Pain during sex is not merely a medical problem—it can also become a relationship problem. Three-quarters of women will experience painful sex at some point during their lives. Yet, many women don’t discuss the issue with their doctor due to the widespread stigma of sexual health problems as well as the normalization of female pain during sex. And sometimes, when they do, their pain is dismissed. However, you should know that you don’t have to simply live with your symptoms when many causes of painful sex have effective treatments.
Identifying the Causes of Painful Sex
The medical term for pain during sex is dyspareunia, and it affects between ten and twenty percent of American women. Many different conditions and situations can be the causes of painful sex. Determining which one is affecting you will take a little detective work. The next time you have sex, notice when you experience pain. Is it only at the beginning? If so, it could be a lack of vaginal moisture, not enough lubricant, or vaginismus. In fact, vaginal dryness is the most common cause of painful sex. If pain occurs only during deep penetration, the culprit may be something else, like a tilted uterus. If the pain doesn’t set in until after, it could be a new position or intercourse that was too rough.
Other Frequent Offenders
If you experience persistent pain related to sex, talking about it with your doctor is crucial. They can perform tests (typically a pelvic exam) to help recognize the source of your pain. In the meantime, check out some of the most common causes of painful sex, listed below.
Birth Control: Certain types of birth control can contribute to low desire and pain during sex. Check with your doctor about substituting a new form of contraception if you think this is the reason.
Ectopic Pregnancy: This particular kind of pregnancy happens when a fertilized egg grows outside of the uterus, causing pain in general and during sex.
Endometriosis: Endometriosis is a medical condition where uterine-like tissue grows outside of the uterus. It affects almost ten percent of women, with thirty percent of those diagnosed reporting dyspareunia symptoms.
Injury: Vaginal injuries can cause pain during sex. If you have recently given birth, ride bicycles long distances, or engage in other activities that cause strain on the vagina, that could be the cause. Sometimes, the pain will subside after a period of healing.
Latex Allergy: If you’re sensitive to latex, your skin may become irritated with the use of a latex condom. Try switching to non-latex condoms, and the pain may decrease.
Mental Health Concerns: Issues like anxiety, phobias, or sexual aversions can cause discomfort during sex.
Ovarian Cysts: Cysts on your ovaries are not always painful, but if they are, it may be a sign that they’ve ruptured. Ruptured cysts can undoubtedly cause painful sex.
STIs: Common sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhea, herpes, and chlamydia can cause dyspareunia. Getting an annual STI check is a good idea for anyone who is sexually active, regardless of age.
Solutions for Painful Sex
For many women, the issue is vaginal dryness. Try Membrasin®’s estrogen-free, clinically studied Vitality Pearls and topical Intimate Moisture Cream that support vaginal moisture to help reduce pain during sex.