Painful Intercourse (Dyspaurenia): Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

Painful Intercourse (Dyspaurenia): Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

Painful intercourse also known as dyspareunia (in medical term) is a persistent and periodic pain experience during and after a sexual intercourse. It is a common, distressing and frustrating experience for both partners and affect people of all ages and genders. It affects one’s sexual orientation.  It can be caused by a variety of physical, emotional and psychological factors, and can be treated with a variety of approaches, the appropriate treatment will depend on the specific cause of the pain. If you are experiencing painful intercourse, it is important to talk to your doctor in order to determine the cause and find the most appropriate treatment. With the right approach, it is possible to manage or even resolve this issue and improve your sexual health and well-being.

Another important point to consider is that painful sex can have a significant impact on a person’s overall sexual health and well-being. It can lead to decreased desire for sex, difficulties with intimacy, and relationship problems. Seeking medical attention and addressing the underlying cause of the pain is important not only for physical comfort, but also for overall sexual and emotional well-being.

Here are some common causes of painful sex

There are many potential causes of painful intercourse, and it is often a combination of factors that contribute to the problem. Some common causes include:

Physical Causes:

These can include structural issues such as:

– Endometriosis: This is a condition in which tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside of it, causing pain and inflammation.

– Uterine fibroids

– Sexually transmitted infections (STIs),  UTIs, yeast infections can all cause pain during sex.

– Menopause

– Vulvodynia (chronic pain in the vulva), or pelvic muscle spasm.

– Vaginal dryness: This is a common issue for women who are experiencing menopause or who are taking certain medications that can cause dryness.

– Vaginismus: This is a condition in which the muscles around the vagina tense up and make penetration painful. It happens when the vaginal muscles contrasts involuntarily, meaning you don’t have control over it. It is the body’s auto response to vaginal penetration borne out of fear. The vaginal muscles gets tighten on its own accord at the point of penetration.

– Vaginal Infection: This happens when the vaginal is inflammed as a result of overgrown bacteria. Vaginal Infections like Trichomoniasis, yeast infection which gives a burning sensation leading to itching and eventually gives you a sore. Another type of vaginal infection is bacterial vaginosis,  this comes with greenish or yellowish discharge and odour.

– Pelvic floor muscle dysfunction: This can cause pain during sex as well as other symptoms such as incontinence and difficulty with bowel movements.

– Having a complicated uterus: Most times the pressure (deep penetration) placed on the uterine fibroid close to the cervix during intercourse is able to cause pain.

– Ectopic Pregnancy

– Cancer

– Some form of medications and surgery

–  Low estrogen level

Psychological Causes:

– Stress

– Anxiety

-Depression and past sexual trauma can all contribute to pain during sex. Therapy can be helpful in addressing these issues and finding ways to manage them.

– Relationship issues: Communication problems, lack of emotional intimacy or conflicts with a partner can also lead to painful intercourse.

If you are experiencing painful sex, it is important to seek the help of a healthcare practitioner to determine the cause and get appropriate treatment. Apart from having an underlying disease, painful intercourse is commonly caused by inadequate lubrication of the vaginal, a rough ‘ride’ (sex) or not having a mutual connection with a partner. Painful sex can stretch from being moderate to acute if not given the necessary attention or treatment.

In the meantime, you can try using lubricants, it helps to reduce friction and allows for a smooth thrusting. Take breaks during sexual activity to allow for relaxation and reduction of discomfort. Communicating with your partner about your pain and any limitations you may have can also be helpful in finding ways to make sex more comfortable.

Symptoms Of Painful Intercourse

The primary symptom of painful intercourse is, of course pain during or after sexual activity. This pain can range from mild to severe and may be localized to the genital area or extend to other parts of the body.

1. Pain as the penis tries to gain access to the vagina (sexual entry)

2. Pain in the course of thrusting.

3. Pain during fingering (foreplay) and when inserting a tampon.

4. Pulsating pains that may linger for some times after an intercourse

These symptoms will eventually lead to:

Difficulty becoming aroused
Difficulty achieving orgasm
Vaginal dryness
Bleeding after intercourse
Discomfort or pain when walking or sitting

Treatment For Painful Sex

Treatment for painful intercourse will depend on the underlying cause. Some possible approaches include:

Medical treatment: If a physical cause is identified, treatment may involve medication or surgery. For example, antibiotics may be used to treat an STI, topical or corticosteroid injection or antifungal treatment as prescribed by your doctor. Hormone therapy may also be recommended for menopause-related pain. However, you may experience vaginal dryness if the medication stretches for too long, talk to your doctor for a change of prescription.

