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how dyspareunia causes pain during sex
Giddy author Tabitha Britt penned an in depth article on how dyspareunia causes pain during sex, and she reached out to me for my opinions in this wide ranging exposé on this common issue. Here is a brief synopsis of the article with some of my thoughts, and I encourage you to read the full article at the link below.

Heather Jeffcoat, DPT

Find Out How Dyspareunia Causes Pain During Sex

Intercourse shouldn't hurt, but if it does, find out why and how you can reduce the discomfort.

As the article states, if you experience pain during sex, you're far from alone. Dyspareunia, or painful intercourse, affects about 3 in 4 women. Although this condition is most often associated with women, studies have shown about 1 percent to 5 percent of men suffer from pain from intercourse, too.

The article goes deep into the potential causes of painful sex, which can include endometriosis, adenomyosis, uterine fibroids, a retroverted uterus, interstitial cystitis / painful bladder syndrome, vaginismus, clitoral phimosis, postorgasmic illness syndrome, chronic bacterial prostatitis, and more.

So as you can see, dyspareunia is really a blanket term for any type of pain associated with penetrative sex. Tabitha points out how dyspareunia can be broken down into two types, superficial and deep:

  • Superficial dyspareunia, known as entry dyspareunia, refers to pain felt at the vaginal or rectal opening during initial penetration.
  • Deep dyspareunia, known as collision dyspareunia, refers to pain felt at deeper points in the vagina and/or rectum during sexual stimulation or penetration.
  • Some people experience both types of dyspareunia.

She then mentions how common symptoms can show up in several forms, such as:

  • Constant pain that begins at the start of sexual intercourse
  • Pain after a period of pain-free sex
  • Pain during all sexual activity, including arousal, penetration and orgasm
  • Pain that occurs when there is a change in the physical, emotional or hormonal state during sex

Click here to browse all of our articles on Dyspareunia.

What causes pain during sex?

Pain with sex can happen for a variety of reasons, many of which overlap. Some common causes include:

  • Endometriosis
  • Adenomyosis - Similar to endometriosis, adenomyosis occurs when endometrial-like tissue invades the muscular wall of the uterus. This tissue growth causes heavy, prolonged periods, chronic pelvic pain, and pain during or after sex.
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Retroverted uterus
  • Interstitial cystitis / painful bladder syndrome (IC-PBS)
  • Vaginismus
  • Clitoral phimosis - an anatomical disorder involving the hood of skin around a woman's clitoris being fully or partially disabled, such as being too tight. A 2002 study published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy suggested 22 percent of women suffer from clitoral phimosis.
  • Postorgasmic illness syndrome (POIS) - a rare and under-researched condition characterized by a sudden onset of flu-like symptoms, including nausea, dizziness, weakness and fatigue, shortly after having an orgasm. These symptoms can endure for an hour to several days.
  • Chronic bacterial prostatitis

Treatment options

Tabitha lists a number of treatment options that include medications, desensitization therapy, and sex therapy. But it's her last tip that hits home with us:

A pelvic floor physical therapist may also be able to help you normalize the activity of your pelvic floor muscles to reduce any discomfort you may be experiencing during intercourse.

Tips for coping and improving your sex life

She offers a number of options that can improve the situation aside from the treatments mentioned, with an emphasis on switching things up - including different positions and not relying on penetrative sex alone. There is much more to learn at the full article here on the Giddy website. And if you think you're ready to take the plunge with one of our trained physical therapists, click here to schedule an appointment with us.

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** This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. **

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