What Does It Mean When Sex Is Painful?

“Something is wrong!”

Sexual Intercourse

What Does It MeanSexual intercourse is also known as coitus and copulation. There are a plethora of street names for this biological function. It is the penetration and thrusting of the penis in the vagina which normally culminates in orgasm, an intense sexual pleasure. This is the anticipated outcome of sexual intercourse.


Persistent or recurrent painful sexual intercourse is called dyspareunia. This can cause problems in a couple’s sexual intimacy and threaten the union all together. There is usually either a medical issue or a psychological cause. Dyspareunia is far more common in women than men and can occur during or after sexual intercourse. The pain can be experienced in the vagina, clitoris, labia or deeper in the pelvis when there is pressure placed on the cervix. Once the underlying problem is diagnosed and treated, painful intercourse can be alleviated.

Medical Causes

  • Dryness

The vagina is naturally lubricated by the body as a defense against infection and injury. Once an individual is sexually aroused, there is extra production of lubrication to facilitate the act of coitus and minimize bruising. Typically, a woman experiences vaginal dryness as she ages and the insufficient lubrication results in pain with potential bleeding during the sexual act.

  • Anatomic anomalies

Congenital (birth defects) deformities or acquired deformities of the genitalia or pelvic organs as a result of injuries.

  • Infection

The moisture and warmth in the vaginal joint can promote the overgrowth of bacteria or fungus (yeast infections are fairly common). The infection and resulting inflammation of the vaginal mucosa can result in painful sex if intercourse is attempted. Sexually transmitted infections are a huge contributor to painful coitus.

  • Endometriosis

The tissue of the uterus (womb) can grow outside of the womb. This can result in pain usually related to the menstrual cycle.

  • Fibroids

These are benign tumors which can occur in the uterus. Undue pressure on the pelvic area or deep thrusting during coitus can result in pain.

  • Ovarian cyst

Cyst on the ovary can reach massive sizes and result in undue pressure on pelvic organs which is painful.

  • Pelvic Congestion Syndrome

Chronic infection and inflammation of the pelvic organ can result in this very painful condition. Obviously, sexual intercourse cannot be tolerated during an acute flare-up.

  • Menopause

Menopause signals an end to the reproductive phase of a woman’s life. The hormones which control fertility also keeps the vaginal lubricated. With menopause comes the drastic decrease in these hormones.  Vaginal dryness and decreased libido can make sexual intercourse painful and not at all pleasurable.

Psychological Causes

Vaginismus is the involuntary contraction of the vaginal muscles which usually triggered by fear or anxiety. When this spasm occurs, penetration during sexual intercourse is impossible. This is sometimes associated with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Tips to resolve painful sex

  • Foreplay
  • Vaginal lubricant
  • Treatment of the infection
  • Surgically removing fibroids and cysts
  • Hormonal (estrogen) therapy
  • Exploring different coital positions
  • Couple’s therapy with a sexologist

A word on Dyspareunia in Men

Dyspareunia is not at all common in men. Guys can experience pain in the testicles or penis in the area of the glans after ejaculation. Common causes are prostatitis, urethritis, STIs, Peyronie’s disease (painful retraction due to the foreskin being too tight), and Frenulum breve (tension in a short and slender frenulum).

These conditions should not be ignored as they can be resolved with antibiotics in the case of an infection and minor surgery with respect to Peyronie’s disease and Frenulum breve.

Dyspareunia, whether in men or women, can be significantly resolved. Take the first step by making an appointment to see your doctor.

Readers Bureau,Contributor

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