Is sex really not supposed to hurt at all?
June 29, 2006 1:35 PM   Subscribe

Is sex really not supposed to hurt at all?

Seems like any activity where you're banging sensitive skin into someone else's sensitive skin should have some potential for pain with all of the pleasure.

Yet I have read "Sex is not supposed to hurt. No really."
Should I not believe everything I read?

I'm male and I'm talking about "normal", penetrative intercourse with a woman, though welcome input from all genders regarding any sort of intercourse.

Specific talking points would be
-Yanked/irritated pubic hairs/hair roots
-Irritation/sensitivity at the opening to the penis
-General rawness at the base of the penis

I've been checked for anything urine tests and STD blood tests will allow, if that's relevant, but am interested to know of any diseases that appear as pain during or after sex.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Depends on what you mean by hurt. Pain is only a intensity of the sense of touch. Sensation of any kind is pain, considered good or bad by any number of relative factors.
posted by vanoakenfold at 1:41 PM on June 29, 2006

Never experienced any of those. As long as you don't bend something the wrong way, it doesn't hurt at all. And I'd have to go for an hour or more before it got "sore".
posted by Binkeeboo at 1:43 PM on June 29, 2006

Yanked/irritated pubic hairs/hair roots

I imagine trimming and conditioning (with normal hair conditioner) might resolve some of this?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:44 PM on June 29, 2006 [1 favorite]

Are you using condoms or lube? Both can cause the type of skin irritation you mention. I have a good friend with a latex allergy and he gets the irritation at the base thing when he uses latex condoms. He's also had a reaction to spermicidal lubricant, which caused irritation of the urethra and much concern until his doctor figured out it was an allergic reaction and not an STD.
posted by bedhead at 1:47 PM on June 29, 2006

vanoakenfold, pain isn't just an intensity of the sense of touch. There are separate receptors for pain, for pressure, and for temperature, and there are separate signaling pathways. As for how your brain interprets all those signals, well, thats a different matter.
posted by Good Brain at 1:50 PM on June 29, 2006

Yes, trim the pubic hair and make sure it is CLEAN--not entirely sure what type of irritation you're talking about.

And with all the hoopla over spermicidal lube, I've never used it (female) because a) it's much more irritating to girl and boy bits and b) if you're using a condom and she's on birth control, there's not much more the 'cidal can do. Honestly, I've never known anyone who HAS used it because of the two points of just mentioned.

Irritation at the opening of the penis (the urethra/'pee hole'?) sounds like a UTI, but if you've been checked out....
posted by misanthropicsarah at 1:52 PM on June 29, 2006

It's not supposed to hurt. I think things might get better with more practice. Really.
posted by caddis at 2:04 PM on June 29, 2006

If you're having very vigorous sex or very long sex, the discomfort you describe is more likely, and probably just a sign of rougher or longer sex. This is part of the reason that women say that a man's staying power can be overrated. Too much prolonged rubbing in the same spots can become a bit sore. Varying your technique & positions may mitigate this.
posted by raedyn at 2:35 PM on June 29, 2006

Lube, lube and more lube. Think you've got enough, add a little more. Seriously, friction burns can be nasty and if you're talking about irritation at the base of the penis or yanking of pubic hair, you might want to experiment with lubricants.
posted by blueskiesinside at 2:36 PM on June 29, 2006

Lube Lube Lube Lube Lube and being thoughtful to your partner! Heard of foreplay, give her a lot (a wicked torrent) of love before you even get started with the aardvarking.
posted by parmanparman at 3:05 PM on June 29, 2006

I've never had anything remotely like this, for me sex really doesn't ever include pain of any kind.

It doesn't sound to me like a low lubrication problem, I would expect your female partner to have at least (probably much more, actually) as much irritation afterwards if that was the case, and you didn't mention anything like that. (Unless, of course, it's a problem with an allergy to the lubricant you're using.)

I third the idea that it might be a latex allergy. Try a polyurethane condom. Durex & Trojan both have versions.

I don't know how you can be getting your hairs pulled, try carefully trimming things back with scissors if you're super bushy (but don't shave if you're already very sensitive, the regrowth might push you over the edge).
posted by The Monkey at 3:19 PM on June 29, 2006

As a woman suffering from vulvar vestibulitis, I am adamant in telling all of my female friends: Sex Should Not Hurt. Period. There are only certain reasons normal everyday vanilla kind of sex would hurt, and those reasons are neither good nor normal. The most difficult step after realizing something is wrong is to find a doctor who believes you and wants to work with you to fix it. I am willing to talk to anyone who is suffering from vaginal pain, because it isn't talked about nearly enough.

I, however, know nothing about why a man might feel pain during sex. When you were checked for STDs, did you tell your doctor that sex was painful?
posted by rhapsodie at 4:31 PM on June 29, 2006

I suggest not using soap to wash your penis, especially if you have a foreskin. You can use a soap-free shower gel but a good clean with water is fine. Switching to non-bio washing powder may help as well.

