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August 22, 2022

Your pain with penetration, explained

Whether it’s tampon insertion, OBGYN exams, or intercourse, the latest research shows that 75% of women experience pain with vaginal penetration at some point in their lifetime. 

75%! This is one of the reasons we believe every woman deserves the option of pelvic floor physical therapy care.

The majority of the time, the cause of this pain is a pelvic floor muscle issue. Specifically, hypertonic (tight) pelvic floor muscles. 

If you have pain with penetration, here’s your breakdown of which muscles may be causing your specific symptoms:

1st layer:

Symptoms w/ penetration: burning, scratching, sharp pain

Muscles: superficial transverse perineal, bulbocavernosus, ischiocavernosus, external anal sphincter

2nd layer: 

Symptoms w/ penetration: irritation, tugging

Muscles: deep transverse perineal, sphincter urethrovaginalis, compressor urethra, external urethral sphincter

3rd layer:

Symptoms w/ penetration:  hitting a wall or “cervix”, pain at end-range 

Muscles: Levator ani [includes pubococcygeus, puborectalis, iliococcygeus] and coccygeus

[fun fact– the pelvic floor muscles are what you are feeling, not your cervix!]

As you can see, the pelvic floor is a complex system and each layer needs to be working correctly in order to have pain-free penetration. The good news? ALL of the above symptoms and layers can be treated with PT! 

Here is our extensive list of sexual dysfunction issues and pentatrative issues that we treat. 

  • Pain with intercourse (insertion, during, afterward)
  • Lack of arousal or lubrication
  • Cervical pain
  • Spotting or bleeding after intercourse
  • Low libido
  • Leaking
  • Difficulty with orgasm 
  • Pain with arousal
  • Anxiety/worry prior to intercourse
  • Numbness/decreased sensation

Please contact us if we can help you with any of the above! 

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