When Sex Hurts

Everyone talks about how much sex they’re having: either people say that they aren’t getting enough sex, or they think that too much makes them a slut. And how do you know if you’re having the right amount of sex? Should you start scheduling evenings for the deed to make sure everyone is satisfied? Maybe set up a calendar event to remind you that you really should run that errand on the way home so you have time for a pre-bedtime romp? Now, if you and your partner want to set up something like that, have fun. Maybe the anticipation of the encounter is what makes the act all the more interesting for you. With all this talk about schedules and frequency, it can be easy to assume that more is always better. But rarely do we talk about why we want so much or so little.

Dear Mr. Promiscuous,

People keep telling me sex is awesome and I should have more of it. Is it weird that I’m just not that into it? It’s messy, it’s painful, and it’s exhausting. I’d rather watch a movie. Am I asexual? I’m attracted to my partners, but it just doesn’t seem worth it to act on that. Is this to be expected since I’m a cis woman?

– She’s Just Not That Into It (she/her pronouns)


Alright, easy parts first. The only thing expected of you for being a cis woman is that your sex matches your gender. There is no part of being a woman (cis or trans) that means you have a set level of sexual attraction, arousal, or that you be into anything in particular.

As far as being asexual, you could be and there wouldn’t be anything wrong with that. Still, there are plenty of other reasons that you might not be into sex, so a little experimentation shouldn’t hurt, right? We’ll come back to the discussion on sexual orientation after we go through a couple of things that might help you zero in on what you do and don’t want as far as sex. Starting with the fact that it shouldn’t hurt. I’m not saying that in the “Sex is magical and the fact that you’re having it elevates you to a higher plane” sort of way, but in the fact that if you’re having sex and it actively hurts then something’s not right.

So, if it’s hurting, then what could be wrong? Well, you could just not be aroused enough. Foreplay (any actions you take for the purposes of building up to sexual acts) aren’t just fun, but vital if you’re going to be having penetrative sex. It helps give your body time to get ready for sex (starting the lubrication process that makes penetrative sex easier) as well as getting your mentally in the mood. You might want to try slowing down the rush to sex if that is the problem that you’re having.

Speaking of being mentally in the mood, are you feeling up to having sex when it’s offered? If you’re trying to have sex at a time when your either already tired, hungry, or having a lot of other things on your mind, you might want to rework the timing. Give yourself time to destress from the day and allow your mind to relax and that may also help make sex more fun and less work.

If the actual act of sex is the problem, then there’s plenty of ways that may make that more pleasurable. Firstly, do you know if what you’re doing is sexy to you? That may seem like a weird question, but not all “sexy things” are created equal. It’s quite possible that the things your partner are doing, while sexy for them, are not hitting the right spots for you. The things that turn one person on don’t necessarily work on everyone, so knowing what turns you on and gets you going can lead to a better sex life in general. If you’re not sure what works, then try exploring that. Masterbation (if that isn’t something that you do) can help by letting you explore what kinds of touching, rubbing, and other sorts of contact that help get you revved up and ready to go. If you and your partner are comfortable with it, you can masterbate together (also called mutual masterbation). That way your partner can see the sorts of things you like to have touched and in what ways to do it. It’s also pretty hot, if you don’t mind me saying.

There’s also the question of how you’re having sex. Earlier, I mentioned that sex shouldn’t be painful, and if it still is so after trying the things above then there may be some mechanical issues about the positions you’re in that may just be uncomfortable for you. While missionary position (lying on your back) is the “standard” position, you are really only limited by your imagination as far as the positions you can have sex in. Try a couple of different ways of laying down, leaning against things, or even standing that might make you more comfortable, especially if you’re having penetrative sex. If sensation is the problem, then you may want to try adding a couple of sex toys to help reach the areas you enjoy. There are plenty of people that can’t reach orgasm from penetration alone, so adding something as simple as a vibrator can take your sex from a chore to a joy.

And if you experiment and think through all of this and still feel like you might be asexual (or ace) then that’s fine, too. It might be that you’re ace and while you don’t mind having sex with your partners, it’s not really something you like for yourself and there’s nothing wrong with that. The important thing to do through all of this is to talk to your partners about how you feel. A lot of the ideas above can be done on your own, but making sure you can talk to your partners about how you feel, what feels good, and things you’re worried about will go a long way towards everyone involved being happy no matter what the end result is.

Hopefully, the above information will help both you and your partners have their needs met, no matter the type of relationship structure you have. It can be worrying to think that you’re somehow deficient because how you see sex in your relationship, but I can tell you that you’re not. All you are is a person, and people are vastly different from one another. Nothing you can find out about yourself makes you ‘wrong’ or ‘selfish’ and all sorts of things that people can tell themselves about how they feel about the sex they’re having or not having. As long as you and your partners are talking about it and everyone is listening to how each other feels, then things will work out.

-Mr. Promiscuous


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