Sexual Disorders Involving Pain

Pain during or after intercourse, called dyspareunia, occurs in nearly two out of three women at some time during their lives, according to ACOG. Like other sexual disorders, it can have physical and/or emotional causes. The most common cause of pain during sex is inadequate vaginal lubrication occurring from a lack of arousal, medications or hormonal changes. Painful sex also can be a sign of illness, infection, cysts or tumors requiring medical treatment or surgery, another reason why you should discuss the problem with your health care professional.

Another type of sexual pain disorder is vaginismus, which is the involuntary spasm of the muscles at the opening of the vagina, making anything entering the vagina painful. Vaginismus can have medical causes, including:
  • scars in the vagina from an injury, childbirth or surgery
  • irritations from douches, spermicides or latex in condoms
  • pelvic infections

Vaginismus also can have psychological causes. It can be a response to a fear, such as fear of losing control or fear of pregnancy. It can also stem from pain or trauma such as rape or sexual abuse.

Another type of sexual pain disorder is vulvodynia. It is defined as any pain in the vulva. It could be outside the vulva on the labia, or an itching, burning or sharp pain within.

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