Painful or uncomfortable sex is not limited to older women – the issue can present itself in women of any age. This is because painful intercourse can occur for many different reasons, which can occur at many different points in a woman’s life.
It’s important to remember that pain during sex (or discomfort) is not unusual, that it happens to most women at one point or another, and that a urogynecologist can provide recommendations and/or treatment when appropriate in order to improve the quality of your sex life.
Possible reasons for painful intercourse include:
- Sexually transmitted disease (STD)
- Injury to the vagina or vulva, such as from childbirth-related tearing
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Ovarian issues (cysts)
- Uterine fibroids
- Cervical infection
- Yeast infection
- Vaginismus (spasms caused by fear of pain)
- Pelvic prolapse
- Vulvar skin conditions, like Lichen Sclerosis
- History of sexual abuse
- Trauma, i.e., birthing trauma
Your provider will need to diagnose your issue in order to determine why sex is a painful experience.
After giving birth and the time around menopause are the most common periods of a woman’s life in which painful intercourse occurs. Childbirth is a significant event in terms of the effect it can have on a woman’s body, especially if the birth involved tearing or an episiotomy. Menopause is the body’s transition from menstruation and fertility to post-menopause when women will stop being fertile and will no longer get a monthly period. Both occasions involve a great deal of hormonal changes that can make sex painful, whether from a lack of vaginal lubrication, pelvic prolapse, or vaginismus.
It’s important to contact your provider if sex is an unpleasant, painful experience because this feeling does not have to be a normal part of life. Painful intercourse can be indicative of a physical concern, psychological concern, or both, but there is no reason to dread or avoid sex. Depending on the reason, there is a multitude of treatments available.