Are you suffering from painful intercourse? If so, you are not alone. Female sexual pain is rarely discussed in the media, at the coffee shop or even in the doctor’s office but it is a real problem for many women and some men.
Dyspareunia (from Greek meaning “badly mated”) is painful sexual intercourse, due to medical or psychological causes. The symptom is reported almost exclusively by women, although the problem can also occur in men. The causes are often reversible, even when long-standing.
Intercourse pain, or Dyspareunia, can cause problems in a couple’s sexual relationship. In addition to the physically pain, there is also the possibility of negative emotional effects where, If you experience pain during sex, it’s almost certain to be distressing for you.
This distress may well make you tighten up and this tightening up will very likely make the pain worse next time. Who loves going back again and again for pains?
So the problem should be addressed as soon as it becomes evident.
What causes it?
There are dozens of possible causes for this type of pain, fortunately, many of them aren’t too serious, but a few are.
Ideally, the assessment should be done by a doctor who is skilled in the technique of vaginal examination. One of the first things to be established is: is the pain deep inside you? Or is it near the outside?
This may not be easy to say as sometimes a pain is both superficial (near the outside) and deep. Deciding which it is can help sort out what’s wrong.
But 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.
In some cases, a woman can experience painful intercourse if one of the following conditions is present:
• Vaginismus. This is a common condition in which there is a spasm in the vaginal muscles, mainly caused by the fear of being hurt. Vaginismus arouses strong emotions, and women who have it are often very angry with their partners, doctors and themselves. But the condition is no one’s fault.
Common causes include:
• A restrictive upbringing, in which the woman was brought up to view sex as nasty or dirty.
• An upbringing in which the woman was given the idea that the vagina is very narrow and so sex must be very painful.
• A history of rape or childhood sexual abuse. Experiences like these understandably make women fearful of sex and of being hurt.
• A medical history of painful vaginal infections.
• Unease with the partner – perhaps at an unconscious level.
It is a common misconception that women with vaginismus dislike sex altogether. In fact, many women with this condition enjoy closeness with their partners.
Many get great pleasure from love play and some are able to reach orgasm in this way. But the enjoyment ceases when penetration is attempted or suggested.
What are the other causes of deep pain during sex?
• 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..
• Well-endowed partner: Some women complain that their partner’s penis is too big. In fact, when a woman is aroused and relaxed, the vagina extends by several inches – so any female should be able to accommodate any male..
• Endometriosis: A condition in which the endometrium (tissue lining the uterus) grows outside the uterus.
• Problems with the ovaries: Such problems might include cysts on the ovaries.
• Pelvic inflammatory disease: The tissues deep inside become badly inflamed and the pressure of intercourse causes deep pain.
• Ectopic pregnancy: A pregnancy in which a fertilised egg develops outside of the uterus.
• 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) in the perenium (area of skin between the vagina and the anus) that is made during labor.
Does intercourse pain affect men?
Sometimes men experience pain during intercourse. Common causes are skin disorders on the penis such as eczema or psoriasis.
It can be that the woman’s vagina is too tight for her partner. A good sex lubricant can help here.
Occasional causes of male pain include:
• thrush – in which case the female partner will probably have thrush too
• a forgotten stitch left in the woman’s vagina after childbirth
• an IUD thread or a displaced IUD in the vagina
• Peyronie’s disease – a male disorder that causes bending of the penis.
How Can It Be Treated?
Some treatments for painful sex in women do not require medical intervention. For example, in the case of painful sex after pregnancy, wait at least six weeks after childbirth before attempting intercourse. Make sure to practice gentleness and patience. In cases in which there is vaginal dryness or a lack of lubrication, try water-based lubricants.
Some treatments for female sexual pain do require a doctor’s care. If vaginal dryness is due to menopause, ask a health care professional about estrogen creams or other prescription medications. Other causes of painful intercourse also may require prescription drugs.
For cases of sexual pain in which there is no underlying medical cause, sexual therapy might be helpful. Some individuals may need to resolve issues such as guilt, inner conflicts regarding sex, or feelings regarding a past abuse.
Call a doctor if there are symptoms such as bleeding, genital lesions, irregular periods, vaginal discharge, or involuntary vaginal muscle contractions and ask for a referral to a certified sex counselor if there are other concerns that need to be addressed.
Summing up Whether you’re female or male, you shouldn’t disregard pain occurring during intercourse. If it happens more than once, it’s time to see an experienced doctor. Very often, the problem is curable.
Avoid ongoing sexual pain and discomfort that could be destructive to your relationship and to a woman’s sense of wholeness.
Seeking help for sexual pain is just as important to a woman’s health and well-being as getting help for a tooth-ache or broken leg.
The pain and discomfort are real and often worsen without treatment.
So before it destroys you, your partner and eventually your marriage. Find a solution