1 in 13 women find sex painful—here’s what you can do to fix that

Sex might not feel as great for her as you think: After surveying nearly 6,700 British women, UK researchers found that 1 in 13 of them reported feeling physical pain during sex. What’s more, women who found sex painful were also more likely to feel uninterested in sex and had more trouble getting wet and reaching orgasm.

Sex can hurt her for lots of reasons. About 2 percent of the women who reported feeling pain said their pain was severe. In those instances, underlying medical issues with her uterus or other common conditions, like urinary tract infections, were the cause, explains Mitchell.

But more often, the pain is just caused by a lack of lubrication. In fact, 45 percent of the women in pain also reported experiencing vaginal dryness—the main culprit behind uncomfortable sex for most women, says Mitchell.

“Sex is often painful because the woman is not properly lubricated, so really paying attention to the build up, working up to what she wants, and not focusing on the penetration will help,” she explains.

Making sure she’s wet enough helps all the moving parts slip and slide with ease, so sex feels like the pleasurable experience it’s supposed to be. If she gets dry, painful penetration instead, she’ll start to anticipate it and get anxious, says Mitchell. This anxiety makes it even harder for her to get wet. And sadly, she probably feels too self-conscious or anxious to say anything to you about it, meaning she might just be enduring it to spare your feelings, she adds.

That’s why it’s up to you to communicate with her: Openly ask her if what you’re doing feels good, says Mitchell. If things feel off, let her know it’s okay to be honest with you and that you want the experience to feel just as good for her as it does for you.

If what you’re doing hurts, there are a few ways to work around it so the next experience is better for her, says Mitchell.

For starters, always have lube on hand if she needs a little extra help.

Plus, penetration doesn’t have to be the main event, says Mitchell. Stimulating her clitoris with your fingers or performing oral sex can feel just as good, if not better, than actual penetration.

This will help your relationship in the long run, she says. Focusing on her pleasure makes her feel less nervous and more turned on, which ultimately leads to more (and better) sex for the both of you.