Expert Answers Factual Answers to Your Sexual Health Questions

anonymous on September 9, 2011

Sometimes I get a sudden pain in my clitoris...why?

From time to time, I get a sudden pain in my clitoris. I don’t know what this is but I’m not able to have pleasurable sex. Do you have any advice?

answered by Annette Fuglsang Owens, MD, PhD on September 9, 2011

Thanks for trusting us with your sensitive question. Actually, many women suffer from uncomfortable sex…from dryness to overall pain. So you’re not alone.

That said, I would encourage you to visit your regular doctor or gynecologist to talk about the occasional, sudden pain in your clitoris. To start the conversation, here are some thoughts for your consideration:

You might have a condition doctors call localized vulvodynia...that means you have pain somewhere specific ⎼ like your clitoris ⎼ and that you could be experiencing pain with touch and pressure or sometimes without any stimulation at all.

Researchers still aren’t sure what causes women to experience this kind of pain, but we do know that some women can decrease the pain they feel with some home remedies...for example, wear cotton underwear, wash your vulva daily with warm water (no soaps or perfumes), and pat dry after showering or bathing. Some women also report improvement after using lubrication during intercourse.

It’s also possible you have a genetic condition...some women experience clitoral pain if the outside of the clitoris (the hood) is too tight. This is a condition called phimosis. There’s more research on this condition in men...but a breakthrough 2002 study in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy found that 22% of women suffering some kind of sexual health problem had clitoral phimosis.

If this is the case for you, when you’re aroused, the inside of your clitoris might not be able to fully extend because the hood won’t expand...and this might cause you pain.

There are other possibilities, too...upon a full visual examination and conversation, your doctor will be able to identify the root cause of your symptoms, as well as prescribe any necessary treatment. Whether it’s a topical cream that can reduce pain locally, or something else.

Thanks again for writing, and I hope your discomfort is soon resolved.

Related info:

Annette Fuglsang Owens, MD, PhD

Dr. Owens is an AASECT-certified sexuality counselor. Her areas of expertise include the medical aspects of human sexuality and sexual problems, as well as the impact of STDs ⎼ and other diseases, illnesses and disabilities ⎼ on sexuality. Dr. Owens was educated at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

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