Pain during sex, or dyspareunia, is persistent or recurring pain just before, during, or after intercourse. Painful intercourse may be felt externally on the vulva or internally in the vagina, uterus, or pelvis. Factors such as underlying illnesses or infections can cause painful sex. This is usually treated by identifying the underlying cause of the pain.
This is a common condition that can have negative emotional and psychological consequences. In addition to physical pain, couples may suffer the loss of intimacy or experience relationship strain.
Pain during sex is more common in women. It can affect both men (male dyspareunia) and women (female dyspareunia) of all ages. Pain is often associated with physical factors or diseases, but it can also be psychological.
Pain during sex is one of the most common gynecological problems. It affects 10% to 20% of women in Europe at some point in their lives.
The location of the pain can help determine the type of dyspareunia.
She may be:
- Penetrating pain (intraorbital or superficial dyspareunia). This pain is felt at the entrance to the vagina during initial penetration.
- Deep pain. This type of pain occurs with deep penetration and may be exacerbated by certain sexual positions. This pain is felt in the cervix or lower abdomen.
An illness or previous surgery usually causes deeper sexual pain.
Pain during intercourse can also be characterized as primary, secondary, complete, or situational:
In some cases, painful intercourse is present in one of the following conditions:
- vaginal atrophy. The vaginal mucosa can lose its normal moisture and thickness and become dry, thin, and inflamed. It can be caused by medications, menopause, or other hormonal changes.
- Vaginismus. Fear of injury or previous injury causes spasms of the vaginal muscles.
- vaginal infections. These conditions are common and include yeast infections.
- Ovarian cysts.
- Inflammatory disease of the pelvic organs. Tissue inflammation and pressure during intercourse cause deep pain.
- Ectopic pregnancy .
- Too early intercourse after surgery or childbirth.
- Sexually transmitted infections. It can be genital warts, herpes, or other sexually transmitted diseases.
- Injury to the vulva or vagina. These injuries may include a tear during childbirth or an incision (episiotomy) in the perineum (the area of skin between the vagina and anus) made during childbirth.
- Skin diseases affect the genitals.
- Psychological problems. Anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem can interfere with sexual arousal.