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 the already complicated periods day-to-day life, dyspareunia can be very disabling for women, disrupting their sexuality. In some cases, it makes vaginal penetration so painful that it's 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 forms:

  • burning sensations
  • tingling sensations
  • 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 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, and 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 periods pain?

When it comes to diagnosingendometriosis, dyspareunia and periods are related 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, there are many causes. They can stem from both physical and psychological factors.
Physical factors include the following disorders:

  • inflammations, such as those affecting the vulva (vestibulitis), the bladder (cystitis), the urethra (urethritis), the fallopian tubes (salpingitis) or the vagina (vaginitis)
  • gynaecological infections such as vaginal mycoses, or certain STIs/MSTs
  • varicose veins in the pelvic region
  • pelvic tumor
  • certain abnormalities of the pelvic floor (especially 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
  • lack of arousal and vaginal dryness
  • trauma related to a bad sexual experience or sexual trauma
  • the fear of pain

How is dyspareunia treated?

It's not normal to feel 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 penetrations just before your periods, 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 care 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 advice if in doubt?

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


Dyspareunia FAQs

How to recognize dyspareunia?

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

How can dyspareunia be treated naturally?

Treatments are available to relieve 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 causes, physiotherapy or drug treatments are more appropriate.


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