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|Sexual intimacy between partners is the most enjoyable experience that connects them physically and emotionally. But when sex becomes painful for one, you tend to create excuses just to avoid the same.|
Yes, the pain during intercourse results in embarrassment. This is quite a common concern and almost three in four women experience pain during sex at some point in their lives. In fact, as per the study, around one-third of young adults and almost 50% of women have undergone discomfort during sex at some point of time. Pelvic pain during sex can also lead to issues in relationships, loss of intimacy, and even anxiety & depression.
The discomfort during sex can be experienced as pelvic pain, or pain in the labial, vaginal pain or even vulvar areas during sex. Intensity of pain varies from person-to-person; it could be sharp, deep, or may feel like a burning sensation. However, the good news is that many of these reasons for painful sex can be treated by a gynaecologist or through herbal sexual health supplements.
Now, let’s study the reasons for painful sex in detail below.
What Is Painful Sex (Dyspareunia) in Women?
Sometimes women feel pain during intercourse which affects the couple’s sexual relationship. In addition to physical pain, this has negative emotional effects and is called Dyspareunia. Reasons for pain during intercourse can be related to menopause or other physical or psychological health concerns.
Dyspareunia, or often described as pain during intercourse, comprises a feeling of pain just before, during, or after sex. This pain during sex may also affect other parts of your body such as the vagina, lower back, uterus, bladder and pelvic pain during sex.
Some women experience pain only during sexual intercourse, while others feel pain even when inserting tampons in their vaginas. The feeling of deep pain with each thrust, or pain slowly emerging after normal sex, was reported by many women. Along with this, some women even feel continuous throbbing or burning pain long after intercourse.
The symptoms of dyspareunia are:
- The pain only at sexual entry
- Pain with every penetration, including putting a tampon
- Deep pain, burning pain, or aching pain
- Throbbing pain lasting hours after intercourse
Painful sex can be there for structural and or psychological reasons. Many causes of dyspareunia can be cured with medication and or counseling. Consult your doctor if you are experiencing pain during intercourse.
Signs You Are Experiencing Discomfort During Sex
Pain during sex can occur for so many different reasons, including physical problems, gynecological conditions, emotional issues, hormones imbalances, etc.
Check out the signs mentioned below in case you feel discomfort during sex:
- External lubrication does not help: Normally lubricants help but in case it does not help you should look at other signs of discomfort.
- Bleeding after intercourse: After menopause vaginal bleeding should be a cause of concern. This could be something serious to discuss with your doctor.
- Difficulty or pain during urination: More frequent urination and painful burning sensation during urination is also a cause of concern. If required the UTI needs to be treated.
- Nausea: Some women get sick for days and suffer from nausea which is a sign of Chronic BV (Bacterial Vaginosis).
- Affecting the relationship: A relationship with your partner would start affecting if you don’t communicate or discuss the problem with your partner. Avoiding sex and not communicating properly will affect the relationship.
- Afraid to have sex: If you find that fear and anxiety about having sex is affecting you, it’s time to see a doctor.
- Your pain is getting worse: For some women despite using the lubricants, the pain gets worse. Other symptoms are itching or burning around the vulva, vaginal tightness and a few of the above-mentioned conditions means it’s time to see your gynecologist.
If the above signs are there, it’s time to see a doctor and immediate dyspareunia treatment is required.
Causes of Painful Sex in Women
Common physical causes of dyspareunia are vaginal dryness from menopause, childbirth, breastfeeding, medications, and too little arousal before intercourse. In addition to these, psychological reasons could be fear and discomfort with a partner.
Physical causes are as follows:
- Not properly lubricated: One of the major reasons for painful sex is not enough lubrication. And, if your body is not producing enough lubrication, this may be a sign that you have some type of vitamin deficiency.
- Vaginismus: The muscles of the vaginal walls or tightening can lead to pain during sex.
- Genital Injury or trauma: Any accident or some pelvic surgery at the time of childbirth can result in pelvic pain during sex. Abnormalities at birth where hymen blocks the vaginal entry
- Infection (UTI and or other): An infection in the genital areas or UTI problems can cause pain during intercourse.
- Inflammation or infection: Causes discomfort in the affected area
- Chronic BV: Bacterial Vaginosis and yeast vaginal infections are also major causes of pain during sex.
