Q&A: I Experience Vaginal Tearing During Sex, Even With Lubricant

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QUESTION: For the past few years, I have experienced painful tearing at the entrance to my vagina. It happens every time we have intercourse, no matter how slow or gentle we are. The only suggestion my doctor has is to use lubricant. We could use a whole bottle and this still happens. We think the main problem may be a genital size. Please help!

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Sometimes women are vulnerable to cuts and tears because they and their partner spend very little time in foreplay, resulting in low vaginal lubrication.

If you have been having sex with your partner for several years, but have only been experiencing small painful cuts or tears for the past few months, then I would be surprised if genital size is an issue. Unless, of course, your partner has suddenly grown in terms of his penis size, which is unlikely if he is about your age.

Skin Condition

I would encourage you to check in with a different doctor, such as a dermatologist.

There are some genital skin conditions that make the genital skin more vulnerable to cuts and tears. One such condition is called lichen sclerosus. It is often marked by itching and by areas of hypopigmentation (basically, white spots of skin on the genitals) but not everyone has these symptoms.

Trying New Things

Other times, women are vulnerable to cuts and tears because they and their partner spend very little time in foreplay, resulting in low vaginal lubrication. However, if you’ve found that adding lubricant to your sex play doesn’t help, then that may not be the issue.

You might try having sex in the woman on top position so that you can control the penetration.

And before trying again, you might take several days – even as long as a week – off of sex to give your body time to heal. Perhaps your vaginal entrance has not had time to heal and so it keeps tearing again in the same place.

More Information

If you would like a second opinion, you can try to find a doctor who has particular expertise in the area of vulvovaginal health by contacting the International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease.

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Read Dr. Debby Herbenick’s response.

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Dr. Debby Herbenick (M.P.H., Ph.D.)

is a sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, Associate Director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University and author of several books including Sex Made Easy and Because It Feels Good: A Woman's Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction.
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