'I find sexual intercourse very painful. How do I talk to my husband about this?'

30 June 2011

I had a hysterectomy at a very young age and now (in my late 40s) have very thin vaginal walls, which makes sexual intercourse very painful. I find it hard to talk to my husband about this.

Fortunately, sexual pleasure is not all about intercourse. Improving vaginal tone is something you should discuss with your doctor, who may have a remedy – possibly a hormonal cream. Don't be shy – you deserve to be helped.

There are many erotic possibilities that do not include intercourse, and will not cause you pain. You could make your sex life more sensual by trying different sounds (murmurs, mood-enhancing music, and even the fine art of erotic conversation), scents (candles, perfume and your own natural scent), tastes (try being creative with food and edible erotic items), as well as experimenting with different non-genital strokes and touches. There are many more erogenous zones in the body than the obvious!

If it appeals, work on improving your oral and manual skills to provide climactic pleasure for your husband (ask for feedback) and, if he doesn't know already, teach him what kind of non-penetrative pleasures bring you to orgasm. Provide details and guidance until he gets it right. At the moment, sex is not something you look forward to. It should not be a chore, so change that. And never put up with painful sex, not even to "please your husband" (he does not want to hurt you). Instead, begin to share your specific erotic desires with him and encourage him to do the same. You can have a fantastic sex life if you stop limiting yourselves by focusing on intercourse.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2011

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