Q&A: When I Have Sex, I Get A Tear At The Bottom Of My Vagina

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QUESTION: Every time I have sex, even if I use lubricant or make sure there is enough foreplay I get a tear at the bottom entrance of my vagina (the fourchette I believe it's called). It is not really painful. Just a slight sting. But I have to wait until it heals every time and this is getting extremely annoying. Is there a solution? Please help!

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Waiting

Photo: Tom Magliery

Waiting

I’m sorry to hear that you’re so prone to tearing during intercourse.

Statistics

Some research suggests that about 10% to 24% of women experience vaginal tears, even very small ones, during consensual intercourse. And data from our National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior show that about 30% of women report pain during vaginal intercourse, some of which is likely associated with tearing as well.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you should just chalk it up as something that you have to deal with.

Health

You may find it helpful to check in with a healthcare provider, such as a gynecologist, and tell him or her that even with sufficient lubrication and foreplay, you are still tearing. You might ask if there appears to be anything about your genital anatomy that would make you prone to tearing.

Possible Causes

You might also ask your healthcare provider if it appears you have a skin disorder, such as one called lichen sclerosus, that can make some women more prone to genital tearing. If so, certain topical creams may help to improve the health of your skin and make it less likely for you to tear.

You didn’t mention whether this has happened with all sexual partners or with just one sexual partner. If your partner has a particularly large penis, or large for your vagina, this may also make it more likely for you to tear during sex.

Alternatives

As you try to figure out the cause of your tearing, some other things you can do include choosing sex positions that give you more control over penetration, such as woman on top, and/or expanding your sex play so that you sometimes engage in other activities, such as oral sex, rather than intercourse.

That may at least provide you with some opportunities for sexual pleasure with your partner that may be less likely to result in vaginal tearing.

To learn more about vaginal and vulvar health, check out The V Book: A Doctor’s Guide to Complete Vulvovaginal Health or Read My Lips: A Complete Guide to the Vagina and Vulva.

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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