Symptoms and Signs of Painful Intercourse (Sex)

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Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

Doctor's Notes on Painful Intercourse (Sex)

Painful intercourse is the experience of discomfort or pain during sex. The medical term for painful intercourse is dyspareunia. It can occur due to involuntary contraction of the vaginal muscles in women, a condition known as vaginismus. Painful intercourse can also be a symptom of sexually-transmitted diseases or abnormalities or tumors of the female genital tract. Lowering of estrogen levels in perimenopause and after menopause can result in insufficient lubrication and painful intercourse along with certain medications.

Associated symptoms can include vaginal dryness, burning, itching, bleeding, or discharge. Other signs and symptoms depend upon the cause and can include lower abdominal or pelvic pain, fever, mood swings, anxiety, headache, sleep disturbances, and abdominal tenderness.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.