Mary, age 25, has been married for one year. While she and her husband are very much in love, they share a secret they have told no one. Despite numerous attempts, they have been unable to have sexual intercourse. She has also never been able to insert a tampon or finger into her vagina. Betsey, age 32, confides in her gynecologist that while she is able to have a pelvic exam, she and her boyfriend have been unsuccessful in having sexual intercourse. Upon further questioning, her doctor learns that Betsey is still a virgin.
ABC of sexual health: Female sexual problems II: sexual pain and sexual fears
The following situations and conditions can contribute to or cause pain during intercourse or other forms of penetration. The first few times you have intercourse or experience vaginal penetration, you may feel a small to moderate amount of pain at the entrance to the vagina. There can be some bleeding or no bleeding at all—both are normal. The reasons for the pain are not always clear, but it is typically temporary. An unstretched hymen vaginal corona has typically been blamed for this pain at first penetration, but new understandings of the hymen suggest otherwise. But not all hymens meet these criteria, and women without substantial hymens can also experience painful penetration. The truth is that research has not told us with any particular specificity why it is that this discomfort happens, or why it happens for some women regardless of hymen type and not others.