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Dyspareunia is pain or discomfort in a woman’s labial, vaginal, or pelvic areas during or after sexual intercourse. The word dyspareunia comes from early Greek language, and its meanings include “difficulty mating” or “badly mated”. Dyspareunia is described in medical literature dating back to the ancient Egyptian scrolls. Early Hebrews regarded this condition as sufficient cause for divorce. Today, the causes of dyspareunia may be easily discovered and treated.

Almost every woman experiences discomfort during sex at some point in her life. Pain and/or discomfort are not normal. But many women suffer in silence for years because they’re embarrassed to ask for help or because they’ve been told it’s all in their heads. If you experience pain (Dyspareunia), don’t be afraid to tell your partner who has no way of knowing that you’re uncomfortable unless you talk about what you’re feeling. While wpmen pain can be a symptom of stress, depression, or some other psychological problem, there are a number of physical conditions to rule out before heading for the therapist’s couch. See if any of the following describes your problem.

Vaginal Infections

Sometimes pain during sex could be the first sign of vaginal infection. Certain vaginal infections such as vaginal yeast infections and trichomoniasis are often present without noticeable symptoms. However during sexual intercourse, the rubbing motion of the penis against the vagina and genitalia sometimes causes the symptoms of these vaginal infections to intensify causing stinging and burning. Genital herpes sores are another frequent cause of pain during sex.

Vaginal yeast and bacterial infections can reduce lubrication and irritate the opening of the vagina, and will usually be accompanied by itching or an unusual discharge or odor. A urinary tract infection will hurt most when you urinate but can also cause pain during sex because of the pressure on a tender, inflamed bladder. Abdominal pain with intercourse may be a symptom of the sexually transmitted disease chlamydia. Left untreated, chlamydia can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, which causes inflammation and scarring that can make sex unbearable. Once diagnosed, most infections are easily treated with antibiotics or, in the case of yeast, antifungal creams or pills.


About 5 million American women have this painful condition in which tissue from the lining of the uterus grows into areas outside of the uterus such as the vagina or pelvis where it becomes inflamed. More than half of these women report pain with intercourse. Endometriosis can usually be treated with drugs that temporarily suppress estrogen production or surgery to remove the wayward tissue. Birth control pills can also help. Using the woman-on-top position or limiting intercourse to the week or two after you menstruate may also minimize the discomfort.

Interstitial Cystitis

When you feel as if you have a urinary tract infection, but antibiotics won’t make it go away, the problem is probably interstitial cystitis. Experts don’t know what triggers this condition, in which your bladder becomes chronically inflamed, leading to severe pelvic pain that tends to worsen during sex. Like vulvodynia, this condition is difficult to diagnose and treat. Sufferers may find relief from one of a variety of treatments, such as the drug Elmiron, but no single therapy seems to work for everyone. The woman-on-top position may help you avoid the discomfort that comes with deep penetration.



If burning pain at the opening of the vagina has made sex impossible but your doctor can’t find a cause, you may have vulvodynia, a condition in which part of the vulva is chronically inflamed. No one knows how many women suffer from it or what first sets off the pain, which may be a constant torture or may flare up just during sex. Experimental treatments include cutting certain foods out of your diet or learning to use a biofeedback device to control muscle spasms that may be contributing to the pain. Surgery to remove the inflamed skin has resolved the problem for some women, but should be considered only as a last resort.

Vaginal Irritation Factors

Often women are using ingredients which could contain chemical irritating products. These products could cause vaginal irritation, discomfort and/or pain during sex. Please pay special attention to following products – Contraceptive foams, creams, or jellies; Condoms, diaphragms, or latex gloves which could provoke allergic reactions; Vaginal deodorant sprays; Scented tampons; Deodorant soaps and Laundry detergents. By the way the excessive vaginal douching also can provoke vaginal irritation and following pain during sex.


If you’re breastfeeding or approaching menopause, your sexual discomfort may be due to hormonal changes. In both cases, falling estrogen levels can dry up your natural lubrication and make your vaginal tissue fragile. New moms may want to use a drugstore lubricant until their estrogen levels return to normal when they stop breastfeeding. Older women with this complaint may consider going on hormone replacement therapy or using an estrogen cream.

Lack of Vaginal Lubrication

Vaginal dryness often causes painful sexual intercourse. Usually women lubricate before sexual contact which is normal reaction of the vagina. However, during certain times the vagina may be dry and make vaginal penetration painful. Lack of vaginal lubrication can be observed in following situations: 1. Trying to achieve vaginal penetration too fast before enough stimulation has occurred to allow normal vaginal lubrication to take place; 2. Feeling nervous or tense about the sexual experience can slow down the release of vaginal lubrication; 3. Using a condom may make vaginal intercourse difficult without the addition of a vaginal lubricant. Saliva is an acceptable for vaginal lubrication; however, never use a petroleum-based product such as Vaseline (petroleum products can cause deterioration of condoms and also may create a breeding ground for vaginal infections).

Vaginal Tightness

Occasionally this happens when you feel tense, or are not fully relaxed when penetration occurs. Difficulty penetrating a tight vagina can happen even when vaginal lubrication is not a problem. Often, the first few times you engage in sexual intercourse, the vagina may be tight due to an unstretched hymen and cause pain at the time of penetration.
Sometimes a more severe condition called vaginismus is responsible for vaginal tightness; women with vaginismus experience strong, involuntary muscle spasms of the vaginal muscles during sexual intercourse or vaginal penetration by any object including fingers and tampons.

Pain of the Clitoris

The clitoris is the most sensitive part of the female genitalia. Gentle touching or rubbing of the clitoris is extremely pleasurable for some women, while for others it is unbearably painful. Clitoral pain may also occur due to poor hygiene; vaginal secretions may collect under the clitoral hood and if not carefully washed away may lead to pain.

Pelvic Pain

Occasionally women will experience pelvic pain upon deep, thrusting penetration. Many conditions may cause this pain including:1). Tears in the ligaments that support the uterus (causes include problems during childbirth, inappropriately performed abortion, previous violent sexual intercourse or rape); 2). Cervical, uterine, or tubal infections such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID); 3). Pelvic adhesions (often the result of previous pelvic surgery or PID); 4). Endometriosis; 5). Ovarian cysts and 6). Uterine Fibroid Tumors.

Dyspareunia prevention

Applying lubricating gels to the outer sexual organs, including the vulva and labia, and in the vagina may be helpful to women and ease pain during intercourse. To possibly help prevent pain during intercourse it is better to avoid or discontinue use of the following – Perfumed soaps; Douching; Vaginal perfumes; Bubble baths; Scented or tinted toilet papers; Panty liners or tight synthetic undergarments such as panty hose.

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