Dyspareunia, or painful intercourse may affect more than 70 percent women world over.
Occurring mostly among women, Dyspareunia may sometimes affect men too and cause discomfort and pain before, during or after sexual activities. The causes differ from person to person and may be physical or even genetic.
Women tend to face this problem due to psychological or emotional factors. Symptoms may include pain in the pelvic regions mostly during intercourse and probably after it too. Dryness and discomfort may also be noted.
Common causes of dyspareunia
Sexual health Trivia:
In the National Health and Social Life Survey of 1,749 women, 43 percent women surveyed experienced sexual dysfunction, which included the diagnosis of dyspareunia.
Many women find dyspareunia damaging to their sexual confidence and interpersonal relationships.
A healing episiotomy: Women undergoing episiotomy during childbirth are more likely to experience pain and discomfort during intercourse-studies show. The trauma associated with childbirth and loss of self esteem may contribute to this condition. Also, post childbirth, due to a change in the hormonal levels, sexual activity tends to become less pleasurable. Anticipation of pain even after complete healing of the episiotomy tears have healed may be linked to this condition.
Lack of vaginal lubrication: Dryness of the vagina associated with menopause leads to loss of lubricant production during intercourse leading to pain.
Endometriosis: A condition characterized by the development of endometrial-like cells around the uterine cavity and probably around the ovaries is termed as endometriosis. This condition may lead to pelvic pain and the symptoms often turn worse during intercourse or menstrual cycle.
Septa of the vagina: Septum formation in the vagina, either transverse or longitudinal, making 2 chambers within the single cavity may lead to painful intercourse. Septa formation occurs during embryogenesis and also causes obstruction during labor.
Ovarian cysts:Deep pain is associated with presence of ovarian cysts and in some cases may even lead to complete abstinence from sexual activity as a result of fear of the pain. Not only during intercourse, but also, the pain associated with the collection of fluid around the ovaries is often unbearable.
Infection: Candidiasis, pelvic inflammatory diseases, Chlamydia infection may all contribute to dyspareunia.
Tumors or uterine fibroids: Non-cancerous tumors or fibroids arising in the endometrial or myometrial lining of the uterus may cause discomfort during intercourse. About 17% women suffering from dyspareunia experience pain due to presence of uterine fibroids.
Retroverted uterus: The backward tilt of the uterus instead of the normal forward tilt is termed as its retroversion. This condition may seriously affect intercourse and lead to intense pain.
Estrogen deficiency: Deficiency of estrogen levels, mostly at the menopausal and pre-menopausal stages lead to inadequate lubrication causing pain during intercourse.
Interstitial cystitis: A chronic disease symptomized by recurrent pain in the bladder may severly interfere with the sexual activities causing dissatisfaction and discomfort.
Peyronie’s disease: A bent appearance of the penis occurring as a result of circumcision or any traumatic event leads to dyspareunia in men. Although this condition s quite rare, it leads to a loss of self esteem among those suffering from it. The treatment for dyspareunia may revolve around the removal of the root cause of the disorder.
The following steps may be taken so as to reduce the symptoms and prevent the condition from getting worse.
Pelvic examination: A pelvic examination is essential in order to detect the cause of pain and discomfort. A correct diagnosis and treatment is possible only when the source of the pain is discovered. Proper case taking by a gynecologist is necessary.
Use of lubricants: Water-soluble lubricants used by both partners may reduce discomfort and alleviate pain.
Change in coital positions: Experiment with different positions to determine which one is best suited to both of you and which one provides minimal discomfort. Longer foreplay induces the natural lubricants to get released.
Estrogen treatment: Hormone replacement therapy used by women suffering from menopause relives the symptoms associated with it. Similarly, those suffering from dyspareunia due to low levels of estrogen may try their hand at estrogen therapy which increases the natural lubricant produced by the vagina reducing discomfort and pain.
Desensitization therapy: Use of Kegal and other pelvic floor exercises to strengthen the muscles of the pelvis and other exercises that aim at reducing pain, can be tried. A significant number of people have shown positive results after trying out these exercises.
Talk to a counsellor, or even better, your partner about the concerns you have and what do you expect from him/her. Other treatments: Address the underlying serious medical conditions such as Peyronie’s diseases, endometriosis and ovarian cysts. They not only cause pain during intercourse but may also prove to be dangerous in other aspects as swell. Treating them will ultimately help you reduce the symptoms of dyspareunia.