At some time in their life, most women experience pain when having sexual relations. This can be due to many different reasons. Usually, it goes away. However, if you always suffer pain when you have sex with your partner, you could have a treatable medical condition called Dyspareunia.
Dyspareunia means that you feel pain either before, during, or after having sexual relations. This pain can take different forms and can be felt in different parts of your genitals. It can last a short time or for several hours. It is called Dyspareunia if you feel the pain every time you have relations, or if it keeps coming back. To receive a diagnosis of Dyspareunia you must have been experiencing pain during intercourse for at least six months.
Many women are reluctant to seek help for this condition, so accurate figures are difficult to obtain. It is thought that between ten and twenty out of every one hundred women in the US experience painful intercourse at some time.
Dyspareunia can have both physical and/or emotional causes. Discovering exactly when and where you feel the pain could help to determine the cause.
If you feel pain when your partner is entering into you at the beginning of relations, it could be due to-
If the pain that you experience occurs when your partner is deep inside of you, or when he penetrates with force, the causes could be-
Sometimes the pain you feel may not be due to a physical reason but an emotional one. Or, frequently it can be a bit of both. You may suffer pain during intercourse if you are anxious, depressed or unhappy in your relationship. Stress can cause the muscles of your pelvic floor to tighten causing pain. Also, if you have ever been physically or sexually abused this can be the reason.
The signs and symptoms of this condition vary from person to person, but it is characterized by repeated pain in the genital area during sexual intercourse.
Once you have experienced pain a few times, you may become more tense during sexual relations because you are worried that it is going to hurt again. That can lead to increased pain, and it is quite common to start avoiding having relations so as not to suffer the pain. This can be a vicious circle, and it is quite common to feel distressed and inadequate due to this condition.
If you are trying to get pregnant the pain can make this difficult and you may find that your personal relationships are suffering and that you may not feel good about yourself in general. The good news is that many causes of the pain are treatable and can be cured. If it is not possible to find the reason or cure it, therapy can help you to overcome or to learn how to minimize and to live with the pain.
One of the most common times for Dyspareunia to begin is after giving birth for the first time. Forty-one-percent of women experience pain during the first three months, and in twenty-two percent, it can extend for six months. This can be due to a combination of factors. Scarring or damage to the vaginal area during the delivery, a drop in estrogen levels causing dryness and the mental stress that giving birth can bring. In repeated cases, reconstructive surgery may solve the problem.
“Genito-Pelvic Pain/Penetration Disorder”
Vaginismus is due to muscle spasm in the vagina caused by contractions in the muscles of the pelvic floor over which you have no control. Vaginismus is a common cause of Dyspareunia, but the actual term Dyspareunia applies to pain in any part of the genitals before, during or after penetration.
Lizzie had enjoyed a normal, trouble-free sexual life from the age of eighteen until she was twenty-three. She then became pregnant with her first child with whom she experienced a long and rather traumatic vaginal birth. After birthing, her doctor advised against sexual intercourse for three to six months to allow complete healing. Lizzie’s partner was very understanding and supportive and did not insist on having relations.
After six months, however, Lizzie remained reluctant to resume their sexual activity. The first attempts were unsuccessful, and Lizzie experienced severe pain even before penetration was achieved. With the new baby taking up so much of her time, Lizzie’s partner began to feel unwanted and abandoned and Lizzie became depressed. As time went on their relationship deteriorated and their sexual and affectionate times together disappeared completely.
Eventually, Lizzie’s partner convinced her to visit the doctor to see if there was a physical reason for the problem. Lizzie was sure that it was due to the scarring occurred during giving birth, but, upon receiving a physical examination, the doctor revealed that she had healed well. Unable to find a physical reason for the pain he referred the couple to a sex therapist. She discovered that it was the anticipation of feeling again the pain that she had experienced during childbirth that was causing Lizzie to involuntarily tighten her pelvic and vaginal muscles. This was making penetration impossible. She started working with the couple in relaxation techniques and after just a few weeks of therapy, they were able to resume their sexual activities without pain.
Thanks to the therapy, and the support and understanding of her partner, Lizzie is a happy young mum who is now enjoying a full and normal sex life again,
Enjoying pain-free sex life should be the norm. If you begin to experience pain at any stage of the sexual act, and at any time during your life seek medical advice. There are many physical causes of Dyspareunia which can be treated will pills, creams, or in some cases surgery. Many of the emotional causes of the condition respond very well to therapies. Continuing to suffer the pain will only make things worse and the treatment more complicated. So, seek professional medical help to assist you to return to enjoying an active sex life again.
It is important to seek treatment as soon as possible to avoid aggravating the problem further. Do not be embarrassed or ashamed, your doctor is a professional who can help you to feel better in all aspects of your life.
When you visit your doctor, he will want to know your complete medical and sexual history. He will also want you to give him as much information as possible about exactly where and when the pain occurs. Think about how the pain feels. If it is a burning sensation this may indicate to the doctor a different cause than if it is a localized piercing pain or a general overall discomfort. Try to be as specific as you can. He will want to know if it hurts with the same intensity in different positions, and, if you have more than one sexual partner, he will want to know if the pain is the same with each one.
Even though you may feel uncomfortable talking about these things, the more information you can give your doctor, the more likely it is that he will be able to find what is causing the pain and how to treat it. Later on, the doctor will examine your pelvis and vagina and may request an ultrasound. If any of the tests are painful you can ask the doctor to stop. Some doctors will give you a mirror for the pelvic exam so that you can participate more in the examination and better understand what the doctor discovers.
Some women suffer pain from their first sexual experiment while others develop the condition later on. If you only started to suffer pain later in your sexual activities the doctor will probably ask you to try and remember if there was a specific event, time or person that provoked it the first time.
The appropriate treatment for the pain you suffer depends on the cause of the pain.
Being loving and close with your partner does not have to include intercourse if it is too painful. Try other ways to enjoy intimacy like masturbating, kissing, giving each other massages. Look for support from internet groups of fellow sufferers.
Your medical insurance may cover you for this condition depending on the causes and the prescribed treatment. Consult with your insurance agent to see if you can claim.
Ask your doctor to recommend a therapist who offers the kind of therapy which he feels would be best for you.
Desensitization therapy may help you to learn how to relax the muscles of the vagina which can alleviate the pain.
Sometimes, even when the cause of the pain has been identified and cured you may continue feeling pain. This is because you now associate the sexual act with pain and this may lead you to not wish to be intimate with your partner. Sex therapy or sex counseling with your partner can help to resolve these issues by encouraging conversation and increasing confidence in each other.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is sometimes recommended to help to break out of negative cycles of thought and behavior.
Look for a therapist who offers the appropriate kind of therapy that your doctor has recommended. You can look up their webpage on the internet to learn more about the therapy so that you know what to expect. Look for a therapist that both you and your partner think you will feel comfortable with. You will need to be able to communicate freely and have complete confidence in your therapist for the therapy to be successful.
National Institute of Mental Health: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/index.shtml
National Rehabilitation Information Center: https://www.naric.com/?q=en/content/resources-specific-disabilities
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
1-800-273-8255 available 24 hrs a day
Crisis Text Line: Text “home” to 741741
American Sexual Health Association’s STD Hotline: 1-919-361-8488
Planned Parenthood U.S. National Sexual Health Hotline: 1-800-230-PLAN (7526)
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