Painful sex, also known as dyspareunia, can cause a variety of problems and can happen for a variety of reasons. It is important to talk to your doctor to know what’s going on with your body. It is important to know that this isn’t normal and there are ways to fix it. Many of the following reasons can only be diagnosed and treated by a physician. Below are the many reasons why sex may be painful.

  • Vaginismus  – This is an involuntary spasm in the vaginal muscles and is mainly caused by fear or anxiety. This is fairly common reason for painful sex.  Doing Kegel exercises can help with vaginismus.
  • Vaginal Infections or vaginitis – This includes yeast infections, bacterial infections, viruses, and other irritations that can be caused by chemicals in creams and sprays.  Be sure to talk to a doctor if you feel you may have an infection.
  • Problems with the Cervix,  Uterus, or ovaries – During intercourse, the penis can reach the cervix at maximum penetration and it is possible to have an infection in the cervix as well. Painful sex can also be caused by fibroids. Fibroids are benign lumps that grow in the uterus.  If you have cysts on your ovaries, sex can be painful as well.
  • Endometriosis  – Endometriosis is a condition in which the tissue that lines the uterus grows outside the uterus and is known for being very painful. There are many treatments for this condition and it’s important to talk to your midwife or doctor about your options.
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) – This occurs when tissues inside become badly inflamed and the pressure of intercourse causes deep pain. PID is an infection of the female reproductive organs and can cause infertility if not treated.
  • Ectopic pregnancy – An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the egg develops outside the uterus and causes lots of reproductive problems.
  • Menopause – The changes in hormones during menopause can cause sex to be painful. There are natural and prescribed methods to help with these symptoms.
  • Congenital abnormality  – This would be a physical abnormality present at birth and is a physical cause to painful sex.
  • Sex too soon after childbirth or sex – Be sure to allow yourself at least 6 weeks after childbirth to have sex. And if you have had surgery, be sure to ask your doctor when you are able to begin sexual activity.

What to do 

If those methods don’t work, it may be time to talk to your doctor. Your physician is your best ally in finding a treatment. In some cases, sexual therapy can be useful. In other cases, medication may be the best route.  The safest bet is to talk to your doctor or midwife about your options.  We’re used to talking about these uncomfortable topics.  You’ve got a safe place to talk if you are experiencing pain accompanying sex.