Painful Sex in Women: Symptoms, Causes & Recovery

Dec 5
Painful sex, known as dyspareunia, is a common issue for women. In fact, between 3% and 18% of the female population worldwide struggles with this issue, and between 10% and 28% of women will experience painful intercourse in their lifetime.*

If you experience pain during intercourse, you are not alone. Painful sex is described as a frequent or persistent pain in the genitalia that happens before, during, or after sex. While many women avoid discussing this issue, seeking help from a healthcare professional or certified sex therapist can help them recover. 
Whether women experience pain because of physical issues, emotional trauma, or psychological issues, it can deprive them of the joy of enjoying a fulfilling sex life. Seeking professional treatment can help improve emotional connections and physical health. 

Symptoms of Painful Sex 

Some women may wonder why they experience minor to severe pain during or after any touch or level of penetration to the genitals, ranging from routine gynecological examinations or sexual intercourse. The pain can differ depending on the type of touch, the degree of penetration, or level of sensation experienced, for example, force of thrusting during sex. Women may experience a variety of symptoms, such as pain, burning, aching, deep thrusting pain, or long-lasting throbbing after intercourse.
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Causes of Painful Sex

Women may experience painful sex for various reasons. Whether they have mild discomfort or extreme pain during or after sex, it can lead to frustration, relationship trauma, and emotional turmoil. A few causes of painful sex include:
  • Injury or trauma, such as pregnancy, childbirth, or irritation from a genital injury can lead to pain.
  • Infection or inflammation from a urinary tract infection or yeast overgrowth can make intercourse painful.
  • A lack of lubrication, often from the absence of foreplay, can make sex painful for many women. Hormonal imbalances can also decrease natural lubrication. 
  • Some women have vaginal spasms, vaginismus, that lead to painful sex.
  • Physical deformities such as an imperforate hymen can lead to frequent pain.
  • Vulvodynia or pain in the vulva.
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*Lee, N. M. W., Jakes, A. D., Lloyd, J., & Frodsham, L. C. G. (2018). Dyspareunia. BMJ : British Medical Journal (Online), 361. 

Find Recovery With MendEd

If you struggle with painful sex, don’t hesitate to seek help. Treatment is available. A certified sex therapist can answer your questions, educate you in methods to treat your condition, and help you achieve a better sex life. MendEd offers an online sexual education course to help you identify the root cause of your pain and work toward recovery.