Dyspareunia is the term for recurring pain in the genital area or within the pelvis during sexual intercourse. This pain can be sharp or intense. It can occur before, during, or after sexual intercourse.
Dyspareunia is more common in women than in men. It has many possible causes, but there are treatments for the condition.
What causes dyspareunia?
Several conditions can cause dyspareunia. For some women, it’s a sign of a physical problem. Other women may experience pain as a result of emotional factors.
Common physical causes of dyspareunia include:
Factors that reduce sexual desire or affect a person’s ability to become aroused can also cause dyspareunia. These factors include:
What are the symptoms of dyspareunia?
Dyspareunia symptoms can vary. It has a common symptom of pain. While the pain may occur:
Who’s at risk for dyspareunia?
Both women and men can experience dyspareunia, but the condition is more common in women. Dyspareunia is one of the most common problems of postmenopausal women.
Around 75 percent of women have painful intercourse at some time, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). You’re at an increased risk if you:
How’s dyspareunia diagnosed?
Several tests help doctors identify and diagnose dyspareunia. Your doctor will start by creating a complete medical and sexual history. Possible questions your doctor may ask you include:
A pelvic examination is also standard during the diagnosis. During this procedure, your doctor will look at the external and internal pelvic area for signs of:
The internal examination will require a speculum, a device used to view the vagina during a Pap test. Your doctor also may use a cotton swab to apply slight pressure to different areas of the vagina to determine the location of the pain.
The initial examinations may lead your doctor to request other tests, such as:
How is dyspareunia treated?
Dyspareunia can be treated with medication as well as it can be treated naturally and with alternative therapies.
Dyspareunia treatments are determined based on the condition. If an underlying infection or illness causes your pain, your doctor may treat it with:
If a long-term medication is causing vaginal dryness, your physician may change your prescription. Trying alternative medications may restore natural lubrication and reduce pain. Low estrogen levels cause dyspareunia in some women. A prescription tablet, cream, or flexible ring can deliver a small, regular estrogen dose to the vagina.
An estrogen-free drug called ospemifene (Osphena) acts like estrogen on vaginal tissues. It’s useful in making the tissues thicker and less fragile, reducing the amount of pain a woman experiences with sexual intercourse.
2. Home care
These home remedies can also reduce dyspareunia symptoms:
3. Alternative therapies
Your doctor may also recommend treatment that may include Desensitization Therapy or Sex Therapy. In desensitization therapy, you’ll learn vaginal relaxation techniques, such as Kegel exercises, that can decrease pain. In sex therapy, you can learn how to reestablish intimacy and improve communication with your partner.
How to preventing dyspareunia?
There’s no specific prevention for dyspareunia. But you can do the following to reduce the risk of pain during intercourse:
What’s the outlook for dyspareunia?
Alternatives to sexual intercourse may be needed. You and your partner can use other techniques for intimacy until penetration is more comfortable. Sensual massage, kissing, oral sex, and mutual masturbation may be satisfying alternatives.
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