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Q: Why is vaginal penetration so painful for me? I feel like I’m always dry down there. How can I get my lubrication back? It’s so painful that I don’t even want to have sex anymore, and I don’t know how to overcome my fear.

If you’re experiencing unwanted sexual pain, it’s completely understandable that you aren’t particularly inclined to have sex.

If this happens often, it could be a sign of genito-pelvic pain/penetration disorder (GPPPD).

GPPPD is a combination of painful sex (dyspareunia) and involuntary vaginal muscle spasms (vaginismus).

Symptoms often include:

  • involuntary vaginal muscle contractions
  • pain or burning when vaginal penetration is attempted
  • low or no desire to have penetrative vaginal sex
  • avoiding sexual activity out of fear of unwanted sexual pain

If you’re ready to seek out medical care

If these symptoms sound familiar, I recommend making an appointment with a gynecologist. They can advise you on treatment and other next steps.

If your gynecologist diagnoses GPPPD, they may refer you to a physical therapist who specializes in the pelvic floor and a sex therapist.

Sex therapy can help you learn how to manage and overcome the emotional symptoms of GPPPD, while physical therapy can teach you how to use vaginal dilators to help your pelvic floor muscles relax.

If you’re experiencing vaginal dryness

If you haven’t already, add a vaginal lubricant to your routine. Lube can help reduce friction and other irritation so you can start to enjoy sexual activities again.

I recommend investing in a lube that’s hypoallergenic, long lasting, and that you could use in water.

Überlube, for example, is a silicone-based lube made from only four ingredients. Unlike water-based lubes, it won’t evaporate, so you won’t need to reapply.


Dr. Janet Brito is a nationally certified Latinx sex therapist, supervisor, speaker, trainer, and author. Dr. Brito is the founder and owner of the Hawaii Center for Sexual and Relationship Health, a group practice that specializes in relationship and sex therapy, out of control sexual behavior, and gender and sexually diverse populations, and The Sexual Health School, an online training program for healthcare professionals seeking human sexuality training.

Education

  • Loyola University Chicago, BS
  • Columbia University in the City of New York, MS
  • Pacifica Graduate Institute, PhD

Certifications

  • Licensed Clinical Psychologist
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker
  • AASECT Certified Sex Supervisor
  • AASECT Certified Sex Therapist

Professional Accomplishments

Affiliations

Headshot of Janet Brito, Ph.D., LCSW, CST
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