Pain during intercourse is a common problem for women, but it’s rarely discussed. It’s difficult to define what exactly constitutes dyspareunia- the term generally refers to any form of painful intercourse. If you are experiencing pain with your partner during intercourse, don’t worry there are many different treatments for dyspareunia! The following article will give you an overview of this condition and how it can be treated.
What is Dyspareunia and What Are The Symptoms
Let’s start by looking at some basic definitions. Dyspareunia is defined as persistent or recurrent genital pain associated with sexual activity that does not subside within 30 minutes after the end of sexual activity and may interfere with desire or arousal. This includes vaginal penetration by a penis, fingers, or object.
Symptoms of Dyspareunia can include:
- Difficulty in penetration
- Pain during penetration
- Burning sensation during penetration
- Sharp pain at the opening to the vagina or deep within the pelvis
- Soreness in penis after sexual intercourse
- General pain in the pelvis or vagina
- Pain during orgasm
What are the causes of Dyspareunia
There are many different causes of dyspareunia. Many causes are due to physical conditions but some are psychological, as well. Some of the most common causes include:
- Vaginismus: This is a condition in which the muscles surrounding the vagina go into spasm, making intercourse painful or impossible. This can happen at the start of sex, or even when inserting a tampon.
- Infections: Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause inflammation and pain in the genital area. Other infections, such as urinary tract infections (UTIs), can also cause pain during intercourse. even something as simple as a yeast infection could be the cause of pain.
- Endometriosis: This is a condition in which tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus grows outside of the uterus. This can cause severe cramping and pain during intercourse.
- Pelvic inflammatory disease: This is a bacterial infection that spreads from the reproductive organs into the pelvic cavity. It can cause severe pain during intercourse from pressure on the area.
- Cancers: Cancers of the cervix, uterus, ovaries, bladder, colon, prostate, or rectum can also cause dyspareunia. In addition to pain during penetration, other symptoms can include vaginal bleeding or a mass in the pelvis.
- Childbirth: Injuries from an episiotomy or tearing of the perineum during childbirth can cause lasting pain. This pain is often felt during penetration. Having intercourse too soon after childbirth is another reason for pain.
- Lichen sclerosis: This can also cause pain during penetration. In this condition, the cells that produce the mucus lining the vagina begin to grow out of control. This leads to inflammation and sometimes scar tissue, which is very painful.
- Vulvar vestibulitis: This is an inflammation of the tissues around the opening of the vagina. It often leads to fibrosis (scar tissue) in this area, which can cause pain during sex.
- Chronic constipation: Chronic constipation can cause pressure on the bladder, which may lead to pain during intercourse.
- Psychological issues: Although less common, pain during intercourse can be related to psychological issues. If you are feeling anxious or stressed about having sex, the muscles in your pelvic floor may go into spasm which leads to pain. Depression can also cause feelings of sadness and hopelessness that prevent having a fulfilling sex life.
- Relationship problems: Although not directly linked to pain, relationship problems can contribute to low desire. Low libido is a common side effect of many antidepressant medications, which can also lead to pain during intercourse.
- Sexual abuse: Survivors of sexual abuse often feel a sense of detachment from their bodies. This can result in a fear of intimacy and pain during intercourse as a result.
How is Dyspareunia Diagnosed?
If you are experiencing pain during sex, it is important to see a doctor so that the cause can be identified and treated. There is no one test for dyspareunia, but your doctor will likely ask about your symptoms and do a physical exam. He or she may also order some tests, such as:
- Pelvic ultrasound: This test uses sound waves to create images of the inside of the body. It can help to identify causes of pain, such as cysts, tumors, or scar tissue.
- Pap smear: A Pap smear can help to determine if you have an infection or precancerous cells in the cervix.
- Colposcopy: This is a procedure in which a magnifying glass is used to closely examine the cervix and vagina.
- Endometrial biopsy: This is a procedure in which a sample of cells from inside the uterus is taken. This can help to diagnose endometriosis.
- Biopsy: Biopsies remove tissue samples, which are then examined under a microscope for signs of infection or other problems.
What Are The Treatments for Dyspareunia
There are many different treatments for dyspareunia, depending on the cause. Some common treatments include:
- Hormone therapy: If the pain is caused by estrogen deficiency, hormone therapy may help. This involves taking estrogen supplements either orally or through a patch or cream.
- Physical therapy: Physical therapy can help to improve muscle tone and flexibility in the pelvic area. This can help to reduce pain during sex.
- Medications: Medications such as ibuprofen or naproxen can help to relieve pain. In some cases, antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications may also be prescribed.
- Pelvic floor exercises: These exercises can help to strengthen the muscles in the pelvic area. In the case of vaginismus, kegels, vaginal dilators and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help relax muscles and stop spasms.
How Can You Prevent Dyspareunia From Happening In The First Place
There are a few things that you can do to help prevent dyspareunia from happening:
- Practice safe sex: This is important to help reduce the risk of infection.
- Use a lubricant: This can help to reduce friction and pain during sex.
- Warm-up before sex: This can help to relax the muscles and reduce pain.
- Take your time: Don’t rush into intercourse, especially if you are feeling anxious or stressed.
- Communicate with your partner: If you are experiencing pain, let your partner know and work together to find a solution.
Get Help With Painful Sex From Your OBGYN, Dr. Lodge in Cool Springs, Tennessee
If you are experiencing pain during sex, it is important to see a doctor so that the cause can be identified and treated. Make an appointment with your feminine health care physician as soon as possible to rule out health concerns.
Dr. Lodge and his staff see patients from all over the Greater Nashville Area including Brentwood, Franklin, Gallatin, and Hendersonville, TN. Request a consultation online today for a provider who truly wants the best for his patients.