Discomfort During Intercourse
Pain during intercourse (dyspareunia) is pain or discomfort in a woman’s labial, vaginal, or pelvic areas during or immediately following sexual intercourse. The word dyspareunia comes from the early Greek language, and its meanings include “difficulty mating” or “badly mated.” Pain during intercourse is described in medical literature dating back to the ancient Egyptian scrolls.
Today, most causes of dyspareunia can be easily discovered and treated but the number of women who experience pain during intercourse is unknown because the symptoms vary. Also, both doctors and women fail to freely discuss sexual practices. Recent studies suggest that more than many women report current or previous episodes of pain during sexual relations but that fewer than half of these women discussed this pain with their doctors.
Symptoms of pain related to sexual intercourse can occur when entry is attempted or during and/or immediately following sexual intercourse.
- The most common symptom is pain on entry (intromission). The pain may be described as sharp or burning.
- The second most common symptom is deep pain.
- Other symptoms include feelings of muscle spasms, pelvic cramping, or muscle tightness.
A health-care professional should ask about a woman’s history of pain during intercourse. A thorough history and an extensive physical examination often reveal the most probable cause of this pain.
Treatment of pain during intercourse depends on the cause. The Juliet Laser can successfully treat the following once a diagnosis by one of our Consultant Gynaecologists has been confirmed:
- Atrophy (thinning of the vaginal walls) due to menopause: Entrance (introital) pain caused by vaginal atrophy is common among postmenopausal women who do not or cannot take estrogen replacement medication.
- Urethritis and urethral syndrome: Irritation of the urethra and lower bladder can be caused by a lack of estrogen. This may result in urinary burning, frequency, and hesitancy. In such cases there may be no evidence of bacterial infection on microscopic examination of the urine. In the absence of any chronic inflammation of the urethra, these symptoms may be caused by these symptoms may be caused by muscle spasms, anxiety, low estrogen levels, or a combination of these factors.
- Inadequate lubrication: Treatment of inadequate lubrication depends on its specific etiology. One option of treatment includes water-soluble lubricants (for use with condoms, as other types of lubricants may damage wall of the prophylactic). If adequate arousal does not take place, more extensive foreplay might be helpful in increasing vaginal moisture.
- Vaginismus: Painful spasms of muscles at the opening of the vagina may be an involuntary but appropriate response to painful stimuli. These spasms may be due to several factors, including painful intromission, previous painful sexual experiences, prior sexual abuse, or an unresolved conflict regarding sexuality. For a woman with vaginismus, her Gynaecologist may recommend behavior therapy, including vaginal relaxation exercises.