Painful Intercourse: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Painful intercourse, also called dyspareunia, is persistent or recurrent genital pain that occurs just before, during or after intercourse can be caused by structural or psychological concerns. Most women experience painful intercourse at some point in their lives.

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Symptoms may include:

  • Pain only at penetration
  • Throbbing pain lasting hours intercourse
  • Pain with every penetration
  • Deep pain during thrusting
  • Burning or aching pain


Physical causes of painful intercourse depends on whether the pain occurs at entry or with deep thrusting. Emotional factors might be linked with many types of painful intercourse.

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Penetration pain

Pain during penetration might be associated with:

  • Insufficient lubrication.This occurs when there is not enough foreplay. A drop in estrogen levels can be responsible. Certain medications like sedatives, antidepressants, and high blood pressure drugs, are known to affect sexual desire or arousal.
  • Injury or irritation.This includes injury or irritation from an accident, pelvic surgery, female circumcision or a cut during childbirth to enlarge the birth canal.
  • Infection or skin disorder.Another condition that may be responsible for sexual pain is an infection in your genital area or urinary tract.
  • These are involuntary spasms of the muscles of the vaginal wall that can make penetration painful.
  • Congenital abnormality.A problem present at birth, such as the absence of a fully formed vagina or development of a membrane that blocks the vaginal opening could cause dyspareunia.

Deep pain

Deep pain usually occurs with deep penetration. It might be worse in certain positions. Causes include:

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Emotional factors

Emotions are linked with sexual activity, so they might be responsible for sexual pain. Emotional factors include:

  • The floor of your pelvic muscles appears to tighten in response to stress in your life. This can lead to pain during intercourse.
  • Psychological issuesDepression, fear of intimacy, relationship problems, and anxiety may cause a low level of arousal and a resulting discomfort or pain.
  • History of sexual abuse or rape can equally contribute to painful intercourse.

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