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Painful Sex (Dyspareunia)
Fertility Gynaecology 

Painful sexual intercourse is referred to as dyspareunia. It is defined as persistent or intermittent genital pain that happens just before, during or after sexual intercourse. 

 

Painful sexual intercourse can occur for causes that range from structural problems to psychological issues. Many women have painful sexual intercourse at some point in their lives. Treatments are directed towards the cause, and it can help eliminate or reduce this common problem in females. 

 

If you have pain during intercourse, you may feel:

  • Pain with penetration
  • Pain with inserting a tampon
  • Deep pain throughout thrusting
  • Burning or aching pain
  • Throbbing pain that lasts hours after intercourse

 

Causes of painful sex:

Physical causes of painful sex vary, depending on whether the pain occurs at entry or with deep thrusting. Emotional factors might be linked with different types of painful sexual intercourse.

 

Pain during penetration:

Pain during penetration might be correlated with a range of factors, including:

  • Lack of lubrication. This is often the result of less foreplay. A drop in estrogen levels following menopause, childbirth or during breastfeeding can be a cause of less lubrication.
  • Certain medications are known to influence sexual desire or arousal, which can reduce lubrication and make sex uncomfortable. 
  • Injury or irritation. This includes injury or trauma from an accident, pelvic surgery or a cut made during childbirth (episiotomy).
  • Inflammation, infection or any other skin disorder. An infection in your genital area or urinary tract can result in painful intercourse. Skin problems in the genital area can also be the cause of the problem.
  • Vaginismus. These are involuntary spasms of the muscles of the vaginal wall that can make penetration painful during sex.
  • Congenital abnormality. A problem present from birth, such as the absence of a healthy vagina (vaginal agenesis) or development of a membrane that obstructs the vaginal opening (imperforate hymen), could cause painful sex or dyspareunia.

 

Deep pain

Deep pain usually transpires with deep penetration. It can be more severe in certain positions. Causes may include:

  • Specific illnesses and conditions. The list includes endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, uterine prolapse, uterine fibroids, irritable bowel syndrome, cystitis, pelvic floor dysfunction and ovarian cysts.
  • Medical or surgical treatments. Scarring from pelvic surgery that includes hysterectomy can cause painful sex. Radiation and chemotherapy can also cause changes that make sex painful.

 

Emotional factors

Emotions are also deeply intertwined with sexual activity, so they play a role in sexual pain. These include:

  • Psychological issues. Depression, anxiety, fear of intimacy or relationship problems can add to a low level of arousal and resulting discomfort or pain.
  • Stress. Pelvic floor muscles tend to tighten in response to stress in life. This can contribute to pain during sex.

 

You can make an appointment with Dr Kenny on 07 3188 5000.

This article is written to be informative and does not substitute seeking a professional consultation from a medical professional.

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