Painful sex is very common among women. 3 out of 4 women will experience painful intercourse at  some  time in their lives. It is a temporary problem for some women and for others it may be long term.


Painful sex may be due to a gynecological problem such as endometriosis. For others it may be due to sexual problems such as lack of sexual desire or lack of arousal.
painful sex


The pain may be felt in the vulva which is the area surrounding the opening of the vagina or within the vagina. You may also experience  pain  at the lower back,  pelvic region, uterus or bladder.


What gynecological problems cause painful sex ?


Painful intercourse may be the cause of many gynecological problems, such of which include :

  • vaginitis which is inflammation of the vagina
  • hormonal changes which may occur during perimenopause or menopause. Decreased  levels of the female hormone estrogen may cause vaginal dryness which can make intercourse painful
  • skin disorders that can cause ulcers to the vulva can also cause this problem . An example is contact dematitis.
  • childbirth can cause painful sex when you experience an episiotomy or tear in the perineum during childbirth
  • vulvodynia  which is a pain disorder that affects the vulva
  • vaginismus is tightening of the muscles at the opening of the vagina. This can cause painful intercourse

What are the causes of sexual response disorder ?


Some of the common reasons are the following

  • relationship problems can interfere with sexual response
  • state of mind such as fear, guilt , shame or embarrassment can make it difficult for you to relax during interourse
  • certain medications can reduce your sexual desire
  • medical and surgical conditions  can indirectly have an effect on sexual response . This includes cancer, diabetes and thyroid conditions
  • if your partner has a sexual problem such as erectile dysfunction , he may have delayed orgasm which may cause pain during sex

When should i contact my doctor ?


You should contact your doctor when you have severe or frequent pain during intercourse. He will rule out any medical conditions that are causing your problems.


How to deal with painful sex ?


You should see your health car provider if you are experiencing  painful intercourse. However some self care measures can also help.

  • use lubricants . Do not use petroleum jelly, mineral oil or  baby oil with condoms. They dissolve the latex and cause breakage of the condom
  • let your partner know activities that increases your pleasure. You should also let him know when or where you feel pain
  • make time for sex. Choose a time when neither of you is tired or anxious
  • Try sensual activities such as a massage
  • emptying your bladder, taking a warm bath or taking over the counter pain reliever before sex can help
  • you can relieve burning after intercourse by  applying ice or frozen gel pack wrapped in a small towel to the vulva


Content Sources
When sex is painful. the American Academy of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Accessed March 12, 2016

Painful sex in women. WebMD. Accessed March 12, 2016

Painful intercourse for women. Emedcine. Accessed March 12, 2016

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