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Painful Intercourse: Causes, Symptoms And Possible Treatments

By Saksham Bhatia +2 more

Dyspareunia or the pain experienced during the sexual act can be problematic for a couple’s relationship. Negative emotional outcomes may occur in addition to the sexual activity being physically painful. Therefore, the issue must be resolved as soon as it manifests.

Causes of dyspareunia/intercourse pain

If there is insufficient vaginal lubrication means, a woman may frequently have painful intercourse. If the female becomes more at ease, if there is more foreplay or if the pair utilises a sexual lubricant, the pain can be alleviated.

If one of the following circumstances applies, a woman might occasionally have painful sex:

  • Vaginismus: This situation is typical. It entails an uncontrollable contraction of the vaginal muscles, occasionally brought on by a dread of pain.
  • Infected vagina: Yeast infections are among these widespread disorders.
  • Cervix-related issues (opening to the uterus): In this situation, the penis can penetrate all the way to the cervix. Therefore, discomfort during deep penetration may result from issues with the cervix (such as infections).
  • Complications with the uterus: Fibroids, which can cause severe intercourse discomfort, may be one of these issues.
  • Endometriosis: This is a disorder where tissue that borders inside the uterus seems like it grows.
  • Outside the uterus.
  • Ovaries-related issues: Cysts on the ovaries could be a problem.
  • Inflammation of the pelvis (PID): When you have PID, the strain of intimacy produces severe inside inflammation and intense discomfort.
  • Ectopic conception: A fertilised egg grows outside the uterus during this pregnancy.
  • Menopause: The vaginal lining may become dry and lose its typical moisture with menopause.
  • Sexual activity too soon after a procedure or childbirth.
  • Illnesses that are spread sexually. These could be herpes sores, genital warts or other STDs.
  • Damage to the vagina or vulva: These wounds could be tears from childbirth or cuts (episiotomies) caused during labour in the skin between the vagina and the anus.
  • Vulvodynia: This is persistent pain that affects a woman’s vulva, which is her group of external sexual organs, including her labia, clitoris and vaginal opening. It might just happen in one place or spread to different places over time. There is no recognised cure and doctors are unsure of its root cause. However, alleviation may be obtained by combining self-care with medical interventions.

Dyspareunia/painful intercourse: symptoms and signs

Pain from dyspareunia can take many different forms. 

  • There may be pain in the bladder, urethra or vagina.
  • Throughout penetration.
  • During or following sexual activity.
  • During sex, deep in the pelvic.
  • Following a pain-free encounter.
  • Only in certain situations or with certain partners.
  • While using tampons.
  • In addition to stinging, itching or hurting.
  • With a sharp pain that feels like menstruation cramps.

Who is susceptible to dyspareunia?

Dyspareunia can affect both men and women. However, it is more typical in females. One of the most prevalent issues affecting postmenopausal women is dyspareunia.

According to studies, over 75% of women experience painful sex at some point. You run a higher risk if you:

  • Use drugs that make your genital area dry
  • Possess a bacterial or viral infection
  • Are post the menopause

How is dyspareunia handled?


Treatments for dyspareunia are based on the underlying cause of the disorder. Your doctor can prescribe antibiotics to manage your pain if it is brought on by an underlying illness or condition.

  • Antifungal medicines
  • Either topical or intravenous medicines

Your doctor might alter your prescription if a long-term medicine is causing vaginal dryness. Trying alternative medicines might relieve pain and restore natural lubrication.

Some women experience dyspareunia due to low oestrogen levels. A tiny, regular amount of oestrogen can be given to the vagina via a prescription tablet, cream or flexible ring.

 Also, some oestrogen-free medications mimic oestrogen’s effects on vaginal tissues. It works well to thicken and stabilise the tissues. This can lessen the discomfort that women feel during sexual activity.

Home care

These natural treatments can also lessen the symptoms of dyspareunia:

  • Use lubricants that are water-soluble. Get lubricants that dissolve in the water here.
  • When you and your lover feel at ease, have sex.
  • Be honest with your lover about your suffering.
  • Before having intercourse, empty your bladder.
  • Pre-sex bathe in a warm bath.
  • To relieve burning after intercourse, use an ice pack on the vulva. Purchase ice cubes.

Also Read: Vaginal Burning After Sex: Research-Based Reasons and Relief Options

Substitute treatments

Additionally, your doctor might advise therapy. This can include sex therapy or desensitisation therapy. You’ll learn pain-relieving vaginal relaxation techniques, like Kegel exercises, in desensitisation therapy.

You can learn how to repair the connection and enhance communication with your partner through sex therapy. Managing and understanding stress can also help.

Also Read: Can You Get Herpes from Kissing? Demystifying Common Health Myths


Dyspareunia or pain experienced during sexual intercourse can be problematic for a couple’s relationship. If there is insufficient vaginal lubrication, a woman may frequently have painful intercourse. The pain can be alleviated if the female becomes more at ease or if foreplay is increased. Over 75% of women experience painful sex at some point in their lives. Alternatives to medications can help relieve pain and restore natural lubrication.

Until underlying issues are treated, alternatives to sexual activity may be helpful. Until penetration is more comfortable, you and your companion can employ other intimate approaches. Alternatives that may be satisfying include reciprocal masturbation, kissing, sensual massage and oral sex.

Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.

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