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Pain During Intercourse (cont.)

What Are the Symptoms of Painful Intercourse (Sex)?

Symptoms of pain related to sexual intercourse can occur when entry is attempted or during and/or immediately following sexual intercourse.

  • The most common symptom is pain on entry (intromission). The pain may be described as sharp or burning.
  • The second most common symptom is deep pain.
  • Other symptoms include feelings of muscle spasms, pelvic cramping, or muscle tightness.

Pain during intercourse may be described as primary or secondary; as complete or situational; and as superficial-entrance or deep thrust types.

  • Primary pain with intercourse is pain that has existed for the woman's entire sexual lifetime.
  • Secondary pain develops after a symptom-free period of time.
  • Complete pain means the woman experiences pain in all times during intercourse.
  • Situational pain occurs with a particular partner or a certain type of stimulation.
  • Superficial-entrance pain is noticeable at penetration.
  • Deep thrust pain is located at the cervix or in the lower abdominal area and is noticeable during or after penetration.

A woman may perceive pain during intercourse even without any physical cause. Sexual pain without an apparent physical cause may have a psychological origin.

When to Seek Medical Care for Painful Intercourse (Sex)

A woman should always consult a health-care professional if she is experiencing new or worsening pain, bleeding, or discharge following intercourse.

Pain related to intercourse is a condition most appropriately checked by a primary health-care professional or a women's health specialist (gynecologist). Other specialists, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist or a urologist, may also be consulted depending on the underlying cause.

Pain during intercourse is generally not an emergency. A woman should seek care in a hospital's emergency department if she experiences any of the following symptoms:

  • New onset of pain or pain more severe than previous episodes and that lasts more than just a few minutes
  • Bleeding following pain, particularly new onset or severe pain
  • Nausea, vomiting, or rectal pain following intercourse
  • A new discharge
Last Reviewed 11/21/2017
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