Dyspareunia (Pain with sex) - Symptoms and Treatment Options

Are you experiencing pain during sex? You're not alone. Dyspareunia, or pain during intercourse, affects many individuals and can have a significant impact on both physical and emotional well-being. In this article, we'll explore the symptoms of dyspareunia, answer common questions about pain during sex, and discuss various treatment options to help you find relief.

Symptoms of Dyspareunia:

Dyspareunia can manifest in various ways, and its symptoms may differ from person to person. Some common signs and symptoms include:

  1. Pain: Pain during penetration is a hallmark symptom of dyspareunia. This pain can range from mild discomfort to severe and may be located in the vaginal or pelvic region.

  2. Burning Sensation: Some individuals may experience a burning or stinging sensation during or after intercourse.

  3. Tightness or Discomfort: Tightness in the pelvic floor muscles or discomfort in the genital area can contribute to pain during sex.

  4. Post-Coital Pain: Pain that persists after intercourse, lasting for hours or even days, is another common symptom of dyspareunia.

  5. Emotional Distress: Experiencing pain during sex can lead to feelings of frustration, anxiety, and even relationship strain, impacting one's overall quality of life.


What causes pain during sex?

Pain during sex can be caused by various factors, including hormonal changes, vaginal dryness, pelvic floor muscle dysfunction, psychological factors, infections, or underlying medical conditions such as endometriosis or pelvic inflammatory disease.

How can I relieve pain during sex?

Treatment options for dyspareunia include ruling out more sinister pathology such as pelvic inflammatory disease, fibroids, endometriosis or infection. Once these have been investigated then treatment often involves pelvic floor physiotherapy and the use of pelvic floor wands, dilators, breath work, and mobility exercises. It's essential to consult with a healthcare provider to determine the underlying cause and appropriate treatment plan.

Is pain during sex normal?

While occasional discomfort during sex may be common, persistent or severe pain is not normal and warrants evaluation by a healthcare professional.

Can emotional issues contribute to pain during sex?

Yes, emotional factors such as stress, anxiety, relationship problems, or a history of trauma can contribute to or exacerbate pain during sex. Its important to address these facets in a well rounded treatment plan! 

When should I see a doctor about pain during sex?

If you experience persistent or severe pain during sex, it's important to see a healthcare provider. They can help identify the underlying cause and recommend appropriate treatment options.

Treatment Options for Dyspareunia:

  1. Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy: Pelvic floor physiotherapy, performed by trained professionals, focuses on assessing and treating pelvic floor muscle dysfunction. These specialised physiotherapists can provide personalised exercises and techniques to help relax and strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. To find a pelvic floor physiotherapist near you, visit BIEN's Practitioner Locator.

  2. Pelvic Floor Wand: Pelvic floor wands are innovative tools designed to assist with pelvic floor relaxation and release. When used correctly, they can help alleviate tension and discomfort in the pelvic region.

  3. Dilators: Dilators are devices used to gently stretch and expand the pelvic floor muscles. They can be beneficial for individuals experiencing tightness or discomfort during penetration, helping to desensitise the area and improve flexibility of the tissue.

  4. Breath work: Incorporating breath work techniques can help promote relaxation of the pelvic floor muscles. Deep breathing exercises, combined with mindfulness and relaxation techniques, can reduce tension and allow the pelvic floor to lengthen and relax. 

  5. Mobility Exercises: Engaging in regular mobility exercises, such as yoga or Pilates, can help improve overall flexibility and reduce pelvic floor muscle tightness. Stretching and gentle movements can promote blood flow to the pelvic area, supporting pelvic floor health. You can find a range of free resources on our website!

Dyspareunia can be a challenging condition, but with the right approach, relief is possible. By understanding the symptoms, seeking appropriate medical guidance, and exploring various treatment options, individuals can take proactive steps towards improving sexual comfort and overall well-being. Remember, you're not alone, and there are resources and support available to help you on your journey to pain-free intimacy.