And of course lube, for masturbation as well as sex.
posted by teleskiving at 4:40 PM on June 29, 2006

Regarding the rawness, if you're using latex condoms, you may be allergic to latex. From a female perspective, latex makes me feel lightly sandpapered; spermicide, in the presence of latex or not, gives me chemical burns. Polyurethane condoms are good, but they break more easily than latex, so always use lube with them.

Lube is not just for inadequate natural lubrication. Some women just don't produce something viscous enough to stand up to the friction, or don't produce it until mid-game, by which point the irritation may already have happened. Additionally, glycerine ("water-based") lube (and natural lubrication, in some people) turns sticky very fast, especially on parts exposed to air, and that sticking will pull on skin and hair. Silicone lube is safe for everything except silicone toys, and will stand up to just about anything. It is, however, a beast to get washed off. There are special cleansers for afterwards, but I find that liquid hand soap with moisturizers is the best post-coital cleanser.

A $20 beard trimmer is your friend, as well. The guards don't work well on longer pubic hair, but with a bit of practice you can learn to free-hand your sculpting down to about 3/4" of hair - not short enough for poky stubble, not long enough to get sticky.

You and your partner(s)'s natural chemistry and/or medications can cause some pretty acidic body chemistry. I have had some partners in the past whose ejaculate was kind of caustic. If it's your own semen causing the irritation, all you can really do is rinse off immediately, which will probably help. Actually, that might help in all cases, or at least might narrow down whether you're having a skin sensitivity issue at all.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:51 PM on June 29, 2006

I can't speak for the men, but as a lady sex is often painful for me. Not any unusual-type painful, but varieties on not-enough lube --> ouch friction, and occasionally some repetitive poking in an uncomfortable, did you just bruise my bladder? type way.

I've been checked out by my gyno and I'm normal, so I think it sometimes varies depending on the person. In my highly non-medical opinion, it sucks to be me.
posted by np312 at 6:01 PM on June 29, 2006

I've known one or two women who apparently took the metaphors about the male organ ("oh baby, I'm hard as a rock!" and "got wood" for instance) to mean that the penis was literally nigh-invulnerable. It is entirely possible to be too rough with a penis and it can indeed hurt. One woman in particular gave me a combo handjob/blowjob that left me too chafed for intercourse, rather like Kevin Smith in that story he likes to tell about the first time he had sex with the woman he later married, except unlike him I was smart enough not to actually attempt penetration with my manhood in such an aggrieved state. So, um, yeah, they are soft squishy body parts and they get injured rather easily.
posted by kindall at 6:18 PM on June 29, 2006

Sex shouldn't hurt. Unless you want it to, of course. If basic, bog-standard fucking is causing you pain, something's wrong.
posted by Decani at 6:34 PM on June 29, 2006

they are soft squishy body parts and they get injured rather easily.

Exactly. Sex isn't supposed to hurt in a general sense, but sometimes it does in a specific sense, including all the reasons you mention as well as "Ah shit, you're on my hair" and "That thing you keep poking your finger against is my cervix, STOP" There are a lot of things that could cause sex to hurt, especially if you weren't being especially communicative with your partner -- too deep, too much friction, too much biting, too much anal, whatever -- as well as allergies to things involed in sexplay that could cause discomfort such as latex and lube allergies. There are many people who think that sex isn't done right unless it DOES hurt, so there's clearly a range of information on this topic.

I guess my question is "Are YOU having sex that is painful when you think it's not supposed to be?" If so, what exactly is happening and what are you doing before/after it? Pubic hair yanking is avoidable [see what people have said above] but it does happen, and rawness can happen just when you've had too much of a good thing.
posted by jessamyn at 6:38 PM on June 29, 2006

Does your partner trim her pubic hair? If so, the stubs will hurt and cause pain, if not during intercourse immediately but afterwards.
posted by keijo at 7:09 PM on June 29, 2006

I used to get the yanked hair thing all the time with condoms. Only ever tried spermicidal lubed latex, so don't know if a different formulation would matter. And as others have said, Mr Johnson can get a little chafed from frequent activity, particularly hand jobs/masturbation.

I guess I would say that I've never had *unexplained* pain during sex, so if you're getting a little owie and can't figure out why, I'd see a Doc (I don't think urinalysis/STD tests would cover everything that could go wrong down there - particularly allergies/infections).
posted by Rock Steady at 7:19 PM on June 29, 2006

Good Brain: "sense of touch" includes pain, temperature, pressure, etc. It's all intensities of any given facet of the broad sense of touch that an individual decides what is too painful.
posted by vanoakenfold at 1:29 AM on June 30, 2006

sense of touch" includes pain, temperature, pressure, etc.

And the USA includes Hawaii, Texas, and New Jersey, but they are still completely different places.

We have pain receptors and we have pleasure receptors. Electricity to the right part of your brain would cause you to feel pain or pleasure. There are people who 'like' pain, but what they still experience is still pain.
posted by bingo at 5:41 PM on June 30, 2006

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