March 2, 2023 10:03 AM   Subscribe

Explicit question inside about momentarily painful sex.

When my partner ejaculates inside me without a condom, it feels like a few quick stings.

We'd used condoms for decades, and that never hurt. Before that, long ago when we didn't use condoms, that didn't hurt either. We recently stopped using condoms because I'm now in menopause. Suddenly, his ejaculate feels like quick little stabs or stings.

I read about menopause-related changes in natural lubrication and vaginal skin, but everything feels good until the moment he comes. Because of that, while lube is an option, it's not a preferred one. Same goes for using condoms now that we don't need them for other reasons. I also read about semen allergy, but I don't think that's it, because my pain is over in a second or two.

Is this another of those menopause things that somehow no one talks about? Is it something to do with my partner's semen? Anyone know the cause?

Throwaway email at didntliketheending at good old gmail with the dot and the com.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

Mod note: Removed a comment that suggested an allergy already mentioned and discarded in the original post.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 10:35 AM on March 2, 2023

There are two elements in this problem, your vagina and his ejaculate. It sounds like you are exclusively looking at changes in your vagina for the cause, but perhaps it is a change in your partner's ejaculate. I would suggest: thinking about if your partner's diet has changed radically since the last time you has condomless sex without pain and him having a check-up with a urologist.
posted by hworth at 10:46 AM on March 2, 2023 [4 favorites]

As you’ve already noted, semen allergy is exceedingly rare. I wonder if the stinging you notice has to do with timing. During the menopause transition, vaginal tissues become more friable. Could it be that the stinging sensation isn’t from the ejaculate per se, but because you’ve reached the limit that your vagina can comfortably tolerate penetrative friction by that time? Your partner’s ejaculate on tissues that have outlasted their friction threshold could absolutely cause stinging.

As a fellow menopausal vagina-haver, I encourage you to reconsider your anti-lube stance. I totally get the “it feels good until it doesn’t” scenario you’re describing. There are many quality lubes on the market that won’t irritate you and will make sex even better. Good lube completely eliminates burning/stinging pain for me.
posted by little mouth at 11:21 AM on March 2, 2023 [11 favorites]

I'll jump on the lube recommendation. Keeping this a family site, the movement is different between general thrusting and ejaculate spasm and I would posit this could be creating a catching/stinging sensation for you. This is less noticeable in a condom and they are generally lubricated.

You might try a lube sampler pack to see if you can find a consistency you like. If you don't have a favorite store luckybloke is poorly named but has done well for me in the past for variety packs and is plenty discrete.
posted by Narrow Harbor at 11:38 AM on March 2, 2023

There are some hormonal suppository creams that can be perscribed to help with dryness, if that's the problem. You could also discuss hormones in general with your doctor. The friction could be causing tiny injuries which you aren't noticing until you do. Even with this option you may still need additional lubricant.
posted by AlexiaSky at 11:56 AM on March 2, 2023

Credentials in my bio, and I've worked in OB-GYN, so I'll point out that the most likely candidate here is semen coming in contact with abraded mucosal tissue and causing irritation/stinging. I'm squarely in the camp that encourages you to try lube and see if that helps after giving yourself a couple days to heal from the last session. Mechanistically, this is an issue of osmolality differences and it's pretty well understood in the clinic (and not just for PIV sex), which is the nitty gritty reason behind little mouth's comment above ("Your partner’s ejaculate on tissues that have outlasted their friction threshold could absolutely cause stinging"). There are lubes out there that are more in line with human vaginal osmolality so, short of me making product recommendations, that might be a useful search term help you in your search for a lube that works well to help resolve this issue. If you're interested, mail me and I can make a couple of suggestions and point you to the publications that back them up (but you can defintiely find this information yourself via Google). Hang in there and good luck!

To bury the dead horse there is no mechanism for allergy to cause immediate irritation like this. Ditto dietary changes.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 12:18 PM on March 2, 2023 [29 favorites]

In addition to lube (which I really urge you to reconsider), you might also give vaginal estrogen a try, because it can restore the robustness of your vaginal tissue and keep it from being so susceptible to abrading in the first place.
posted by HotToddy at 2:21 PM on March 2, 2023 [2 favorites]

Important to also note that the PH of the vagina can change after menopause, thus causing more irritation and reactions like infections. Personally, I'm on a small dose of Testosterone for menopause and it's amazing. (4mg) I cannot take estrogen. I always mention this because it's important for people to know! Menopause also affects testosterone levels and sexual response (among other things) can be improved with low doses of replacement T.
posted by Crystalinne at 6:34 PM on March 2, 2023 [6 favorites]

I have no qualifications, but Google or maybe it was Apple News happened to serve me up this article that suggests it could be localized seminal plasma hypersensitivity. It says it's not the same as an allergy, and I don't know whether late afternoon dreaming hotel's statement that there's no mechanism for immediate irritation applies in this case, as well.
posted by daisyace at 3:48 PM on March 13, 2023

Thanks for the nudge to speak to this, daisyace. That diagnosis, SPH, is super rare. It's odd that the doc quoted in that piece refers to SPH as being caused by a mechanism that's different from other allergy mechanisms (that isn't true, it's a plain ol' IgE thing). Nevertheless, it is a real thing that you can consider here! The article points out trying sex with a condom to see if that helps, but that doesn't help distinguish between SPH and irritation. What might help in an SPH situation, though, is for you to take an over the counter antihistamine a couple hours before you have sex. Does that seem to help? Then SPH might just be your answer. If that's the case, lube isn't the solution but the article mentions desensitization therapy, which I hadn't heard of before in this context but is genius. It's like low dose tolerance allergy shots but with diluted semen which I am now going to read about in the literature (thanks for the investigative journalism, daisyace, you learn something new every day!).
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 1:36 AM on March 15, 2023

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