What is painful intercourse?

Painful intercourse is recurrent pain or discomfort in the genitals during or after sexual intercourse. The pain may be described as a raw sensation or as a burning, itching or stinging feeling. Painful intercourse is medically known as dyspareunia.

Depending on the cause, painful intercourse may be a persistent problem or it may occur sporadically. It could improve or worsen with movement or sexual activity. Further, painful intercourse may range in intensity from mild to severe. Symptoms caused by injury often have a sudden onset, such as those following sexual abuse. Other symptoms may develop slowly, such those related to infectious disease.

The causes of painful intercourse vary widely among individuals and they can be organic, emotional, or psychogenic. One of the most common is pain or discomfort in the vulva (vulvodynia), which may be due to skin irritation from rashes or household chemicals. Painful intercourse may also occur if you have experienced any damage or injury to any of the external structures of the vulva (the genitals) or to the internal sexual organs, such as the vagina, cervix, ovaries or uterus. Further, recurring infections, such as vaginal yeast infections or sexually transmitted diseases, can be associated with painful intercourse. Precancerous conditions and vulvar or cervical cancer can also cause pain during intercourse.

At times, painful intercourse is related to a chronic, underlying disease that affects not only the reproductive system but also other parts of the body. Sometimes perceived painful intercourse is actually due to psychological symptoms following sexual abuse, rape, or trauma.

Painful intercourse alone is rarely a serious medical condition; however, it may be associated with symptoms of a serious or life-threatening condition. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you have sudden high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit), severe pain, chills, or rapid heart rate (tachycardia).

If your painful intercourse is persistent or causes you concern, seek prompt medical care.


What other symptoms might occur with painful intercourse?

Painful intercourse may accompany other symptoms. These vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that frequently affect the sexual organs may also involve other body systems.

Vulvar symptoms that may occur along with painful intercourse

Painful intercourse may accompany other symptoms affecting the vulvar region including:

Read more about painful intercoursesymptoms


What causes painful intercourse?

Infections and skin disorders may cause painful intercourse. Disease or injury of any of the structures in the vulvar region can result in painful intercourse. In addition, painful intercourse can be caused by underlying conditions that involve the body as a whole, including the genitourinary tract and gastrointestinal tract. This will result in painful intercourse and an itching, tingling or b... Read more about painful intercoursecauses

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 20, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Sexual Health

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