Intercourse pain, or dyspareunia, can cause problems in a couple's sexual relationship. In addition to the physically painful sex, there is also the possibility of negative emotional effects. So the problem should be addressed as soon as it arises.
In many cases, a woman can experience painful sex if there is not sufficient vaginal lubrication. When this occurs, the pain can be resolved if the female becomes more relaxed, if the amount of foreplay is increased, or if the couple uses a sexual lubricant.
Physical causes of painful intercourse differ, depending on whether the pain occurs at entry or with deep thrusting. Emotional factors can be associated with many types of painful intercourse. In some cases, a woman can experience painful sex if one of the following conditions is present:
Vaginismus. This is a common condition. It involves an involuntary spasm in the vaginal muscles, mainly caused by fear of being hurt.
Vaginal infections. These conditions are common and include yeast infections.
Problems with the cervix (opening to the uterus). In this case, the penis can reach the cervix at maximum penetration. So problems with the cervix (such as infections) can cause pain during deep penetration.
Problems with the uterus. These problems may include fibroids that can cause deep intercourse pain.
Endometriosis. This is a condition in which the tissue that lines the uterus grows outside the uterus.
Problems with the ovaries. Problems might include cysts on the ovaries.
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). With PID, the tissues deep inside become badly inflamed and the pressure of intercourse causes deep pain.
Ectopic pregnancy. This is a pregnancy in which a fertilized egg develops outside the uterus.
Menopause. With menopause, the vaginal lining can lose its normal moisture and become dry.
Intercourse too soon after surgery or childbirth.
Sexually transmitted diseases. These may include genital warts, herpes sores, or other STDs.
Injury to the vulva or vagina. These injuries may include a tear from childbirth or from a cut (episiotomy) made in the area of skin between the vagina and anus during labor.
If you get pain during or after sex, your body may be trying to tell you something is wrong, so don't ignore it. See your GP or go to a sexual health (genitourinary medicine or GUM) clinic.
If you find talking about it embarrassing, remember that doctors are used to dealing with problems like this.
Pain during sex can affect both men and women.
These Q&A’s are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.