Psychological therapy: Therapy can be helpful for addressing psychological causes of painful intercourse, such as anxiety or past trauma. Techniques such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or exposure therapy may be used to help a person cope with these issues.

Lifestyle changes: Making changes to your diet and exercise routine, as well as practicing stress-reduction techniques, may help alleviate painful intercourse.

Communication and relationship counseling: Improving communication with a partner and addressing relationship issues may also be an important part of treatment.

Vaginal dilators: These devices can help stretch and loosen the vaginal muscles, which may be helpful for people with vulvodynia or other structural issues.

Lubricants and moisturizers: These products can help alleviate dryness and discomfort during intercourse.

More Tips To Help You Get Rid Of  Painful Intercourse

– Make sure you don’t have urine stored up in your bladder before having sex.

– Take an analgesic (pain relieve) before sex.

– To get rid of dryness; use water based lubricants.

– You might experience a painful sex if you indulge in sex few days after birthing your child, it is advisable you wait for at least six (6) weeks (recovery period) before having sex, by then the uterus must have snapped back to its normal position and the muscles would have recover its strength and firmness.

–  A woman may also experience vaginal dryness during menopause (another cause of dyspareunia) this is because at the menopausal stage the body loses estrogen (sex hormone). Your doctor may recommend an estrogen cream meant to ease or reduce vaginal dryness.

– You may also need to see a sex therapist if you need to sort out some frictions or mixed feelings regarding sex. In addition you will also learn how to build up intimacy and boost communication with your partner.

– Treatment may involve pelvic floor muscle exercises and/or therapy to address any underlying  issues.

It is important to remember that everyone’s experience with sex is different, and what is comfortable and pleasurable for one person may not be the same for another. Communicate with your partner about your needs and boundaries, and the need for  trying different techniques and approaches to find what works best for both of you.

There are a few things you can try on your own to help manage dyspareunia and still enjoy sex:

Communication: It is important to openly and honestly communicate with your partner about your feelings and concerns related to dyspareunia. This can help your partner understand your needs and be more supportive.

Use of  lubricants: Lubricants can help reduce pain and discomfort during sexual activity.

Experiment with different positions: Some positions may be more comfortable than others. Experimenting with different positions can help you find positions that are more comfortable and pleasurable.

Take breaks: If you need to, it is okay to take breaks during sexual activity. You can also try incorporating non-penetrative sexual activities, such as oral sex or mutual masturbation, into your intimacy.

Focus on pleasure: Try not to focus solely on the pain during sexual activity. Instead, focus on the pleasurable sensations and on being present with your partner.

Note also that everyone’s experience with dyspareunia is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. It may take some time to find what works best for you, but it is important to be patient and to continue to communicate with your partner and healthcare provider.

How does sexual pain feel like:

Physical pain during sex can feel like a sharp or burning sensation, discomfort, pressure, or aching in the genital area, including the vagina, penis, clitoris, or anus. Some people may experience pain only at the beginning of sexual activity, while others may experience pain throughout the entire sexual encounter. Pain can also be felt during or after ejaculation or orgasm.

Most women feel who feel pain during sex, experience a feel like a tearing or stretching sensation, especially if there is not enough lubrication or if there is an underlying medical condition such as vaginismus, endometriosis, or pelvic inflammatory disease. Pain can also be felt during penetration, making it difficult or impossible to have intercourse. In some cases, pain during sex can lead to involuntary muscle spasms or tightening in the vaginal or pelvic area, making sexual activity even more uncomfortable.

For the men, pain during sex can feel like a burning or stinging sensation, especially if there is not enough lubrication or if there is an underlying medical condition such as Peyronie’s disease or prostatitis. Pain can also be felt during ejaculation or after orgasm, making sexual activity less enjoyable and potentially leading to performance anxiety.

Emotional pain during sex can feel like guilt, shame, anxiety, or fear. These emotions can be the result of past trauma or abuse, negative body image, or relationship issues. Emotional pain can make it difficult to engage in sexual activity, leading to a loss of interest in sex or even avoidance of sexual encounters altogether.

Pain during sex is not normal and should not be ignored.

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