How to Avoid Painful Intercourse (at Any Age)

dreamstime_s_54049370Painful 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:

  • Menopause
  • Endometriosis
  • 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
  • Vulvodynia
  • Scars
  • Strictures
  • 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.