Dyspareunia is the medical term for pain caused during intercourse, many women and indeed some men suffer from this problem which can be down to a large number of causes.
In men painful intercourse can be caused by:
- Peyronie’s disease - curvature of the penis
- Vaginal obstruction.
Thrush is a yeast infection which can cause burning and itching of the penis, together with a sore and swollen tip. However it is easily treated and can be cured within 3 to 6 days.
Peyronie’s disease means that the penis bends too much when erect making intercourse painful. It can be treated and some cases it cures itself.
Vaginal obstruction – If a woman has a coil fitted and the thread from the device becomes displaced, this can cause pain for men, as can a stitch left behind after childbirth.
In women pain during intercourse is much more common and can be caused by:
- An Ectopic Pregnancy – This occurs when the ovum is fertilised in the fallopian tube and fails to reach the womb. It can be dangerous, so if you feel pain on intercourse and you have recently carried out a positive pregnancy test, then see your doctor immediately.
- Chlamydia – This is now a common sexually transmitted disease which can cause sterility in a woman. The symptoms are swollen and tender vaginal tissue, which makes intercourse painful.
- Cervix infection – A cervix infection can be caused by a wide range of causes, some of them very serious, see a doctor if you are experiencing painful intercourse along with other symptoms such as bleeding between periods, a burning sensation when going to the toilet or stomach cramps.
- Endometriosis - This is caused by the blood from the lining of the womb seeping into other parts of the body, causing inflammation and pain. There are various treatments available and these can be discussed with your doctor.
- Cancer – Painful intercourse is rarely a sign of cancer, but if pain persists and there is no sign of any other problem, then see your doctor.
- Menopausal dryness – Many women going through the menopause suffer from this condition, which can be treated with a hormone cream, pessary or lubricant.
- Vaginal infection – Vaginal infections have numerous causes, but the most common is Thrush which is a yeast infection which causes pain on intercourse, vaginal itching and a burning sensation when urinating. It is easily treatable with vaginal pessaries, tablets or cream.
- Genital warts – Genital Warts can make intercourse painful if they have become infected and they can be removed through medical treatment provided as an out-patient.
- Vaginismus – This is a condition which causes the woman’s vagina to go into spasm, which is very painful and makes intercourse almost impossible. It is treatable, but many women with this condition experience orgasm having non-penetrative sex.
Painful intercourse may also be caused by fear, worry or guilt such as:
- Fear of Penis size – The vagina stretches to accommodate a male penis, however large it may appear, it will not cause any harm.
- Nervousness - Nervousness causes women to tense up and this makes intercourse painful. Try relaxation techniques and ask your partner to spend more time on foreplay.
- Guilt – Some women unfortunately have a problem with intercourse due to their very strict upbringing, or even abuse. If the problem is preventing intercourse then counselling is advised which will help to demonstrate that sex is a healthy part of a loving relationship.
Whatever the problem, never be afraid to discuss it with either your partner or a health professional, don’t suffer in silence.