Dyspareunia, or painful sex, can be caused by many things. You may have an injury, an infection, or a growth in your vagina. Or maybe you have muscle spasms. In some cases, the pain is caused by another medical condition, such as a spinal problem.
Some medicines can cause dryness in the vagina. And as a woman gets older, her vagina gets drier. It may also narrow, shorten, and get stiffer. This dryness can make sex painful.
Talk to your doctor about what might be causing your painful sex. Treatment may help.
What causes pain for women during sex?
Any history of pain during sex may cause a woman to avoid sex or find it unpleasant.
Pain during sex may be caused by:
- Vaginal dryness. Lack of lubrication in the vagina is the most common cause of pain with sex.
- Vaginismus (say "vadj-uh-NIZ-mus"). This is an involuntary contraction of the vagina. It's often related to a lack of experience with sex. Sometimes it stems from a trauma such as rape or sexual abuse. But there can also be a medical cause, such as:
- Scars in the vaginal opening from injury, surgery, or childbirth.
- Pelvic infections, such as vaginitis or Bartholin glands infections.
- Chronic pain conditions, such as vulvodynia.
- Skin conditions, such as lichen sclerosus or lichen planus.
- Irritation from douches, spermicides, or latex condoms.
- Dyspareunia (say "dis-puh-ROO-nee-uh"). This is physical pain that occurs during entry into the vagina, during deep thrusting, or after sexual intercourse.
How can you care for yourself if sex is painful?
- Use a vaginal lubricant during sex. Examples are Astroglide, K-Y Jelly, and Wet Gel Lubricant.
- Increase the time you and your partner spend touching each other before sex. This is called foreplay.
- Try different positions for sex to find the most comfortable ones.
- Ask your doctor about exercises to strengthen and relax your pelvic muscles.
- Before sex, take a warm bath. This can relax you and reduce anxiety.
- If your doctor prescribes any medicines, take them exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.