Sex is painfulQ: I am 42 and always had a good sex life before the birth of my second child, when I had a bad tear that had to be repaired. Since then, sex I very painful and usually impossible. This is really affecting my relationship with my husband. What can I do?

Andrea, Kent

A: After reading your longer letter I am sure that you have a condition called Vaginismus, where there is an involuntary (i.e. not under your control) tensing of the muscles around the vagina that causes pain when sex is attempted.

This is quite common and can occur after a difficult vaginal examination or a traumatic sexual experience, and also in women who have has a painful condition such as a bad tear after childbirth.

Pain and the fear of pain causes the muscles to tense up, which then makes any attempt at intercourse more painful and so this sets up a distressing cycle. This can be treated – sometimes just by talking to you GP and ruling out any other cause for the pain, but sometimes longer-term counselling is needed.

If you feel you cannot see or doctor, please contact your local family planning clinic, which should have trained counsellors to help you.