Up to 75 percent of women will experience painful sex in their lifetime, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Unfortunately, painful sex is often a very difficult topic to discuss with your partner, and even with your women’s health care provider.
If you feel embarrassed or awkward about painful intercourse, know that you’re far from alone and that it’s important to talk about your symptoms — there could be an underlying health issue that won’t get resolved without proper treatment.
Dr. Leroy Charles is known for his graceful bedside manner and opens up the floor for this kind of conversation during annual well-woman exams and generally all appointments. But in case you need a little bit of help sparking the conversation, take a look at this guide, which details why women should never ignore pain during intercourse.
What constitutes painful sex?
Painful intercourse is actually so common that there’s a medical term for it: dyspareunia. Dyspareunia refers to the entire collection of symptoms that women might feel when labeling their condition as “painful sex”:
- Pain with penetration only
- Pain with penetration and thrusting
- Burning and aching sensations
- Pain that lasts for a long time after sex
- A ripping or tearing sensation on the labia
- Pain only at certain angles
Just because painful sex is common, that doesn’t mean it’s normal. While it’s probably OK to discount occassional minor soreness — such as from particularly rough intercourse or from having sex for the first time in a while — recurring or severe pain is not normal.
Why is sex painful?
Just like there are so many different ways that painful intercourse manifests, there are many possible underlying reasons. Here are some of the most common.
Lack of lubrication
This often occurs due to lack of foreplay and the attempt to start penetration immediately. Increasing kissing and foreplay can help your body produce more natural lubrication. Some medications are also known to reduce sexual arousal, which can decrease your production of lubrication.
Injury or irritation
Trauma to the vagina, such as from childbirth, can cause inflammation and pain. Skin disorders, such as eczema, may also cause inflammation and result in pain.
Bacterial infections in your vaginal area or urinary tract can make penetration painful.
Some health complications in your pelvic region might be causing irritation, inflammation, and pain. Ovarian cysts, uterine fibriods, endometriosis, vaginitis, and vaginismus can all cause sex to be painful.
When your hormone production starts to decrease, you may experience a lower libido, less production of natural lubrication, and changes to your vaginal tissue that lead to painful sex. Hormone replacement therapy is one way to revitalize hormone production.
Don’t ignore the signs
If you’ve been experiencing painful sex, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your OB/GYN and discuss your symptoms and possible conditions. If Dr. Charles determines that your symptoms are the result of a gynecological issue, infection, or injury, he may recommend medication, surgery, or vaginal rejuvenation. If pain is the result of hormonal issues, he may recommend hormone replacement therapy.
To discuss your symptoms with Dr. Charles, make an appointment by calling our Greenacres, Florida, office at 561-264-2055 or by booking your appointment online. You can also send a message to Dr. Charles and the team here on our website.