Both men and women may experience painful intercourse, but it’s more common for women than men. The technical name for recurrent painful intercourse is dyspareunia, and according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, almost 3 in 4 women experience pain during intercourse at some point in their lives.
Doctors divide dyspareunia into two categories: entry or deep. If the pain occurs at the beginning of intercourse, it’s considered entry dyspareunia, and if it happens with deep thrusting, it’s deep dyspareunia.
Determining whether you’re experiencing entry or deep dyspareunia is often the first step in diagnosing the cause of your pain. The symptoms for the two types of painful intercourse include:
- Pain during penetration
- Pain when putting in a tampon
- Burning or aching pain
- Throbbing pain that lasts well after intercourse
The pain may be caused by physical problems, such as ovarian cysts or an infection, or it may be rooted in psychological issues, like lack of desire. Either way, the first step in treatment is determining when and where the pain occurs.
Gynecologic problems that can cause pain during intercourse
There are several physical conditions that can result in painful intercourse, but all of them are treatable.
Contact dermatitis is a reaction to substances such as perfumed soaps, some fabrics, or lubricants that irritate your skin. It can cause itching and burning, and is just one example of a skin disorder that can lead to dyspareunia.
Your external sexual organs are collectively called the vulva. A condition that causes chronic pain to the vulva is vulvodynia. There are self-care measures you can take, and in some instances, Dr. Lebowitz may suggest medication or other treatments.
Lower estrogen levels can cause vaginal dryness, which can lead to painful intercourse. Many women experience lower estrogen levels during perimenopause or after menopause. Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy could alleviate pain brought on by low estrogen levels.
There are many types of infections that can cause pain during intercourse, including yeast infections and bacterial infections. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a painful inflammation of the reproductive organs. Other infections can affect your cervix, which could cause pain during intercourse.
Other types of issues that can cause pain during intercourse
Some of the problems that cause pain during intercourse are psychological or emotional. For example, if you’re not feeling sexual desire, intercourse can be painful. Even low self-esteem can impact intercourse.
A condition called vaginismus, which is an involuntary contraction of the muscles at the opening of your vagina, can cause painful intercourse. Sometimes vaginismus is a result of fear.
Regardless of the cause of your pain during intercourse, there are treatments that may be able to help. Don’t let your relationships and overall health suffer needlessly. If intercourse is painful, book an appointment online or by phone with Dr. Lebowitz at his World Wellness Health Institute and begin the process of healing.