear my doctor say that I have vaginismus. I have never heard of this, so I did some research and decided to call you like she'd recommended. I am pretty happily married but my sex life with my husband is a struggle for me.  Sex hurts, it's hard to do intercourse and I don't enjoy it. I have been married for 8 years!!!!  Why am I having this problem and what do I do about it?

Woman #2

I'm almost 30 and have been dealing with vulvar pain for the past 5 years. I've seen 3 - 4 different doctors and a therapist, tried lots of medicines and am still looking for solutions. I am getting pretty down about this and

New clients always welcome.
Please email Mary or
phone 408.371.4847.

it'saffecting my relationship with my boyfriend.

Woman #3

I have severe pain in the 5-7 o’clock area of the introitus (the skin just inside and surrounding the vaginal opening).  The pain occurs when I touch that area with my fingers, on vaginal exam by my doctor and on any attempt at intercourse. My relationship with my partner has become very strained because we are unable to have intercourse.  When we try there's severe pain and we stop.  I have not experienced any problems like rape or incest.  My relationship is very good in all the other areas.  My family was very open about sex and I am very comfortable talking about sex. 

Woman #4

I am a 26 year old woman from India in a happy arranged marriage for two years.  We have postponed trying to get pregnant for 1 ˝ to 2 years and now want to get pregnant.  In fact, our families are asking a lot about when there will be a grandchild!  And our friends are all having babies for a few years now.  They ask, too.  I get aroused and lubricated but we have always skipped intercourse because the penis just does not go in.  It hasn't really mattered until now as we were able to find pleasure with one another and were not trying to get pregnant.  However, I'm starting to feel lots of pressure to start our family soon and am losing confidence that intercourse will ever happen.  I recently went to my first visit for Gyn exam and the doctor could not complete the exam for the same reason of my body being tight down there.  I have also tried using tampons but was too scared to insert one and could not find where it should go. No one ever talked about sex in my family and there are still some things I might not know about how my body works.

Mary's Reply:

Dealing with painful sex is a specialty for me.  I have been working a lot with this for about 10 years.

I am a cognitive behavioral sex therapist.  

  • The cognitive means that how you think effects how you feel. 
  • The behavioral means I work a lot in a practical fashion...homework, talking, learning, reading...whatever helps you get to the goals you set.

When treating painful sex, I also usually work in an interdisciplinary format with a pelvic floor physical therapist, an MD, and pain management specialists, as needed.  It is important to note that some pain conditions can be successfully treated and that is the hope for all cases. Other conditions are chronic and we work to better manage the pain.  The goals in that case would be to reduce pain frequency and intensity while improving individual and couple understanding / communication and adapt sexual / life functioning.

I am flexible in how often you need to see me. What type of treatment the problem needs, your time, finances and other factors help determine how often we meet.  If you are in a relationship, it is good if your partner can attend some or all sessions as long as that is a comfortable and useful approach for you.

The first session is often the hardest one to attend as many women feel some mixture of shame, guilt, pressure , frustration, embarrassment and/or fear. Getting a good working definition or diagnosis of the problem can help reduce the sense of personal blame that many women feel when they first come in.  Establishing a comfortable working relationship between the therapist and the client helps the process work better as well.


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Mary M Buxton LCSW, Inc. - Sex & Couple Therapy - Licensed Clinical Social Worker  #LCS 7780
15951 Los Gatos Blvd., #14, Los Gatos CA 95032 -  Phone: 408. 371.4847 -  Email Mary

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