Trading Spaces' Paige Davis is Breaking the Stigma of Vaginal Pain During Sex: 'There Is Help'

Paige Davis, 52, has suffered from vaginal pain for 30 years and only received a diagnosis of pudendal neuralgia last year — thanks to a female pelvic pain specialist

Paige Davis is opening up about what she used to consider a shameful secret: She has experienced pain during sex for 30 years.

"When I have intercourse, I feel like the ring of my vagina is on fire," the host of Trading Spaces tells PEOPLE. "It feels like somebody went in and put a thousand paper cuts around my opening."

Davis says she has been dealing with the condition since the first time she had sex. "It never felt good at all," she says, adding that she saw many different gynecologists to find out what was "wrong" with her.

Davis, 52, is one of 30% of women who suffer from pelvic pain during sex. She finally received her diagnosis of pudendal neuralgia, which affects 1% of people, from Dr. Meera Kirpekar, an anesthesiologist who runs a pain medicine practice specializing in pelvic pain at NYU Langone Health.

"Paige is an example of someone who sought treatment but for a range of reasons was turned away," says Dr. Kirpekar. "She's proof as to why women must keep advocating to be heard and legitimized in their care."

Davis was incredibly relieved to connect with Dr. Kirpekar, who made her realize she is not alone. "She told me she had many patients experience the exact pain and challenges I was describing," Davis says. "Not only do they share my physical pain but have undoubtedly experienced some of the same emotional pain — feeling broken, or feeling like you have to perform or no one will want you."

She says that women are brought up not to talk about their sexual dysfunction. "Who wants to tell a first date, 'Oh by the way, when we have sex, I'm going to be in massive pain. But that's cool, right?' " she says jokingly.

Paige-Davis headshot
Nathan Johnson

In fact, she had been hiding it from her husband, actor Patrick Page, for 26 years.

"When we were first married he thought that I loved sex. Guess what? I don't — it really hurts," Davis says. Now that the couple is "dealing with it head-on," they find themselves at an "existential crossroads."

But Davis says she was simply too embarrassed to speak up, and she had gotten used to pretending. "You just feel broken, or like you're not normal," she says. "We are taught to be amazing at sex, that you're supposed to please your partner. I took that to heart and just faked it."

While she had been seeking answers from the medical community for 30 years, it was finding a female pain specialist that made all the difference.

"I was always blown off by other doctors," she recalls. "They told me to just relax." She says she felt dismissed and patronized, but noted that the doctors probably weren't doing it on purpose.

It's another reason she's speaking out: "There's just not enough studies out there. People need to start talking about it."

Davis finally feels her condition is being better managed, thanks to switching to an anti-inflammatory diet and adding pelvic floor physical therapy as well as steroid injections.

"Sex should not hurt," she says, adding that there are many different types of vaginal pain that can afflict women. "Don't second guess yourself. If there's pain it means there is something wrong."

She also has a message for young women in particular: "They don't have to go into a performative mode to ignore this problem. I don't want it to be this secret, shameful thing that like, your vajayjay is broken, so you're not as good of a woman."

"And I want women who are older like me to not give up. There is hope and you can feel better if you find the right specialist. You're not crazy, it's not in your head, it's not your fault. It can get better."

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