Dyspareunia is the medical term for painful sexual intercourse in women. Painful intercourse may be short-lived or may continue for a long period of time. It may occur just before, during or after intercourse, and the specific location and severity of the pain may vary. Women with dyspareunia may experience pain during penetration, pain with intimate touching or pain when experiencing orgasm.
Causes of Painful Intercourse
Pain during intercourse may be a result of various conditions that may include:
- Skin disorders
- Certain medical conditions
- Medications that diminish sexual desire
- Psychological factors
Gynecologic disorders including endometriosis, hormonal changes, vaginitis or the growth of ovarian cysts may also be responsible for sexual pain. Some women experience painful or uncomfortable sexual intercourse for months after childbirth.
Diagnosis of Painful Intercourse
To diagnose the cause of painful intercourse, a doctor will review the patient's medical history and pelvic exam is usually performed to detect possible skin irritation, infection, or external or internal abnormalities. Some patients may require further testing such as a laparoscopy to more closely view internal structures of the reproductive system. Blood tests may also be performed to measure hormone levels.
Treatment for Painful Intercourse
Painful intercourse that is caused by an underlying condition, such as an infection or disease, can usually be treated by addressing the associated condition. Other treatment options may include:
- Changing current medications
- Hormone supplements
- Use of lubricants
- Kegel exercises
- Anti-inflammatory medication
Sessions with a certified sex therapist may be helpful for pain caused by emotional factors. Different treatment options and approaches may be recommended for a patient's particular condition, taking into account the causes of sexual pain, as well as their individual needs and comfort.