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Pain during Sex
Reviewed by Frank Cockerill, MD, July 21, 2017
Dyspareunia (dis-puh-ROO-nee-uh), or pain during sex, can be a
serious problem that can affect your sexual relationship with your partner. It is typically
defined as recurrent or persistent pain in the genital region just before, during, or after
intercourse. One of the more common reasons why women experience pain during
sex is a lack of lubrication.
That being said, pain during sex could
also be a sign of an STD or a more serious condition. In addition to STD
testing, we would also recommend an person evaluation for this
Yes. Getting tested regularly is the best way to stay up-to-date on your sexual health. If
you are having unprotected sex or sex with a new partner, STD testing may be the right
decision for you.
Most women are unaware that pain during intercoursecan be a symptom of STDs such as
chlamydia, syphilis, or
herpes type 1 or type 2.
Syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea are curable with
antibiotics if detected and treated early. As long as it’s treated in the early
stages, long-term risks associated with syphilis, chlamydia, and
gonorrhea are minimal.
There is not a cure for
herpes type 1 or herpes type 2. Antiviral medications can help prevent
the spread of herpes type 1 & 2 but their effectiveness is not a
guarantee. By taking prescribed medications, using condoms and notifying their partners, patients who test
positive for herpes type 1 & herpes type 2 can help reduce the risk
of infecting others, while being sexually active.
Untreated STDs can cause long term health problems for patients, so it’s important to
get tested if you believe you’re at risk.
If you are experiencing pain during intercourse, you may
Pain only at the initial point of penetration
Pain with every penetration, which can include non-sexual
acts like inserting a tampon
Pain that develops directly after intercourse, even if pain
was not experienced during penetration/intercourse
Deep pain and discomfort during thrusting
General burning or aching pain
Throbbing pain, which can last for hours, even after
What else could be causing pain during sex?
Outside of sexually transmitted
diseases and issues with lubrication, there are a number of conditions that could be causing
you to experience pain when you have sex.
Vaginismus — a commonly
found condition in women that involves an involuntary spasm in the vaginal muscles, mainly
caused by fear of being hurt.
Vaginal infections — while STDs
infections can be found around the vaginal region, yeast infections could also be found in
the same area and can also cause pain or discomfort during sex.
Cervix problems —
in some cases during sex, a penis, dildo, or other foreign
object, can reach the cervix, the opening of the uterus, at maximum penetration.
This can lead to problems with the cervix, like infections, which can also cause pain
during deep penetration.
Uterus problems — fibroids can cause
pain in the uterus during sex and deep penetration.
Ovary problems —
cysts in a woman’s ovaries could cause pain during
a unique condition where the tissue that makes up the interior
lining of the uterus starts to grow outside of the uterus.
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
— the tissue in the pelvis becomes inflamed and
irritated which can lead to excess amounts of pressure and discomfort.
Ectopic pregnancy —
a particular type of pregnancy occurs when an egg is
fertilized outside of the uterus, which can lead to discomfort and pain during
during menopause, the lining inside of the vagina may lose
some of its natural moisture, which results in a dry interior lining. This can lead
to pain during intercourse.
Injuries to the vulva or vagina — injuries to the vulva or the vagina may include tearing or scarring from
childbirth or possibly an episiotomy, a type of cut/incision.
These tears typically occur somewhere between the anus and the vagina,
as a result of childbirth or the physician performs an episiotomy to accommodate vaginal delivery.