The Private Hell of Painful Sex

For over a decade after losing my virginity at twenty, I suffered from painful sex (dyspareunia). Although my body would lie there, feeling like I was getting stabbed with a knife while being rubbed raw with sandpaper and having acid poured on my wounds, the rest of me would go running for the hills every time I saw a penis coming my way. I literally dissociated from my body during all those years of painful sex that led to the disintegration of my marriage.

My poor husband suffered too. The dude adored me, so he felt like a total schmuck because he knew how much sex hurt me (you couldnít miss the signs – the tears, the yelps, the grimaces, the avoidance of anything as innocent as a hug because it might lead to more pain.) At first, the diagnosis was vulvar vestibulitis, inflammation of the glands in the ďvestibuleĒ (opening) of the vagina. But finally, my body got to the point where it just flat out shut down. You couldnít get into my body if you wanted to because the muscles in the vagina had had enough. They just locked out anybody who wanted to come in – lovers, gynecologists, even tampons.

My vagina became a DO NOT ENTER zone.

This went on for over ten years, and the whole time, I was PISSED.

I mean everyone else seemed to be having rocking, sexy, hot, intimate, multi-orgasmic blissful sex.

But not me. I would have settled for feeling nothing. Nothing would have been bliss compared to the hell I experienced from my husbandís penis. I would have been willing to lie there, feeling nothing, so my husband could get off and we could have some sort of sex life. Nothing sex would have been awesome.† Great sex felt like more than I could ever hope to achieve.

At first, I didnít even know this was abnormal. I figured every woman just suffered through intercourse as some sort of female sacrifice to get a man. But then, as I went to medical school and became an OB/GYN physician, I learned that most women do not experience pain with sex, although 15 percent of women will have painful sex at some point in their life, and 20 million women are currently suffering from this health condition.

I Could Have More?

For a long time, I didnít even know I could ever have more. Then, even after I knew it wasnít normal, I continued to suffer in silence.

During this time, nobody knew except my husband. I had had other lovers, but I never shared with them how much I suffered when they thrusted into me. I trusted my husband with my private truth, and he begged me to get help, but I was too embarrassed to tell even my doctor, who always seemed too busy to really listen.

I Felt Like A Hypocrite

The worst part was that I was an OB/GYN physician. I spent all day promoting womenís health, teaching people about sexual health, and delivering babies so others could have great sex lives and healthy, happy vaginas. I felt like a f*cking hypocrite.

I remember, right after my husband and I finally got divorced (after I finally saw a doctor and she told me there was nothing she could do for me except cut out a piece of my vagina), I had just delivered the baby of a good friend. I remember thinking, ďThat will never be me. I will never find true love, have great sex, give birth to a baby, or feel sexual, feminine, and whole. I’m going to be an old maid delivering other women’s babies. I’ll never have that experience myself, and nobody will ever love me again.”† I felt horribly, desperately alone, like damaged goods.

Back On The Market – Yikes!

After my divorce, I was terrified of becoming intimate with another man. I enjoyed flirting and appreciated male attention, but as soon as it looked like things might evolve romantically, I freaked out. I was embarrassed and ashamed, and I felt damaged. Who ever heard of a gynecologist who hated sex and avoided it like the plague?

The pain of my failed marriage was especially acute, given the nature of my work. All day long, I helped women prepare to get pregnant, and I delivered babies into their waiting arms. Every time I saw a father tearing up over the birth of his little baby, I cried.

Then I hit my wall. I saw the downward spiral my life was taking, and I feared I would turn into one of those bitter, lonely, angry doctors who lash out at their patients, have no social life of their own, and numb themselves with too much food, alcohol, drugs – whatever.

I Was Ready To Heal

I decided I loved myself too much to let that happen, and I decided, once and for all, that I would do anything – anything – to heal myself.

As a gynecologist, I knew what I had to do. I had all the head knowledge to handle the problem, but I knew there was no quick fix, no pill to swallow, no surgery to cure the pain, no magic wand I could wave to make things different.

I knew I would have to do the work. But I also knew my condition was 100 percent curable, if I was brave enough to do whatever it would take.

I decided I was worth it. So I did the work. And when I fell in love a few months later, I had pain-free, pleasurable, orgasmic sex for the first time ever. And Iíve been teaching women who suffer from sexual pain disorders how to do that work ever since.

20 Million Women Are Like I Was

Are you one of the 20 million women who suffer from painful intercourse (dyspareunia)? Does sex hurt – either all the time or some of the time? Are you experiencing your own private hell, either because youíve told nobody or youíve seen multiple doctors, only to be told to suck it up? Or are you a guy who loves a woman like this?

