Dyspareunia: understanding and treating pain during sex

Do you suffer from pain during sexual intercourse? Dyspareunia corresponds to pain felt during sexual intercourse. The causes can be multiple. We talk about it in our dedicated article.

What is dyspareunia?

Dyspareunia refers to pain felt during and after sexual intercourse. In addition to the painful periods that are already complicated to live with on a daily basis, they can be very disabling in the lives of women who suffer from them and disturb their sexuality. Sometimes it makes vaginal penetration impossible because it is so painful. It is estimated that about 20% of women suffer from it. The origins of dyspareunia can be multiple, both psychological and physical.

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

Its symptoms are manifested in different forms:

  • burningsensations
  • sensations of tingling
  • itching
  • contractures in the form of spasms

The difference between primary and secondary dyspareunia

There are several forms: primary dyspareunia, but also secondary dyspareunia. The difference is rather in the location of the pain:
secondary dyspareunia is characterized rather by localized pain at theentrance of the vagina, which occurs during the insertion of an object or the penis
primary dyspareunia as for it is characterized by deeper pain during penetration, in the entire pelvic area

Finally, we speak of global dyspareunia when they occur with all sexual partners and situational dyspareunia when they are 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 related to the genitals.

Is there a link between dyspareunia and painful periods?

In the context of a diagnosis ofendometriosis, dyspareunia and painful periods are related symptoms. In fact, it is not uncommon for women with endometriosis to experience profound dyspareunia. Specifically, the discomfort is felt in the lower abdomen during penetrative sex. Dyspareunia is actually a sign of the lesions located near the vagina and towards the recto-vaginal area. However, it is difficult to be certain of the cause of the lesions when suffering from dyspareunia, apart from menopause. The discomfort may very well be related to inflammation accompanying superficial endometriosis, or to severe adenomyosis.

What are the other causes of dyspareunia?

As previously mentioned, there are many causes. It can result from physical factors, but also from psychological factors.
Among the physical factors, we can distinguish the following disorders:

  • inflammations, those affecting the vulva such as vestibulitis, the bladder such as cystitis, the urethra with urethritis, salpingitis when it affects the uterine tubes, or vaginitis when it is located in the vagina
  • gynecological infections such as vaginal mycosis, or certain STIs
  • varicose veins located in the pelvic region
  • a pelvic tumor
  • certain abnormalities in the pelvic floor (especially in the muscles, ligaments and tissues)
  • gynecological operations such as removal of the uterus, or medical examinations
  • an allergy
  • gynecological conditions such as endometriosis or adenomyosis


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

  • stress and anxiety, causing nervous tension
  • a lack of excitement and vaginal dryness
  • trauma related to a bad sexual experience or a sexual trauma
  • Fear of being in pain

How can dyspareunia be treated?

It is not normal to be in pain. There are, of course, natural treatments to cure these ailments. First of all, you should consult a gynecologist or your doctor to identify the causes and then have the appropriate treatment.

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

For medical causes, especially gynecological infections, you will need to adopt a drug treatment.

Can dyspareunia be cured?

If you experience persistent pain during or after sexual intercourse, you can seek advice from your health care professional, who will help you determine the cause.
The treatment depends on the origin of the pain. There are many causes, the first task will be toidentify them.

When should I consult a doctor if I am not sure?

If your pain persists and becomes systematic, it is important to consult. In fact, despite what you might think, having pain is not normal. The disease can cause psychological as well as physical pain.

The FAQ of dyspareunia

How to recognize dyspareunia?

Dyspareunia is characterized by discomfort during or after sexual intercourse. The pain is sometimes so intense that it simply prevents penetration. We speak of secondary dyspareunia when the pain is only localized at the entrance of the vagina, and primary dyspareunia when the pain is deeper.

How to treat dyspareunia naturally?

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

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