Causes of Painful intercourse (or Dyspareunia) & How to Treat Them

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Happy holidays!  It’s the end of the year already.  The end of a very turbulent year with signs of progress in the sex industry and sex education field.  We are having more conversations about sex.  As a people, we are opening up and becoming more vocal about our own sexual pleasure.  This is good news.  About time.

One of the things that we are not talking a lot about though is the painful parts of sex.  The parts about the physical body that cause pain or discomfort due to any factor that changes the ability to have pleasurable sex.

Painful Intercourse


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Painful intercourse (or dyspareunia) can be a huge problem that limits your sexual ability and can happen to all genders. This may happen for several reasons, such as an illness, an infection, or a psychological or physical problem. You should also see a doctor to treat any STD that may be the cause of painful intercourse.  While its my belief that you need to abstain from sex whenever you have or have been exposed to an STD, it happens.

Some infections like thrush and cystitis can cause painful sex. Sex may also be uncomfortable because you are not relaxed or aroused enough before going straight to intercourse. It’s important to take the time to figure out what the cause of your issues are.  What could be driving the pain and what can you do to fix it.

For Penis Owners

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In penis owners, painful intercourse can be caused by physical things such as:

  • A prostate, urethra or testes infection caused by genital herpes and chlamydia.
  • An allergic reaction to spermicide in the condom.
  • Bending the penis during an erection can cause fibrous plaques on the upper side of the penis. This is called Peyronie’s disease.
  • Arthritis of the lower back can also cause sex to be painful.

When you find yourself having an allergic reaction to a condom or lube wash it off immediately. If swelling, rash or itching require medical care, see a doctor right away.

For Vulva Owners

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Painful sex in vulva owners can be as simple as not having enough lubrication to having an STD. A lack of foreplay can result in painful sex if the vagina owner does not have enough time to get turned on and produce lubrication. Other causes include a drop in estrogen after menopause, childbirth or during breast-feeding, which may cause painful sex as well. Medications may sometimes affect sexual desire or arousal which can lower the amount of lubrication the vagina produces, resulting in painful sex.

Some of these issues are treatable and some are manageable. If vaginal dryness is due to menopause, ask your primary doctor about estrogen creams or other prescription medications.

Call a doctor if there are symptoms such as bleeding, genital lesions, irregular periods, vaginal discharge, or involuntary vaginal muscle contractions.

STDs That Cause Painful Intercourse

Here are two STDs you should be aware of that can cause pain during sex.

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Painful urination and discharge from the genitals are two simple symptoms of Herpes that you should take note of, as early treatment is simple and effective, some in a single dose of antibiotics.  Herpes shows itself 5 to 20 days after exposure. It is good to know these symptoms, when there are visible signs of a virus and pain during sex, it can really throw a cramp in your play.


Itching and burning, red rash, red glans and vaginal soreness are signs of a yeast infection.  The presence of thick and lumpy discharge with a smell are also signs you may have an infection. Treatment includes antifungal cream 2 times a day, antibiotics and practicing good hygiene. In case of severe cases of phimosis for penis owners, circumcision or a similar surgical procedure may be necessary.

It is important to see your primary health practitioner if you have any physical, psychological or emotional issues concerning painful intercourse including infections, STDs, or disorders to get treatment right away.

Sexual Therapy

For cases of sexual pain in which there is no underlying medical cause, sexual therapy might be helpful. Some individuals may need to resolve issues such as guilt, inner conflicts regarding sex, or feelings regarding past abuse or trauma.

I use a combination of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), talk therapy and physical exercise to address client issues with painful intercourse. It is important that you consider these forms of therapy that can lead you to more pleasurable sex.  Working with me, you can overcome barriers such as holding yourself so tense during intercourse it is painful, to not knowing the best positions to use to avoid pain during sex.

Set up an appointment with me if there are other issues regarding painful sex, that need to be addressed.



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