I know how this nightmare feels. If youíre the one in pain, I know how you tense up every time you see that penis coming your way. I know how much you want to please the partner you love, but how conflicted you feel because it hurts like hell, and youíd honestly rather never have intercourse again if this is how itís always going to be. I know the guilt, the shame, the embarrassment you feel. I know you even wonder crazy things like ďShould I just encourage my partner to have sex with someone else so I donít have to feel guilty any more?Ē

It Sucks For Guys Too

And if youíre the guy who loves a woman like this, I know how awful this is for you. I know you feel guilty for hurting the woman you love. I know you wonder whether you should just give up trying and appreciate the good things in the relationship. I also know you think about ending the relationship because good sex is important to you, and youíre not sure you can spend the rest of your life living without it or having to torture the woman you love.

I feel you. And Iím here for you both.

Let Me Help Diagnose Your Problem

Since I put my white coat back on and opened up my consulting practice to women outside the California area, Iíve been swamped with people who read my personal story about†painful sex in Redbook magazine, people who suddenly felt like there was a doctor who gets it, someone who cares, someone who has been completely cured by doing what it takes, and someone who knows intimately the tools to help others overcome this.

So Iíve created a free diagnostic tool†to help anyone who suffers from†pain with sex, so I can help you get out of this private hell.

Let me help you stop pain with sex, love. Come out of your private hell. Letís put this nightmare behind you.

Diagnose why sex hurts here.

Let me leave you with some hope.

Almost every woman with painful sex who Iíve worked with has been completely cured from her sexual pain. You could be one of those women. You can feel sexy again, start wanting sex again, feel feminine again, and mend the fractures in your relationship that have evolved because of this problem. You can, not only tolerate sex, you can LOVE sex and enjoy orgasms and feel whole again.

I know you can, because Iíve done it myself and Iíve helped thousands of women do the same.

So donít give up, love.†I believe in you.

Committing to helping relieve your suffering,


Lissa Rankin, MD: Founder of†,†Pink Medicine Revolutionary,†motivational speaker, and author of†Whatís Up Down There? Questions Youíd Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend and Encaustic Art: The Complete Guide To Creating Fine Art With Wax.

Learn more about†Lissa Rankin here.



Lika S.
Lika S.4 years ago

I can't imagine having to suffer pain like this during a session of what is supposed to be exhilarating, especially with that special someone in your life.

Glad to hear that it has a happy ending, and that there is hope for other women who are in the same predicament.

So, what was the diagnosis and the treatment for this sort of thing? Can you post information here so that Care2 readers, going through the same thing can go to their physicians to get help, if needed?

Anyway, I'm fortunate to be on the opposite end. I just can't get enough.

Nagakrishnaraju P.
Past Member 4 years ago

Love should be expressed and should gratify your physical and emotional desires. A few factors that can affect your sexual intimacy are everyday tensions, pressures, health, fidelity issues etc. Here are tips to keep the romance alive.

Megan K.
Megan K.4 years ago

this shouldn't be up here if it is just advertising. If this article actually told how it was cured maybe it would be even halfway readable.

Mona W.
Mona Wolters4 years ago

My problem is thinning of my vagina and lack of lubrication inside the vagina. I have moisture from the clitoris. Since menopause and losing estrogen I actually bleed a little and have great pain. The way we have sex is he brings me to orgasm and I give him oral or manual sex to bring him to orgasm. Has anyone had sexual problems since menopause?
No lubricates relieve the extreme dryness so intercourse is too painful and difficult for him. Please tell me where to get help.

Annemarie W.
Annemarie L.4 years ago

eh, not so sure about this article

Michelle L.
Michelle L.4 years ago

Vulvodynia is the most frequent cause of painful intercourse, a recent study found that 25% of women had experienced vulvodynia at some point in their lives. The National Vulvodynia Association is an organization who offers support to women with this condition, including help with a physician referral. For more information go to their website:

Mary L.
Mary L.4 years ago

I whole heartedly agree with the protests of the posters I've seen. This sounds like a 3AM infomercial for a product of dubious results.

Richard K.
Richard K.4 years ago

This is nothing more than an infomercial! Tells me nothing about how to solve the problem. So, tell us Dearie - how did you "do the work'?

Doesn't Care2 screen this stuff?

Agata M.
Agata Marek4 years ago

poor You :(

Helle H.
Helle H.4 years ago

Sad story, good you learned to have good sex, but this article is just one long advertising. Leaves you with a bad feeling. I don't have any problems but if I had I would have felt cheated.