Doctor's Notes on Painful Intercourse (Dyspareunia)
Painful intercourse is the experience of discomfort or pain during sex. The medical term for painful intercourse is dyspareunia. Causes may include:
- vaginismus (involuntary contraction of the vaginal muscles),
- sexually transmitted diseases,
- abnormalities or tumors of the female genital tract, and
- lower estrogen levels in perimenopause and after menopause, which can result in insufficient lubrication and painful intercourse along with certain medications.
Associated symptoms may include:
- vaginal dryness,
- bleeding, or
Other signs and symptoms depend upon the cause and may include:
- lower abdominal or pelvic pain,
- mood swings,
- sleep disturbances, and
- abdominal tenderness.
What Is the Treatment for Painful Intercourse?
Treatment for painful intercourse depends on the cause of the condition. Treatment may include:
- Drugs to treat infections that may be causing the pain
- Over-the-counter vaginal lubricant products
- Prescription medications to increase vaginal lubrication
- Vaginal relaxation exercises
- Psychological counseling, patient education, and stress management techniques where appropriate
- Surgery to remove vaginal strictures if present
- Management of any underlying conditions that cause or worsen the pain
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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.