Painful Intercourse – Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis And Treatment
What is Dyspareunia?
Is it normal to have pain during sex?
Painful intercourse is a common problem that affects up to 20% of women at some point in their lives. However, due to the presence of the sensitive nature of the condition, many women may not seek medical help and may continue to suffer in silence. Women must discuss pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse with their healthcare provider to determine the underlying cause and appropriate treatment options.
Types of Pain Feel During Intercourse
There are different types of painful intercourse that women may experience. Some of the common types of dyspareunia include:
- Surface pain: This type of pain is felt in the external parts of the genitalia, such as the vulva or the opening of the vagina. It can be caused by skin irritation, inflammation, or infection.
- Entry Pain: Deep pain is felt deep inside the vagina or pelvic region during penetration. It can be caused by endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, or ovarian cysts.
Treatment for painful intercourse depends on the underlying cause and may include medication, physical therapy, counseling, or surgery. Women must seek medical help if they experience pain or discomfort during intercourse to determine the cause and appropriate treatment options.
What are the Various Dyspareunia Symptoms?
- Burning or itching sensation in the genital area.
- Bleeding or spotting during or after intercourse.
- Vaginal dryness or irritation.
- Discomfort or pain during tampon insertion.
- Pain or discomfort with non-sexual activities such as sitting or wearing tight clothing.
Why is Intercourse Painful?
Painful intercourse causes can vary depending on the individual and their underlying health conditions. However, some of the pain during intercourse causes in women include:
- Vaginal dryness: This is a common cause of painful intercourse in women, particularly during menopause. Decreased estrogen levels can cause the vaginal tissues to become dry and thin, leading to vaginal pain during sex and discomfort during penetration.
- Infections: Vaginal infections such as yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, or sexually transmitted infections can cause pain and discomfort during intercourse.
- Endometriosis: It is a condition where the tissue that has the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus, causing pain and discomfort during intercourse.
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of the reproductive organs that can cause pain during intercourse.
- Ovarian cysts: Cysts on the ovaries can cause pain during intercourse, particularly if they rupture or cause inflammation.
- Vulvodynia: This chronic condition causes pain and discomfort in the vulva. Women with vulvodynia may experience pain during intercourse or even with non-sexual activities such as sitting or wearing tight clothing.
Causes of Painful Intercourse in Men
In men, painful intercourse can be caused by various factors, including infections, inflammation of the prostate gland, Peyronie’s disease (a condition that causes the penis to curve during an erection), and certain medications. Both men and women need to seek medical help if they experience pain or discomfort during intercourse to determine the cause and appropriate treatment options.
How to Diagnose?
Diagnosing painful intercourse involves a thorough medical evaluation and assessment of the individual’s medical history, symptoms, and physical examination. The healthcare provider will ask about the pain’s frequency, duration, and location, as well as any associated symptoms such as bleeding, itching, or discharge. The provider may also ask about the individual’s sexual history and practices.
In addition to a physical exam, the healthcare provider may perform tests to help diagnose the underlying cause of painful intercourse. These tests may include the following:
- Pelvic exam: It is a physical examination of the reproductive organs to check for signs of infection, inflammation, or abnormalities.
- Pap smear: It is a test to screen for cervical cancer or other abnormalities in the cervix.
Cultures: Cultures may be taken to check for infections or sexually transmitted infections.
- Blood tests: These tests may be done to check for hormonal imbalances, such as those associated with menopause.
- Imaging tests: Ultrasound or MRI may be done to check for abnormalities in the reproductive organs, such as ovarian cysts or endometriosis.
- Allergy testing: Allergy testing may be done to determine if an allergic reaction to certain products, such as lubricants or condoms, is causing the pain.
- Psychological evaluation: A psychological assessment may be done to assess for any underlying psychological factors, such as anxiety or depression, contributing to the pain.
The specific tests done will depend on the individual’s symptoms and medical history and may vary from person to person. It is important to discuss any concerns or questions with the healthcare provider during the evaluation process.
Treatment Option Available for Painful Intercourse
- Vaginal lubricants: Over-the-counter or prescription vaginal lubricants can help reduce discomfort during intercourse in women with vaginal dryness.
- Topical estrogen: Estrogen creams, tablets, or rings can help increase vaginal lubrication and improve the elasticity of vaginal tissues, reducing intercourse pain in women with low estrogen levels.
- Pelvic floor physical therapy: This type of therapy involves exercises and techniques to strengthen the pelvic muscles, reduce muscle tension, and improve pelvic floor function, which can help reduce pain during intercourse.
- Medications: Medications to reduce pain during intercourse, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can help relieve pain associated with painful intercourse.
Surgical treatments:Surgery to correct anatomical abnormalities or conditions such as endometriosis or ovarian cysts may be necessary in some cases. Surgery to repair pelvic floor muscles or treat conditions such as prolapse may also help improve pain and burn during and after intercourse. It is important to note that any treatment for painful intercourse should be tailored to the individual and their specific needs. It is recommended to seek medical advice before trying new treatments or medications. In addition to medical treatments, counseling or therapy may be recommended to address any underlying psychological factors contributing to painful sex for women, such as anxiety, depression, or past trauma.
