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Pain During Intercourse May Be a Sign of Underlying Conditions | 4 Causes of Dyspareunia

Pain During Intercourse May Be a Sign of Underlying Conditions | 4 Causes of Dyspareunia

It is important to talk about sexual health. Awareness is the first step.

Physical intimacy, in reality, is often very different from the way it is represented in movies. In truth, intercourse isn't always pleasurable or easy. But it needn't remain so. Women, especially, have been conditioned to put their needs aside and talk as little about intercourse in general. This can lead to not just dissatisfaction but also painful intercourse also called dyspareunia.

What is dyspareunia?

According to Mayo Clinic, dyspareunia is the medical term for painful intercourse. If you feel pain at sexual entry (penetration), pain with every penetration, including putting in a tampon, deep pain during thrusting, burning pain or aching pain or throbbing pain, lasting hours after intercourse, then you might be suffering from this condition. And you're not alone in this. In a study published in the International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, it found that out of 8869 women between the ages of 16 and 74, 7.5% of sexually active women reported painful intercourse. 

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What are the causes?

“Pain during sex is quite common and can be caused by a variety of things,” explains Dr Vanessa Mackay, spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists to HuffPost UK. Some of the most common reasons include:

1. Lack of sexual arousal

This could be due to stress, tiredness, lack of emotional intimacy between you and your partner, or at the onset of menopause. Any mental or physical stress can impact sexual appetite as well. There could also be underlying health conditions or medications that impact the sex drive of an individual.

2. Vaginal dryness

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During arousal, there are glands at the entrance of your vagina that secrete a liquid to help reduce friction during intercourse, according to Medical News Today. If too little of this fluid is released, it can lead to painful intercourse. And this can be a result of a lack of foreplay, certain medications like that of antidepressants, antihistamines, and birth control pills as well as a drop in estrogen level. Consultant gynecologist Amanda Tozer explains in The Independent UK that this symptom is especially common amongst menopausal women: "This is because estrogen is no longer produced by the ovaries of women when they reach the menopause."

3. Vaginismus

The MSD Manuals describes this condition as an "involuntary contraction of muscles around the opening of the vagina in women with no abnormalities in the genital organs." Due to this tight muscle contraction, coitus can be painful when there is penetration involved. You might even experience pain when you insert a tampon or menstrual cup if you are diagnosed with this condition. 

4. Genital irritation or allergies

Dr Mackay explains that pain in the pelvis could also be a sign of inflammation, infection, or general irritation. Allergy to a particular soap, lubricant, or condom can lead to painful intercourse due to the irritation it causes. Less commonly though, conditions such as pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, fibroids, irritable bowel syndrome, or constipation can also result in discomfort or pain during intercourse. 

It is absolutely essential that you visit a specialist or doctor to find out the cause of pain. Professional help can not only help decrease pain and lead to better sex but also identify underlying health conditions.

What else did the study find?

Getty Images | Photo by Witthaya Prasongsin

The study found out that women who experience pain also face other issues in relationship and sex life. These are some of the other findings:

- 45.2% reported having an uncomfortably dry vagina, compared with 10.4% of women who did not have pain.

- 21% reported feeling anxious during sex, compared with 4%.

- 40% lacked enjoyment in sex, compared with 10%.

- 31% felt dissatisfied with their sex life, compared with 10%.

- 29% felt distressed or worried about their sex life, compared with 9%.

- 62% lacked interest in having sex, compared with 32%.

- 24% lacked arousal during sex, compared with 7%.

- 40% had difficulty reaching climax, compared with 14%.

- 45% avoided sex because of difficulties, compared with 11%.

Many women experience pain during intercourse. So if you do, you are not alone. Talking to your doctor about it is the first step. Chidera Eggerue, blogger and founder of the #SaggyBoobsMatter told the Independent UK, “When it comes to intimacy between men and women, the goal for the latter is to be as exciting as possible in order to impress your partner. But the sad and ironic thing is the guy is doing nothing to impress you because he’s been socialized to put himself first," she says. “So it completely makes sense that in a situation where a woman and a man have sex, there is a strong likelihood that she will compromise her needs.”

“We need to extend beyond the conversation regarding sex and involve autonomy,” she added. “Women need to feel comfortable taking control of their bodies and putting their wellbeing first.”

References:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/painful-intercourse/symptoms-causes/syc-20375967

https://obgyn.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/1471-0528.14518

https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/heres-why-you-might-be-experiencing-painful-sex-and-what-to-do-about-it_uk_5c5949cae4b09293b207b7d7?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAAYKVxRte0NOuvGrFmdtpiXV8Ay36kFsV0mES9hguWo02FyxMCHzRulBDYvC5GsFmKFp3LNCh9jyEwqavAjDFlOmp5wOOiRexsFpFNGgUkWUNLWFSSNB2Q0ogGR99IeItoR6wxzEXPMWxGLf0O9DwXrrorvL0_HkgilQAEyavOHF

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/192590#causes

https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/love-sex/painful-sex-discomfort-women-females-reasons-a8756821.html

https://www.msdmanuals.com/home/women-s-health-issues/sexual-dysfunction-in-women/vaginismus

Disclaimer : This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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