Causes of painful sexual intercourse

Pain during sexual intercourse can go from mild to severe, but wherever it may sit on the intensity scale, it can certainly turn sex from pleasurable to unwanted. Pain during intercourse is called dyspareunia in medical terms, and it can cause problems in a couple’s intimate life, but it can also affect a woman’s life in general. That is why it is important to understand possible causes of painful sexual intercourse and what you can do to prevent it.

In most cases, pain that a women feels during penetration is due to vaginal dryness. This condition can happen during periods of hormonal changes, such as during pregnancy, breastfeeding or menopause. Dryness can also be the cause of pain if a couple doesn’t dedicate enough time for foreplay, leaving the woman not aroused enough to stimulate sufficient natural lubrication.

Reasons for vaginal dryness

The reason for vaginal dryness during menopause, pregnancy or breastfeeding is a drop in estrogen levels. Estrogen is a female sex hormone that is in charge of keeping the vagina walls thick, elastic and lubricated. When estrogen levels are reduced, vaginal tissue becomes thinner and less elastic, and lubrication is significantly reduced, causing dryness and tissue damage during penetration, resulting in pain and inflammation.

If this is the case, try using a vaginal moisturiser or a lubricant that can provide relief from dryness and allow for a painless, pleasurable sex life. The main difference between these two types of products is that the moisturisers are designed to be used daily, providing continuous moisture that will help you exercise and enjoy any physical activity without the feeling of friction and discomfort in your intimate area, while the lubricants are intended to be used prior to having intercourse, providing effect that lasts for a short period of time.


"In most cases, pain that a women feels during penetration is due to vaginal dryness. This condition can happen during periods of hormonal changes, such as during pregnancy, breastfeeding or menopause."


Other discomforts

If the pain you feel during sex is connected to itching, burning and swelling, followed by a white, crumbly discharge, you may have a yeast infection. Pain can also occur if you have bacterial vaginosis – in both cases, avoid having intercourse until the infection is under control and the damaged tissue has healed. Consult your doctor for appropriate therapy and consider using a prebiotic product that can stimulate the growth of good bacteria in your vagina.

Other cases that may cause you to feel pain during intercourse include:

  • Certain STDs
  • Episiotomy or a tear created during childbirth
  • Certain medical conditions such as endometriosis and pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Psychological issues such as stress, anxiety, depression, insecurity about your physical appearance, fear or relationship issues
  • Having sex too soon after giving birth or having a surgery in the pelvic region