​Painful intercourse

Are you experiencing painful intercourse? Nearly three out of four women do at some point in their lives, most commonly after they've gone through menopause. And while temporary for most women, it can be a long-term condition. At The Christ Hospital Health Network, we understand that you may feel embarrassed or uncomfortable talking about pain during sex, but your gynecologist is here to listen to your concerns, answer your questions and offer help.

Pain during intercourse, also known as dyspareunia, can range from mild discomfort to excruciating. It may burn, sting or feel sharp. Your pain may be felt on the vulva (outer genitals), deep within the vagina, or in the general pelvic area, which is most common.

If you are experiencing pain during or after intercourse, it could be due to an undiagnosed health condition. Our Women's Health experts provide a comfortable, caring patient experience that addresses your symptoms and offers treatment customized for your needs.

Painful intercourse causes

Your gynecologist can determine if your pain is the result of a gynecologic condition such as:

  • A childbirth-related condition

  • Inherited abnormality

  • Endometriosis

  • Scarring from previous pelvic surgeries

  • Skin disorders

  • Uterine fibroids [link to Uterine fibroids overview page]

  • Vaginal atrophy (the walls of the vagina and vulva become thinner and dryer, due to a decrease in estrogen)

  • Vaginismus (a spasm of the muscles of the vagina)

  • Vaginitis (inflammation or infection of the vagina)

Painful intercourse risk factors

Certain factors do increase your risk for painful intercourse, including:

Painful intercourse symptoms

Your painful intercourse symptoms may vary from the list below. Share all that you have with your doctor to get an accurate diagnosis and individualized treatment.

  • Being tense during sex or expecting pain to occur

  • Burning or aching pain

  • Deep pain during thrusting

  • New pain after previously being pain free

  • Pain at penetration

  • Throbbing pain that continues after intercourse

When to call a doctor

Make an appointment with your doctor when painful intercourse is severe, disrupts your life or causes problems in your sexual relationship and emotional health.

If you’re experiencing painful intercourse, discuss your concerns with your gynecologists or make an appointment with one of our painful intercourse experts.

Do you have questions about painful intercourse but not ready to talk with your doctor about it? Contact our ezCare Concierge nurse navigator, a free, confidential service designed to help you navigate the best next steps for you and your health. 

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