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Related Health Conditions
Painful intercourse may be a symptom of several underlying health conditions. Here are some related health conditions that may cause painful intercourse:
- Vaginal infections: Vaginal infections such as yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can cause vaginal irritation, inflammation, and pain during intercourse.
- Endometriosis: Endometriosis is a condition in which the tissue that has the lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterus, causing pain in uterus during intercourse and other symptoms such as pelvic pain and heavy periods.
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID): PID is an infection of the reproductive organs, usually caused by sexually transmitted bacteria. It can cause inflammation, scarring, and pain during intercourse.
- Vulvodynia: Vulvodynia is a condition characterized by chronic pain or discomfort in the vulva without an obvious cause. It can cause pain during intercourse and other symptoms such as burning, itching, or stinging in the genital area.
- Menopause: Menopause is a natural process in which the ovaries stop producing estrogen, leading to changes in the vaginal tissues that can cause dryness, thinning, and pain during intercourse.
It is important to seek medical advice to determine the underlying cause of painful intercourse, as treatment options may vary depending on the specific condition.
While it is important to seek medical advice for painful intercourse, some self-care measures can help manage the symptoms and improve overall sexual health:
- Use lubricants: Vaginal dryness can cause pain during intercourse. Using some water-based lubricants can help reduce friction and discomfort.
- Practice relaxation techniques: Stress and anxiety can contribute to muscle tension and pain during intercourse. Practicing relaxation techniques which include deep breathing, meditation, or yoga, can help reduce stress and promote relaxation.
- Communicate with your partner: Open and honest communication about your pain and discomfort can help reduce anxiety and tension during sexual activity.
- Opt for an annual well-women exam: Regular gynecological exams can help detect and treat any underlying health conditions contributing to painful intercourse.
- Get support with menopause awareness: If menopause is the underlying cause of painful intercourse, seeking support and information on painful intercourse after menopause can help you better manage symptoms such as vaginal dryness and discomfort.
It is important to note that while self-care measures can be helpful, they should not replace medical advice or treatment. If you are experiencing persistent pain during sexual intercourse, seeking medical advice from a healthcare provider is recommended.
When To See a Doctor
It is recommended that you immediately see a doctor if you experience persistent or severe pain during intercourse. Painful intercourse can be a symptom of an underlying health condition that requires medical attention. Here are some specific situations when it is important to seek medical advice:
Pain during every sexual encounter
If you experience pain during every sexual encounter, it is recommended to seek medical advice. This may indicate an underlying health condition that requires treatment.
Pain that lasts after intercourse
Experience pain that lasts after intercourse. It may indicate an underlying health condition, such as an infection or inflammation.
Bleeding after intercourse
If you experience bleeding after intercourse, it is recommended to seek medical advice. This may indicate the presence of an underlying health condition such as a sexually transmitted infection or cervical cancer.
New onset of painful intercourse
If you have previously had pain-free intercourse but have recently experienced pain, it is recommended to seek medical advice. This may indicate a new underlying health condition or change in your body.
Pain during pelvic exams or tampon use
If you experience pain during pelvic exams or tampon use, it is recommended to seek medical advice. This may also indicate an underlying health condition such as vaginismus or pelvic inflammatory disease.
It is important to seek medical advice to determine the underlying cause of painful intercourse and receive appropriate treatment.
Get Help from Ongo Care
Ongo Care is a telemedicine platform that can help individuals experiencing painful intercourse in several ways:
- Convenient access to healthcare professionals: With Ongo Care, individuals can consult with healthcare professionals from their homes. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals who may feel embarrassed or uncomfortable discussing their symptoms in a person.
- Medical advice and treatment: Ongo Care’s healthcare professionals can provide medical advice and treatment options for individuals experiencing painful intercourse. They can also refer individuals to a specialist if necessary.
- Prescriptions: If medication is required to treat the underlying condition causing painful intercourse, Ongo Care’s healthcare professionals can provide prescriptions that can be filled at a local pharmacy.
- Follow-up care: Ongo Care’s healthcare professionals can provide follow-up care and monitor progress to ensure that the treatment plan is effective.
- Confidentiality: Ongo Care values patient privacy and conducts all consultations in a private and secure environment.
In summary, Ongo Care can provide convenient access to healthcare professionals, medical advice and treatment, prescriptions, follow-up care, and confidentiality for individuals experiencing painful intercourse.
Frequently Asked Questions
What helpful things can I try before talking to a gynecologist online?
Some helpful things to try before talking to a gynecologist online include using water-based lubricants, practicing relaxation techniques, communicating with your partner, and opting for an annual well-women exam.
What are the various related health conditions? List them and provide their other name?
- Vaginismus – Also known as (Vaginism)
- Vulvodynia – Also known as (Vulvar pain)
- Pelvic Inflammatory disease – Also known as (Pelvic infection)
- Uterine fibroids – Also known as (Uterine myoma)
- Ovarian cysts – Also known as (Cystic ovarian mass)
How a healthcare provider help me provide the best solution?
A healthcare provider can help provide the best solution by conducting a thorough medical history and physical exam, ordering diagnostic tests if needed, and developing a personalized treatment plan based on the underlying cause of painful intercourse.