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by Michelle Smith
The Birth Ease Podcast

074 Help for Painful Sex


In this episode of Michelle's series on pelvic health Lindsey Kaupp, Occupational Therapist explains what painful sex is, what can be done to alleviate or change that, and what is normal versus common and what that difference really is. Together they stress why creating psychological safety is the very first step of addressing painful sex. Lindsey shares red flags to look for that alert someone when to seek out the help of a pelvic floor therapist.

"So my very first step, it doesn't matter what client I'm working with, any of the conditions or if it is just a single or a couple of isolated incidents of painful sex, we talk about psychological safety. Until we have psychological safety, we do not have the opportunity to go further. Because our brain is going to still perceive a threat."—Lindsey Kaupp

Medical Terms:

Dyspareunia is the term for recurring pain in the genital area or within the pelvis during sexual intercourse. The pain can be sharp or intense. It can occur before, during, or after sexual intercourse.

Endometriosis is an often painful disorder in which tissue similar to the tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus — the endometrium — grows outside the uterus. Endometriosis most commonly involves the ovaries, fallopian tubes and the tissue lining the pelvis.

Adenomyosis is a condition in which endometrial tissue exists within and grows into the uterine wall. It occurs most often late in the childbearing years and typically disappears after menopause. Sometimes, adenomyosis may cause heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding, severe cramping, pain during intercourse, or blood clots that pass during a period.

Vulvodynia is chronic, unexplained pain in the area around the opening of the vagina. It can be so uncomfortable that some activities can feel unbearable, such as sitting for long periods of time or having sex.

Vestibulodynia refers to pain in the entrance of the vagina, known as the vestibule. This is the area where the outside portion of a woman's genitals (the vulva) meets the internal portion (the vagina). The vestibule contains glands that provide vaginal lubrication during sexual arousal. For a woman with generalized vestibulodynia, the pain is constant. A woman with provoked vestibulodynia (PVD) has pain when the area is touched. This may occur when she inserts a tampon, has a pelvic exam with her gynecologist, or engages in sexual activity. Pain intensity and type can vary from woman to woman. The area may be sore or tender when touched. There might be a sharp or burning pain. Some women are able to have intercourse. For others, the pain is too severe.

Vaginismus is a condition involving a muscle spasm in the pelvic floor muscles. It can make it painful, difficult, or impossible to have sexual intercourse, to undergo a gynecological exam, and to insert a tampon.

Interstitial cystitis is a chronic condition causing bladder pressure, bladder pain, and sometimes pelvic pain. The pain ranges from mild discomfort to severe pain. The condition is a part of a spectrum of diseases known as painful bladder syndrome.




"Better Sex through Mindfulness" by Lori Brotto

"Come as You Are" by Emily Nagoski, PhD



Olive & Bee

Good Clean Love


About Lindsey Kaupp:

Lindsey Kaupp is a registered occupational therapist residing in Alberta, Canada. As an Occupational Therapist, she can address the vast majority of the factors that impact a person's pelvic health and daily life, such as physical function, psychological factors, and environmental influences, which enables a truly holistic and individual approach.

Lindsey's journey in women's health has come about in a non-conventional way, through her lived experience with pelvic health dysfunction, and her unexpected career in mental health. She is an anatomy and movement geek at heart, so employment in mental health was never a goal of hers, until it happened. Her years working in mental health has been the most rewarding time of her career thus far and has prepared her to work with women from all walks of life, with all different issues and solutions.

​E-Motion Therapy was created out of her recognition of a gap, not only regarding women's health services in rural Alberta, but within women's health services themselves. As an occupational therapist, she can address the vast majority of the factors that impact a woman's pelvic health and daily life, such as physical function, psychological factors and environmental influences, which enables a truly holistic and individual approach. Lindsey is comfortable asking the hard questions around topics that we are working hard to de-stigmatize such as sexual function or maternal mental health.

Connect with Lindsey Kaupp:

Website: https://e-motiontherapy.com/

Email: lindsey@e-motiontherapy.com

Facebook: E-Motion Therapy

Instagram: @motherfunction.ca, @emotiontherapy

Connect with Michelle Smith:

Website: BirthEaseServices.com

Facebook: Birth Ease, The Birth Ease Podcast, Birth Ease Baby Loss Support

Instagram: @birtheasemichellesmith, @birtheaselossssupport

YouTube: Birth Ease

LinkedIn: Birth Ease Michelle Smith

Show: Birth Ease


Episode 74

by Michelle Smith