Painful intercourse

  • Does anyone experience incredibly painful intercourse (so doesn’t have it)? I had the most horrendous smear test too. Its yet another thing which has caused me problems post BC. Thank you x 

Hi, I must admit that I’ve not tried it yet. Have said to hubby that we need to think about it, but not quite yet! But I guess that we are put it into a rapid menopause so vaginal atrophy may be an issue? Lubrication not helping? I am kind of banking on KY jelly… But I also feel that I’ve read or heard somewhere that we can safely use the oestrogen pessaries - but they have to be prescribed. I feel quite lucky that I had a smear last year before all this started. I watched the Davina Macoll programme about the menopause on Ch4 last week, which talked a bit about sex. Have you spoken with a BCN? Or your GP? I’m definitely putting it off and have little desire, which is a shame as I could do with some fun…

Hope you get some more useful advice elsewhere @LittleGorton  

Hi Little Gorton, I thought it was just me…all the leaflets and conversations with GP and BCN talk about “dryness” and loss of elasticity.  There was little mention of atrophy. They mention “pain” and one guide I read tonight suggested a painkiller before sex, and lots of lube.  The suggestion that sex counselling will help feels almost ignoring the biological reason for this. 

So we have tried lube and I have been using hyalofemme and it feels like I am so raw and sex is incredibly painful, so painful that last time we tried we didn’t try again for a month. I have continued with hyalofemme. 

I have a conversation with the menopause clinic next week.  It is the ongoing challenge of tamoxifen, constipation, painful and itchy labia and vagina…and the GP still won’t prescribe the hyalofemme despite this being on my medication list.  I have worked so hard on recovery, returning to work, trying to keep my child on track with year 10, exercising most days, eating healthier…but everyday, I itch as if I have thrush and I keep being fobbed off. I asked about the low estrogen cream but so far that is ignored by the GP and the BCN at my check up and didn’t respond to my question.

I wouldn’t normally talk about this at all, but losing intimacy after a year of sleeping apart due to treatment…it is just heartbreaking. 

I really hope next week’s appointment helps.  I am so tired of this discomfort.

Hello LittleGorton,

sorry to hear you are having problems. Have a look on

Look in the menu for Resources, then the Leaflet Menopause and Cancer. read on down, Page 9 is relevant  

You can safely use Oestrogen pessaries (Vagifem)  even if you have had hormone receptive BR Cancer. The oestrogen only acts locally. The leaflet which is inside the packaging is out of date and says not to be used for Br Ca patients but it is completely safe to use. But your GP may/will be reluctant to prescribe because warnings flash up on their screen for drugs. You may need to fight for this drug. Good luck  

Re lubricants the Brand ‘Yes’ is supposed to be brilliant stuff according to a Tamoxifen buddy. Their website is     There are a couple of options.  All organic and non-irritant. 

if you are on Instagram, Helen Addis @thetittygritty  talks to Breast Surgeon and Cancer advocate Liz O’Riordan @oriordanliz They have recorded the most amazing Live chat ( Aug31 2020) about Sex, Libido and all things cancer related . Essential watch. She talks about many options to help us. Highly recommend.

I don’t have the dryness problems but need to wee often  it’s a real nuisance and I’m trying the pessaries to help with this. 

Hope this helps x 

Yes. Completely given up now as it is so incredibly painful after a pretty active sex life previously. I am on arimidex which I believe is the main cause 

Hi @LittleGorton  

I’ve been struggling with this problem since starting zoledex and letrozole in 2019. I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve been intimate with my husband and I feel awful but it’s just so painful so we don’t even try any more! Also had 2 very painful smears recently. I’m doing the Moving Forward course this month so hoping that will give some tips x 

I’m not sure whether this thread is still active but thought I’d share my experience and experimentations.  BC diagnosis at 45, bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction (DIEP). I was fine on Tamoxifen for about a year and then I started getting the discharge, the itch, the splitting of the skin around the labia and the very, VERY painful intercourse with vaginal splitting.  Also anal splitting when I went to the toilet.  I started by changing the brand of Tamoxifen ruling out that it could be a base ingredient I could be reacting too.  No difference.  What seems to have worked for me (as I’ve found that I’m almost back to normal for about 3 months now) was a combination of the following:

  • Vitamin D supplements daily

  • Drinking 2-3 litres of water a day

  • Not wearing underwear when I could get away with it (ie: at home), and avoiding restrictive clothing if there was a chance I would get hot, so no ‘active wear’ leggings.  Instead I wear loose shorts if I’m exercising.  No stockings.

  • Applying a barrier ointment to the labia, perineum and anus after every wee and poo (at first) and every shower.  I now only apply after a shower at night before bed.  My weapon of choice was Lucas Paw Paw ointment.

  • And the final one was masturbation. At least every couple of days.  Not just clitoral, but using a smooth (nothing ribbed or textured), water lubricated vibrator vaginally.  This is something you may or may want to include your partner in or not, depends on your relationship.  I found sometimes I did, sometimes I didn’t. 

When I did it gave my husband and I the intimate reconnection that we had been lacking but he also understands that sometimes, although it results in orgasms which are fun, I just want to get it done or he just may not be in the mood himself.  As a result of doing this we are now able to have intercourse without me suffering intense pain and splitting.  Maybe not quite as often as we did, but combined with mutual masturbation, oral etc, we’re back in the game!! :slightly_smiling_face:

Whether it’s the intense blood flow to the area or forcing the muscles in my vagina to contract around the resistance of the vibrator because of orgasm, when I started doing this, the vaginal entrance splits I had been experiencing healed and stopped occurring.  My labia didn’t split, and the itching subsided to almost nothing.  I still have to be vigilant regarding the barrier cream, what I wear, drinking water etc but only recently I had a bit of a cry because I was so relieved the feel marginally ‘normal’ again and to reconnect with my husband.  Be aware, this is not a quick fix.  I was doing this for about 2 months before I started to notice a difference.  So all up it’s been 5 months since beginning this little regime.

So that’s what has worked for me thus far.  I hope it can help someone else out there.  Bx

YES!!  Unbearable. Cannot have intercourse at all anymore.