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Do you have pain during sex?

Having great intimacy is a part of a satisfying relationship where lovemaking is enjoyable, not painful. Often during or after sex you may feel pain in certain areas and wonder why it hurts. The fact is you are not alone if you experience this problem.

Up to 20 percent of American women are affected by pain during sex. The pain you experience may be rare or temporary, but for many others, it can be a long-term problem. Women are sometimes afraid to discuss this issue with their partner or doctor and blame themselves. It can impact your mental and physical health, body image, and efforts to have a baby.

If you have constant or repeated pain, be proactive and talk with your OB/GYN to discuss any causes and seek treatment if this issue continues to hinder your sex life.

What are the possible causes?

The causes may vary wildly, but WebMD notes some of the conditions leading to painful sex:

  • Involuntary muscle spasms in the vaginal muscles
  • Yeast Infections
  • Problems with the Cervix
  • Uterine Problems – Fibroids
  • Endometriosis
  • Ovarian Cysts
  • Menopause
  • UTIs

Dryness is common in both menopausal/post-menopausal women, which may make sex painful. Dryness also throws off the vagina’s balance of good bacteria. Having sex too soon after surgery or childbirth may also cause pain.

A Cleveland Clinic article discusses that this problem may also cause issues in a couple’s sexual relationship and should be addressed. It may have negative emotional effects as well as physical pain.

Psychological causes may be due to anxiety, fear, and depression. Stress can also trigger a tightening of the pelvic floor muscles, resulting in pain.

What are the symptoms?

The Mayo Clinic outlines some of the following:

  • Pain only at sexual entry
  • Pain with every penetration
  • Deep pain
  • Burning or aching pain
  • Throbbing pain long after intercourse

Is there a treatment?

The good news is that there are effective treatment options available. The Cleveland Clinic states that some treatments for female sexual pain do not require medical intervention. In the case of painful sex after pregnancy, wait at least six weeks after childbirth before attempting intercourse. Practice gentleness and patience.

There are treatments for sexual pain that require a doctor’s care. If there is dryness due to menopause, ask your physician about estrogen creams, tablets, rings, or other prescription medications.

For sexual pain where there is no underlying cause, sexual therapy might be helpful.

Are there self-help steps to take?

There are some pain-relieving steps you can take according to ACOG, but be sure to talk with your physician for advice. Before sex you may want to:

  • Empty your bladder
  • Take a warm bath
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever
  • Use a water-soluble lubricant
  • Make time for sex by setting aside time when neither you or your partner are tired or anxious

Don’t suffer in silence, take the time to address the problem to get you back on track to sharing a satisfying sexual relationship with your partner.


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The information on this site is intended to raise awareness and understanding of specific health issues. It should not be used for diagnosis or a substitute for health care by your physician.

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