Reasons for deep pain or burning during sex can because of:
- Certain illnesses such as endometriosis, uterine prolapse, pelvic inflammatory disease, uterine fibroids, retroverted uterus, cystitis, pelvic floor dysfunction, adenomyosis, irritable bowel syndrome, hemorrhoids, and ovarian cysts.
- Surgeries or medical treatments after pelvic surgery and medical treatments for cancer can cause changes that result in discomfort during sex.
Emotional factors can also be the reasons for painful sex
- Psychological issues like anxiety, depression, fear of intimacy, low level of arousal, concerns about your physical appearance can all result in pain during intercourse.
- Some history of sexual abuse can influence your behaviour leading to pain during sex.
Treatment Options for Pain during Intercourse
Dyspareunia treatment options depend on the cause of pain. Some of the medication and other treatments are as follows:
- See a functional medicine GYN doctor: As getting to the root cause of the issue is essential. Also, the GYN doctor treat painful sex from the inside out. As in some cases the problem is due to lack of vitamin deficiency in the body, while in other cases it may be more severe and require extensive long term treatment. Hence, a GYN who practices Integrative Medicine will get the root of the problem and apply the right remedy.
- Infections can be treated for their cause. Many postmenopausal issues can be treated with topical estrogen applied directly to the vagina. Food and drug administration approved drugs to treat moderate to severe dyspareunia. There are drawbacks like hot flashes, blood clots, risk of stroke, and cancer of the lining of the uterus. Alternatively, there are a few drugs that can be placed inside the vagina daily.
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT), or the consumption of vitamins for reproductive hormones that your body no longer produces is the vital dyspareunia treatment. It is beneficial for menopausal women affected by vaginal dryness or who suffer from pelvic pain during sex.
- Desensitization therapy: Learn vaginal exercises that can decrease pain.
- Counseling and sex therapy: Even after dyspareunia treatment, if sex has been painful for some time there can be negative emotional responses to sexual stimulation. So it will help to improve communication with the partner to restore sexual intimacy. Taking help from an external counselor or therapist will also help and ease down your discomfort during sex.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: This will help in changing negative thought patterns and behaviours and can help with pain during sex.
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The pain during intercourse, or dyspareunia, can lead to problems in a couple’s sexual relationship. Furthermore, to physically painful sex, there is also the chance of negative emotional effects. Thus, eradicating the problem as soon as it arises is essential.
There are some home remedies that can also help reduce dyspareunia symptoms and provide relief in pain during intercourse. Like, use water-soluble lubricants, the partner being relaxed before having sex, communication of pain with the partner. Also, have an empty bladder before sex, have a warm bath before sex. You can take a pain reliever before sex and for help burning sensation after sex apply an ice pack to the vagina.
Preventing discomfort during sex
There’s no specific prevention for dyspareunia. But a few things can be done to reduce the risk of pain during intercourse:
- Use proper hygiene
- Wait at least six weeks after childbirth before resuming sexual intercourse.
- Use lubricants for vaginal dryness
- Visit a Functional GYN Doctor and request a full wellness assessment.
- By using condoms or other barriers, prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
- By enough time for foreplay and stimulation, encourage natural vaginal lubrication
Also Read: Vaginal Discharge & Its Color Guide
Normally burning sensation is due to UTI (urinary tract infection) or a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
Related Article: How Cystimax Could Help Relieve UTI Symptoms?
An orgasm involves the contraction of muscles in the pelvis and pelvic floor. Intense contraction of these temporary cramps may be caused during or after sex. Or issues with the digestive system can cause abdominal pain. Constipation and gas are two main common causes of stomach pain after sex or pain during intercourse.
The straining of pelvic and abdominal muscles sometimes can lead to cramping during sex. This is like any other exercise. Tight muscles, dehydration, and working muscles in awkward positions can cause cramps. These cramps usually disappear in a few seconds. Orgasm can also cause cramps.
Dyspareunia is a pain which repeatedly happens just before, during, or after intercourse. It’s not necessary that it’s due to some diseases, it can also be due to vaginal dryness, some intense intercourse, or some bad feelings for the partner. Also, it is called pain during intercourse.
Infections, not necessarily transmitted sexually cause lower abdominal pain while having sex. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and urinary tract infection (UTI) are the most common infections that cause pain during sex.
During maximum penetration, the penis reaches the cervix, and sometimes an infection in the cervix could also trigger pain during sex. Tropical creams that treat vaginal infections could be of help and offer relief in pain during intercourse.