Only a third of sexually active women say they never experience pain during sex

Eir NolsoeData Journalist
June 16, 2022, 11:00 AM GMT+0

One in eleven sexually active women say they experience pain or discomfort every time or most times they have sex that prevents them from fully enjoying sex or even having to stop

Gender bias in medicine and medical research has long meant that women’s health has been under-researched. In recent years there has been a growing focus on widely common but little known women’s conditions like endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome, which can lead to pain and discomfort during sex. But how many women’s sex lives impeded by pain overall?

YouGov data shows that most British women who have ever been sexually active have experienced pain or discomfort during intercourse to the point that they could not enjoy themselves and/or had to stop (57%). This figure includes one in eleven women who say it happens every time (3%) or most times (6%) when they have sex, while a further fifth (18%) experience pain that makes sex unbearable from “sometimes”.

For three in ten women (30%) it happens, but only rarely. Only one in three (34%) women who have ever been sexually active say that they never feel this way.

The figures differ depending on sexual orientation, with bisexual women the most likely to report experiencing pain and discomfort at 68%. This includes one in eight who say it happens every (5%) or most times they have sex (9%).

Lesbian women are the least likely to experience pain to the point not enjoying themselves or having to stop during intercourse, with approaching half (49%) having experiencing it. This includes some 7% who say it affects them every time (3%) or most times (4%) when they have sex.

Straight women fall in between the two, with 55% ever experiencing such severe levels of pain or discomfort, including one in twelve who suffer every (2%) or most (6%) times they have sex.

Among women who have not been sexually active in the past six months and who previously have experienced severe pain or discomfort during sex, over two fifths (45%) say such pain plays a role in why they are not sexually active. This includes 13% who say it’s a big factor and 12% a moderate one, while a fifth (20%) say it’s a minor factor.

Some men also struggle with painful intercourse

Among men, three in five gay men likewise say pain and discomfort impacts their sex lives, although only a small number say it happens every (2%) or most times (3%). Approaching half of bisexual men (45%) also have issues with it, although only 6% always or frequently experience pain.

Such discomfort is more rare among straight men, with slightly more than a third having ever experienced it, including ony 3% who say it happens all or most times.

See the full results here: nat rep and heterosexuals sample / lesbian, gay and bisexuals sample

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

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