There are a number of different reasons that people have sex and it’s probably safe to say that vaginal pain isn’t one of them. Still, for many women, intercourse can bring with it a host of discomforts with The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) estimating that nearly 3 out of 4 women experience painful intercourse at some point in their lives [1].

For some women, pain during intercourse might be a short-term problem caused by stress or lack of desire, for other women it can be a long-term problem caused by certain conditions or medications.

Some common causes of pain during intercourse include:

  • Infection
  • Vaginismus
  • Certain illnesses or conditions
  • Medical treatments
  • Psychological factors

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What causes pain during sex in women?


Pain during sex, known as dyspareunia in medical terms, refers to persistent genital pain after or during sex. If you experience pain during penetration (that includes when inserting a tampon), a burning or aching pain during sex, or throbbing pain that lasts after sexual intercourse, it’s important to listen to your body and find out the cause.


Infection


An infection in the genital area can be the cause of pain during intercourse. When common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as chlamydia or gonorrhea go untreated, it can cause inflammation which would cause deep pain during sex.

If you suspect that you have contracted an STI, it’s important to get tested so you can get treated early and avoid any complications. You can do this by taking a visit to your doctor or from home with LetsGetChecked’s range of at-home sexual health tests.

Related article: Does Chlamydia Cause Long-Term Damage?


Vaginismus


Vaginismus is the body’s sudden reaction to vaginal penetration, causing the vaginal muscles to tighten up when anything is inserted; this can occur during intercourse or even during a pelvic exam with your healthcare provider. Some of the most common causes include having a bad sexual experience or having a painful medical condition such as thrush.

It’s important to speak with your doctor if you think the cause of painful intercourse is vaginismus. Remember, you can always ask for a female doctor if it makes you feel more comfortable and bring someone along with you for support.

Related article: Living With Vaginismus


Certain illnesses or conditions


There are a number of illnesses and conditions which can make sexual intercourse painful, these include:

  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • Endometriosis
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Uterine fibroids

Make sure to speak with your healthcare provider if you are experiencing deep pain during sex which may be a result of a specific condition.

Related article: Irritable Bowel Syndrome Diet: What is the Best Diet for IBS?


Medical treatments


There are pelvic surgeries that can cause scarring such as a hysterectomy, which can make sex uncomfortable and painful. There are also treatments that can cause pain during sex such as radiation and chemotherapy.

If medical treatments or surgeries have caused painful intercourse, speak with your doctor who will be able to offer advice and support. According to Mayo Clinic, changing positions and using lubricants may also help reduce any pain [2].


Psychological factors


Remember, our emotions are connected to sexual activity so if you have a fear of intimacy, are feeling stressed, or are experiencing relationship issues, it can affect your level of arousal or cause vaginal dryness which can ultimately cause painful intercourse.

It’s important to have open communication with your partner if you think psychological factors may be the cause of the pain. You can also choose to speak with your healthcare provider for advice on coping with stress or anxiety.

Related article: Five Signs of Stress: How Stress Affects Your Body


How to deal with vaginal pain during sex


If you’re experiencing pain during sex it’s important to speak with your doctor who will be able to offer you support, guidance, and medical advice. While many people may find it difficult to speak with their doctor about their sexual health, it’s important to remember that they are there to help!

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), there are also some steps you can take to potentially lessen the sexual pain you feel, including:

  • Using lubricant
  • Communicating with your partner
  • Trying other sexual activities that don’t involve penetration

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Buy an At-Home Sexual Health Test

Test and treat your sexual health from home with our range of at-home STD tests.


One of the most common causes of pain during sex is sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, or herpes. It’s important to check in on your sexual health regularly to avoid any potential complications. This can be done with your doctor or from home with LetsGetChecked’s range of at-home sexual health tests.

LetsGetChecked’s range of STI Tests allows you to detect some of the most common infections from the comfort of home. Online results will be available within 2-5 days and our dedicated medical team will be available every step of the way to answer any questions you may have regarding the process, results, or treatment.

You should consider taking a test if:

  • You become sexually active
  • You have had unprotected sex
  • You are experiencing symptoms of a sexually transmitted infection
  • You are entering into a new sexual relationship
  • You have received a notification from a previous partner that they are infected

Related article: How do You Check For STIs From Home?


References


  1. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. When Sex is Painful. Online: Acog.org
  2. Mayo Clinic. Painful intercourse (dyspareunia). Online: Mayoclinic.org