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Dyspareunia (Painful Intercorse)

Getting Intimate

Though it is certainly a subject that can be embarrassing to discuss, dyspareunia is actually experienced by most women at some point during their lives. More commonly known as painful intercourse, dyspareunia can be the result of a number of things including both physical and psychological issues. Some women experience pain during sex, though it is not uncommon to suffer before and after sex, as well. Treatment for dyspareunia will naturally depend on identifying the actual cause of the pain, though many women are too uncomfortable to admit that sex is painful for them and will, unfortunately, suffer their pain unnecessarily.

When Love Hurts

Fortunately, dyspareunia isn’t always a long-term issue. Some cases of painful intercourse are caused by a lack of desire to have sex or a lack of sexual arousal. Other cases can be symptomatic of an underlying health condition.

If pain is experienced during initial penetration, it is most often caused by physical factors including:
• Lack of lubrication, which can be the result of insufficient foreplay, a drop in estrogen levels, or even the use of certain medications
• Injury or trauma to the genitals from an accident or surgery
• Infection or skin conditions
• Involuntary spasms of the vaginal wall called vaginismus
• Birth defects in the vaginal area

Pain during deep penetration is sometimes related to illnesses and medical conditions including endometriosis, fibroid uterus, pelvic inflammatory disease, uterine prolapse, and ovarian cysts. This deep pain can also be caused by scarring after some type of pelvic surgery, and many women experience dyspareunia after being given radiation or chemotherapy to treat cancer.

More Than Feelings

Because sex is so affected by emotions, emotional and psychological issues including stress, anxiety, depression, fear of intimacy, distorted self-image, and even a history of sexual abuse can also cause painful intercourse.

To properly diagnose dyspareunia, a urogynecologist or other women’s healthcare specialist will take a full medical history and conduct a female pelvic exam. Depending on the cause, treatments may include medication, physical therapy exercises such as Kegels exercise, and psychological therapy or counseling. Lifestyle adjustments may also eliminate pain during intercourse, as well; and simple changes to sexual positions, increased communication, lengthened foreplay, and the use of lubricants may prove effective.

Don’t let your sex life suffer! Call the caring team of experts at Coyle Institute today!