Dyspareunia is a recurrent pain that can happen during sexual intercourse. You can experience pain in the genital area or near the pelvis. The pain can be sharp for some, and most others experience mild pain. It may occur before you start with the intercourse or during the act, which can be uncomfortable for you and your partner. Causes may vary and lead to relationship issues in the future.
A] What Causes Dyspareunia?
1. Vaginal Dryness
Most women experience vaginal dryness due to menopause and childbirth. Breastfeeding and medications are also two possible causes of Dyspareunia. If you experience little arousal before the sexual act, it might cause pain in the vagina. Vaginal dryness feels sore and itchy, so when there is a sexual act, it may cause immense pain for some women. Reduced estrogen levels in the body can cause vaginal dryness.
2. Skin Disorders
If you have sensitive skin, you may suffer from skin disorders. Skin disorders may cause burning, itching, and inflammation in the vaginal area. The cause can be related to an infection, and at times, most women suffer from allergy problems. With skin disorders, you might suffer from pain during the sexual act. At times, vaginal rashes can cause pain during the act.
3. Vaginal Infections
Most women suffer from yeast infections or urinary tract infections. Candida fungus causes yeast infections that cause inflammation and intense itchiness in the vaginal area. It is more common in women than men as the bacteria in the urinary tract causes it. It may cause pelvic pain and an increased urge to urinate. You may also suffer from back pain and vaginal pain during UTIs.
4. Problems with the Uterus
You can experience pain in the vagina and uterus due to fibroids. Fibroids are non-cancerous uterus growth that often appears during the childbearing years. Problems with the uterus can cause heavy bleeding, pelvic pain, and prolonged inflammation. The pain in the vaginal area can intensify after having sexual intercourse. Most women experience stress during this phase and may need emotional support.
It is a painful condition in which the tissue inside the line of the uterus grows outside the uterus, and on other organs inside the body – fallopian tubes, ovaries, or intestines. You might experience menstrual irregularities and pain in the vaginal area, which may increase while having sexual intercourse. Some women also experience pelvic pain and muscle cramping during intercourse. Urinary disorders are common in the condition of Endometriosis.
6. Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Many types of sexually transmitted diseases cause genital herpes and other vaginal infections. The infection is a result of sexual contact, caused by bacteria or a virus. You may experience a vaginal discharge with a strong vaginal odour, and some women experience vaginal irritation or itching. Most suffer from intense vaginal pain after intercourse or during a sexual act.
7. Intercourse After Surgery
Taking care after a surgical process is not only important for physical healing but also emotional healing. If you have intercourse after surgery, it may cause vaginal pain. Most women also experience intense pain in the vagina after childbirth so refraining from sexual activity. Unless you don’t recover completely, don’t indulge in sexual intercourse. You might also experience vaginal bleeding if you have intercourse immediately after childbirth.
The condition refers to chronic pain in the woman’s external sexual organ – the vulva – which includes the vaginal opening, labia, and clitoris. The pain may occur in one single spot or radiate in different areas from time to time. There is no cause for this condition, but it might cause immense pain when you have sexual intercourse with your partner. Self-care and medications may reduce the pain.
9. Uterine Fibroids
Fibroids are abnormal growth that develops in the woman’s uterus. Sometimes, they may become large, which causes immense pain and heavy periods. The growth may differ according to a woman’s body type. Hormonal imbalance and pregnancy are two causes, which can cause uterine fibroids in women. It can cause pelvic pain and lower back pain. You may also experience pain during intercourse and at times severe discomfort.
The condition causes an inflamed bladder. In most cases, cystitis is a cause of urinary tract infection. It happens when the bacteria enter the bladder and begin to multiply. You may feel the urge to urinate and may experience bladder fullness. Most women also experience pain in the vagina during sexual intercourse. You may also experience muscle cramps or lower back pain.
11. Anxiety and Stress
Anxiety causes so many problems in the body, and pain during sexual intercourse is a common problem. When your body is stressed or suffers from anxiety, it reduces the ability to become aroused. It results in tightened muscles of the pelvic floor. Stress causes many other emotional outbursts that affect your sexual relationship with your partner. Self-image or body issues can cause pain at times.
Further Reading: What Causes Vaginal Swelling and How Is It Treated?
B] Symptoms of Dyspareunia
Bleeding After Intercourse
Mild pain after intercourse is normal. But, if there is bleeding, it may be a cause of concern. Especially, after menopause, if there is vaginal bleeding, you will have to visit your obstetrician or gynecologist. Most women also experience vaginal pain after penetration. Prolonged pain is a sign of some serious infection. Once you know the possible cause, it becomes easy to find a possible treatment.
Difficulty or Pain in Urination
Decreased estrogen levels may cause thinning of the vaginal walls. The condition is known as vaginal atrophy. It increases the risk of vaginal infections and UTIs. Its symptoms include an urgent need to urinate or pain during urination. When you experience a painful burning sensation during urination, you might be suffering from a vaginal infection. Consult with a specialist to get it treated.
You Are Afraid of Sex
Sex is normal and healthy in a relationship. But if you are afraid of sex, it may cause pain in the vagina. At times, constant pain can turn into a source of anxiety. Pelvic floor muscles tighten as a cause of stress. If you are scared of sex, try talking to your partner or a doctor. Once the fear goes away, it may improve your sexual relations with your partner.
Excess Pain in the Vagina
If every time you have intercourse with your partner and experience pain, you need to consider treatment. The cause can be any of the ones mentioned above. Some lubricants and vaginal creams are effective in treating pain. At times, you may also experience vaginal dryness with pain. Itching and burning around the vulva and vaginal tightness can accompany the pain.
C] Dyspareunia Diagnosis
Your doctor may ask you about your medical history and will carry out a pelvic examination. You should be able to explain the location, length, and timing of the pain. Some doctors may also ask about your reproductive health and sexual history. During the pelvic examination, your doctor may check for signs of abnormalities. Pelvic ultrasound may help to detect structural abnormalities or other conditions.
Further reading:Vaginal Pain: Causes and Treatment
D] Dyspareunia Treatment
The treatment of Dyspareunia or painful intercourse depends on the condition. If the pain is due to an underlying vaginal infection, the doctor may treat it using medications. The doctor may prescribe anti-fungal medicines and antibiotics. If long-term medications cause vaginal dryness, you can get your prescription changed. Some doctors also prescribe estrogen-free drugs to treat pelvic pain during sex.
To reduce pain during sexual intercourse, try using water-soluble lubricants. Ensure that you and your partner are completely relaxed and communicate openly with your partner if you feel any pain. You can also take a warm bath to relax your vaginal muscles. Take an over the counter pain reliever or apply an ice pack to the vulva to calm down the burning sensation.
Your doctor may recommend certain alternate therapies that can include – sex therapy or desensitization. You will learn vaginal relaxation techniques in desensitization such as kegel – it’s effective in reducing the vaginal pain caused by sex. In sex therapy, you will be given tips to increase communication with your partner or re-establish your sexual intimacy. Both therapies can help reduce pain during the sexual act.
If you are interested in learning more about Dyspareunia treatments, reach out to us. We can help you get started with the treatments by conducting necessary sexual health testing, and also provide you with valuable information on various Dyspareunia treatments we have available.
Painful sexual intercourse is not something you need to learn to live with. If you’re dealing with the condition, find out about the possible causes. Once you know what is causing the pain, stick to a treatment option. In most cases, medications and alternative therapies can reduce pain.
Talking about sex is difficult, but you will have to be proactive and speak to your doctor about it. Communicate with your partner and come to terms with the condition, as a good sexual relationship can increase bonding between you and your partner.
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