Painful intercourse or dyspareunia occurs for many women at some point in their lives. It is defined as persistent or returning pain that occurs before, during or after intercourse. Treatments generally focus on the underlying cause, which can be physical or psychological.
What are the symptoms and causes of intercourse pain?
The pain associated with intercourse can be felt in different places and at different times of intercourse.
- Pain only at the time of penetration
- Pain with certain partners or just under certain circumstances
- New pain after previously pain-free intercourse
- Deep pain during thrusting, often described as a stabbing pain
- Burning pain or aching pain after intercourse
In consultation with one of the FBW staff, possible causes of dyspareunia will be explored.
These can include:
- Insufficient lubrication – due to not enough foreplay, a decline in oestrogen levels, or certain medications.
- Injury or irritation from an accident
- Female circumcision
- Pelvic or vaginal surgery
- Pathological causes – Such as endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, uterine prolapse, cystitis, or irritable bowel syndrome.
- Anxiety and depression
- Fear of intimacy or relationship problems
- Stress – Pelvic floor muscles may tighten in response to stress in life.
What treatments are available to relieve intercourse pain?
Depending on the situation, one or more treatments may be implemented to help you relieve your pain.
- Medications – Oestrogen cream or ordinary vegetable oil are the best lubricants as other lubricants could have alcohol / preservatives which may act as an irritant.
- Therapy – Desensitisation therapy / counselling or sex therapy
- Drugs – Depending on the underlying problem antibiotics or some anti-epileptic drugs may be used.
- Surgery – reversal of scarring or laparoscopic surgery including excision of endometriosis, removal of ovarian cyst, removal of the fibroids, etc.
- At home remedies – switch positions, longer foreplay and use of lubricants can reduce pain temporarily
- Sensual massage, kissing and mutual masturbation can also be good alternatives to intercourse if pain persists.