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Does sex hurt during or after intercourse? 

Dyspareunia

Painful intercourse is termed as dyspareunia and refers to the constant or on again, off again, pain in the genital area during, after, or right before intercourse. It can occur externally (vulva), internally (vaginal canal), or deep in the pelvis.

Dyspareunia can be diagnosed when there is pain during penetration, newly realized pain after sex, and/or burning, aching, and throbbing pain lasting long after intercourse is over. These pains can be associated with lack of proper lubrication during sex, past irritation from infections or history of surgery, past abuse, vaginismus, or congenital abnormalities.

How many women experience painful sex?

Dyspareunia is a common condition. It occurs in about 10-20% of women in the United States.

What are the symptoms?

The hallmark symptom of dyspareunia is pain with intercourse. Feelings of burning or tearing may also occur in the vagina, and a throbbing or pulsating sensation might occur in the lower pelvis.

Endometriosis, scar tissue, and prior traumatic birth can all cause painful sex. Hormonal imbalance and menopause can also lead to painful intercourse.

Treatment Options

There are a variety of treatment options for dyspareunia. Treatment will target the underlying cause.

Depending on the source of dyspareunia, treatment options can include:

  • Vaginal suppositories
  • Hormones
  • Oral medications
  • Co2 laser therapy
  • Radiofrequency and microneedling
  • Vaginal botox
  • Trigger point injections
  • Pelvic floor physical therapy
  • Vaginal valium
  • Surgery
  • Lubricants

What to expect on your visit

During your visit, you can expect your care team to listen to and address all of your concerns in a safe and trusted space. A consultation for dyspareunia may include:

  • A history and physical examination
  • Labs
  • Vulvoscopy
  • Imaging
Why am I having pain with sex?

Painful sex can occur at any point in a woman’s lifetime. The causes of painful sex are generally considered physical or hormonal in nature. Women should be assured that there is nothing wrong with them, and that painful sex is a common condition.

Some examples of the causes of painful sex include:

– Skin conditions
– Scar tissue
– Hormonal changes
– Injury
– Inflammation
– Congenital causes
– Nerve pain

Can you develop painful sex if you’ve never had it before?

Yes, you can develop painful sex at any point in your life. When treating this condition, it is helpful to work with your provider to define where the pain is, so that an evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment plan can be made.

Why did my provider at HerMD order imaging?

Imaging with ultrasound is considered the gold standard for evaluating a patient’s internal anatomy. This visualization will help your provider determine the root cause of the pain, and whether or not additional evaluation is needed. Ultrasound is a painless exam that is done in HerMD offices.

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