Painful Intercourse Causes and Treatment


According to a recent survey called the 2009 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, up to a third of women experience some type of pain during intercourse.  It is a common problem that has many causes, most of which can be treated.  Pain on intercourse can decrease your sex drive and can make you fearful of sex, which doesn’t help fertility.  Most women have actual physical causes of having pain on intercourse and it is rarely a psychological problem.

Some reasons for pain on intercourse include the following:

A lack of female arousal:

reasons for infertilityWomen get aroused at a slower rate compared to men. Women need more foreplay to become aroused enough to enjoy sex.  In order to treat this problem, the man and woman need to engage in more foreplay before the “act” of intercourse.  There are different ways to enhance female arousal and you need to find something that arouses you so that you lubricate the vagina more and enjoy sex to a greater degree.

Lack of Lubrication:

Even if you feel like having sex, you may not have the vaginal lubrication to make the act of sex more comfortable.  If you take a warm bath before sex, for example, it can decrease the amount of lubrication you have.  Lubrication takes at least 5 minutes to occur after you become aroused.  If you have problems with a lack of normal lubrication, you need to have access to some type of water-soluble lubricant, such as KY Jelly.  This can make sex more comfortable and will make up for the lack of natural lubrication.

Tension or Stress:

reasons for infertilityIf you are stressed out by the events of the day, you will not be relaxed enough to have non-painful sex.  You won’t be as lubricated and you won’t feel as much like having sex.  The best solution is to try and de-stress your life or to do things that relax you before sex.  A good massage or meditation can put you in the mood for having sex and will increase your libido and your ability to become lubricated during sex.

A Lack of Genital Fit:

There may be a problem with the woman’s vagina being too small or the man’s penis being too big (or both).  The best way to handle this is to use some kind of lubricant and to take it slower during sex.   The vagina eventually relaxes and expands to fit the penis so that sex isn’t so painful.

Endometriosis is when there are implants of uterine lining that have left the uterus and have implanted themselves on other parts of the pelvis. This can cause painful intercourse.  The best way to do this is to see the gynecologist and get some type of treatment for the endometriosis.  It could involve medications to decrease the size of the implants or can involve surgery to remove the implants so that fertility is enhanced and sex is less painful.

Genital infections:

painful intercourse causes and treatmentWomen who have trichomonas infections, yeast infections, or genital herpes will have pain on intercourse when the infection is especially active.  The infection can change the sensitivity of the vagina and vulva so that there is pain on intercourse.  The best treatment for this is to treat the infection or take medications for the infection so that sex is less painful.  The man may need to be treated as well so the infection doesn’t come back.

Irritable bowel syndrome:

When a woman has a problem with an irritable bowel, the constipation and sensitivity of the bowels can contribute to pain on intercourse. The rectum is close to the vagina so, when sex occurs, an irritation of the rectum can impact the pain of having sex.  There are ways to manage this.  Your primary care doctor can help you change your diet, reduce stress, or give you medications that will treat the irritable bowel syndrome so that sex is less painful.

Menopause can cause changes in the vagina, particularly dryness and an increased sensitivity of the vagina so that sex is more painful.  The best way to handle this is to improve the lubrication of the vagina so that the dryness of the vagina doesn’t impact the pain of sex.  Your gynecologist may be able to recommend or prescribe estrogen vaginal cream which will improve the lubrication of the vagina.


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