What Is Dyspareunia?

More Women Than Men Are Affected With Painful Intercourse

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Painful intercourse, also known as dyspareunia (dis-puh-ROO-nee-uh) in the medical community, is persistent or recurrent genital pain that occurs before, during and after sexual intercourse. Both physical factors and psychological conditions contribute to this condition. More women than men are affected by dyspareunia.

Painful intercourse is mostly felt in the vulva area or within the vagina. The perineum, lower back, pelvic region, uterus, or bladder are also common sites of pain.

If you are experiencing frequent or severe pain during sexual intercourse, you should see your doctor to rule out other conditions that may be causing you pain.

Causes of Painful Intercourse

Pain during intercourse may be the result of many different factors, including:

Sexual pain may also be the result of gynecologic disorders including pelvic inflammatory disease, ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids, and endometriosis. Some women may experience painful intercourse after the birth of a child.

Diagnosing Dyspareunia and Painful Intercourse

Your doctor will take a complete medical and sexual history and perform a physical pelvic examination. You will be asked about any medications you may be taking.

In order to confirm your condition diagnostic tests, such as a pelvic ultrasound, may be performed.

Before seeing your doctor, make note of the symptoms you experience, including when, where, and how often. This information can be helpful in diagnosis.

Lifestyle Methods to Reduce Painful Intercourse

If you have an infection or a medical condition that results in your pain, it is important to treat it so that it may resolve your problem.

 After meeting with your doctor, you may want to use some methods to reduce or relieve pain during intercourse. Of course, the best treatments for dyspareunia focus on treating the underlying cause. Some of the most common treatments for painful intercourse include:

  • Using a water-soluble or silicone-based lubricant. Do not use petroleum jelly, baby oil, or mineral oil with condoms because they can cause the condom to break.
  • Set aside time for sexual intercourse.
  • Communicate with your sexual partner as to when you are experiencing pain
  • Try non-penetrating sexual activities
  • Before participating in sexual intercourse, take a warm bath, empty your bladder, or take an over-the-counter pain reliever.
  • After sexual intercourse, apply a ice or frozen gel pack, wrapped in a towel to your vulva.

Counseling or sex therapy may help improve the communication between you and your partner and help restore sexual intimacy. Physical therapy that teaches you relaxation techniques may help to decrease the pain you experience with sexual intercourse.



Mayo Clinic

American Family Physician

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

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