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Gynecologists Answer Your Burning Questions About Sex, Vaginas and Periods


A guest post by Deborah Coady, MD and Nancy Fish, MSW, MPH. They are Co-authors of Healing Painful Sex: A Guide for Women Confronting, Diagnosing and Treating Sexual Pain, published by Seal Press, November For more information visit:

Think you’re alone when it comes to having painful sex and experiencing embarrassing vaginal problems?

Think again.

Several times a week we receive emails from CollegeCandy readers asking us (and occasionally using italics pleading with us) to help them solve their sex issues. From painful sex problems to “can I get pregnant if…” questions, our inbox has seen it all. That’s why we got so excited when we received news that Dr. Deborah Coady, MD and Nancy Fish, MSW, MPH wrote a book all about healing painful sex and wanted to help our readers answer their most personal questions.

So with no further ado, here are the answer to your burning (pun intended depending on who you are) questions:

What should I do if sex is painful?

Persistent pain with sex needs evaluation and a correct diagnosis made by your gynecologist.  The good news is that in the vast majority of cases, treatment is available to cure or manage painful sex.  Do not ignore it because you think it will go away.  Early up to date treatment will help pain from your vulvar skin, vaginal opening, clitoris, pelvic floor muscles and connective tissues, nerves, and pelvic organs.  Seek care, and do not be hesitant to get other opinions if your healthcare professional is uninformed or uncaring about this.

Can I get pregnant from precum?

Yes, you absolutely can get pregnant from precum.

How bad is to skip your period when you’re on the pill?

It is fine to take the active pills continuously—however after 3-6 months you may experience spotting or staining, and to help this take 4 or 5 days off the pill to allow a menses.  But without a regular monthly cycle you may not know if you are pregnant.  If you have any suspicion or have skipped any pills accidentally, it is worth the peace of mind to take an over the counter pregnancy test every month or so.  The pill is 99% effective if used exactly correctly but failure rates do rise if you are not consistent in your use.

Why is sexual pain so different from other forms of pain?

Any form of pain can be debilitating and traumatic.  However, when women experience sexual pain there is the added element of shame, fear of talking about it, too few doctors who understand sexual pain, and the myth that sexual pain’s etiology is psychological and not medical.  Many women are worried that their pain is psychosomatic and fear that a doctor will tell them that their pain is all in their head.  Women are fearful and embarrassed to speak with their family and friends about this topic.  Therefore, these women are carrying a double burden; the burden of a terribly painful medical condition and carrying a deep dark secret.  All women with sexual pain suffer from a medical condition.  Having this kind of pain can induce an array of emotions including depression, anxiety, suicidal thinking, and social isolation. Women who suffer from sexual pain also feel like freaks or damaged goods.

How important is it for women to talk about their condition with doctors, family and friends?

It is essential that women find at least one person whom they trust to discuss their agonizing emotions.  Internalizing your feelings can make the pain worse due to added stress.  However, it is sometimes challenging to find a person who can understand pain.  There are many resources in our book which women can use to find emotional support and help.

Can women actually date when they suffer from sexual pain?

Although dating while suffering from sexual pain can be a formidable challenge, many women successfully date even before their condition is successfully treated.  Women may be need to more creatively sexually and ask their sexual partner for additional patience. However, a person who is worthwhile and a really caring person will be able to overcome the difficulties that may arise.  Nancy Fish and Dr. Deborah Coady have treated many single women who have entered into meaning relationships while being treated for their pain.

Want more answers? Check out the book by clicking on the cover below.