Dyspareunia: understanding and treating pain during intercourse

Do you suffer from pain during intercourse? Dyspareunia is pain during intercourse. There can be many causes. We tell you all about it in our dedicated article.

What is dyspareunia?

Dyspareunia refers to pain experienced during and after intercourse. In addition to painful periods, which are already complicated to cope with on a day-to-day basis, dyspareunia can be very disabling in the lives of women who suffer from it, disrupting their sexuality. In some cases, it makes vaginal penetration so painful that it is impossible. It is estimated that around 20% of women suffer from this condition. Dyspareunia can have multiple origins, both psychological and physical.

Dyspareunia is defined by its recurrent and systematic nature. Indeed, these pains are not isolated and occur with several partners.
Moreover, studies show that around 30% of women claim to have suffered during their previous sexual intercourse.

Its symptoms manifest themselves in different ways:

  • burningsensations
  • tinglingsensations
  • itching
  • contractures in the form of spasms

The difference between primary and secondary dyspareunia

A distinction is made between primary and secondary dyspareunia. The difference lies more in the location of the pain:
secondary dyspareunia is characterized by pain localized at thevaginal entrance, which occurs when an object or the penis is inserted
primary dyspareunia is characterized by deeper pain during penetration, throughout the pelvic area

Finally, global dyspareunia occurs with all sexual partners, while situational dyspareunia is felt only in certain situations or positions, or only with certain partners.

Sometimes, penetration is so impossible that we speak of vaginismus. These contractions are uncontrolled, even though there is no abnormality linked to the genitalia.

Is there a link between dyspareunia and painful periods?

When it comes to diagnosingendometriosis, dyspareunia and painful periods are linked symptoms. In fact, it's not uncommon for women with endometriosis to suffer from profound dyspareunia. More precisely, the discomfort is felt in the lower abdomen during penetrative intercourse. Dyspareunia is actually a sign of lesions located near the vagina and towards the recto-vaginal area. However, it's difficult to be certain of the cause of the lesions when suffering from dyspareunia, apart from menopause. The discomfort may well be linked to inflammation accompanying superficial endometriosis, or to severe adenomyosis.

What are the other causes of dyspareunia?

As mentioned above, dyspareunia has many origins. Dyspareunia can be caused by physical factors, but also by psychological ones.
Physical factors include the following disorders:

  • inflammations, such as vestibulitis of the vulva, cystitis of the bladder, urethritis of the urethra, salpingitis of the fallopian tubes, or vaginitis of the vagina
  • gynecological infections such as vaginal mycosis, or certain STIs/MSTs
  • varicose veins in the pelvic region
  • pelvic tumors
  • certain abnormalities of the pelvic floor (especially muscles, ligaments and tissues)
  • gynecological operations such as removal of the uterus, or medical examinations
  • allergies
  • gynaecological conditions such as endometriosis or adenomyosis

And among the factors of psychological origin, we can distinguish several problems:

  • stress and anxiety, leading to nervous tension
  • lack of arousal and vaginal dryness
  • trauma linked to a bad sexual experience or sexual trauma
  • fear of having just the right amount of pain

How can dyspareunia be treated?

It's not normal to be in pain. There are, of course, natural treatments available to cure these ailments. The first thing to do is to consult a gynaecologist or your GP to identify the causes, and then get the right treatment.

Psychotherapy can be considered, for example, if the cause is linked to traumatic events. For dyspareunia linked to anxiety or stress,homeopathy can help, as can daily relaxation techniques. You can also avoid penetration just before your period, or during premenstrual syndrome, when you'll be more sensitive.

For medical causes, particularly gynecological infections, you'll need to take medication.

Can dyspareunia be cured?

If you experience persistent pain during or after intercourse, you can seek advice from your health professional, who will help you determine the cause.
Treatment depends on the origin of the pain. There are many causes, and the first thing to do is toidentify them.

When should you seek medical advice?

If your pain persists and becomes systematic, it's important to consult a specialist. Despite what you might think, pain is not normal. The condition can cause both psychological and physical pain.

In short, dyspareunia is a disorder that can significantly affect a woman's sex life. Often, the pain experienced during intercourse can be linked to a variety of factors, both physical and psychological. Physical causes include infections, muscular problems, urinary disorders and vaginal dryness. These conditions can lead to burning, tingling or even itching sensations in the vagina or vulva, making intercourse very uncomfortable, if not impossible. Other physical factors such as the uterus, pelvic muscles or lesions in the vagina can also contribute to this disorder. In addition, medical conditions such as premenstrual syndrome or menopause can aggravate the symptoms of dyspareunia.

However, it's important to note that dyspareunia can also have psychological origins. Stress, anxiety, or even traumatic sexual experiences can play a role in the development of this disorder. Diagnosing dyspareunia often requires a consultation with a doctor, usually a gynecologist, who can assess symptoms and recommend a suitable treatment plan. Treatment may include the use of lubricants, relaxation techniques, or even therapy to help resolve underlying psychological issues. In conclusion, dyspareunia is a complex disorder that can have a significant impact on a woman's sexual and emotional life. It is essential to seek appropriate diagnosis and treatment to relieve pain and improve overall quality of life.

Dyspareunia FAQ

How to recognize dyspareunia?

Dyspareunia is characterized by discomfort during or after intercourse. Sometimes the pain is so intense that penetration is simply prevented. Secondary dyspareunia occurs when the pain is only localized at the vaginal entrance, and primary dyspareunia when the pain is deeper.

How can dyspareunia be treated naturally?

There are a number of treatments available to relieve symptoms. The treatment chosen will depend on the cause of the dyspareunia. There are, for example, more natural treatments based on psychotherapy or sex therapy if the causes are psychological. For physical origins, physiotherapy or medicated treatments depending on the origin will be more suitable.

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