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. This will result in painful intercourse and an itching, tingling or burning sensation.
Common causes of painful intercourse
Painful intercourse may be caused by the following:
- Allergic reactions to birth control products, such as latex or foams
- Anxiety or stress
- Injury from sexual abuse
- Irritation to the nerves in the vulvar region
- Rashes in the vulvar region
- Recurring yeast infections
- Sexually transmitted infections, such as gonorrhea, Chlamydia and herpes
- Scarring from previous pelvic surgery
- Skin irritation from chemicals, such as detergent, soap, and feminine hygiene products
- Vaginal dryness after menopause
- Vaginismus (involuntary muscle spasms of the vaginal wall)
Gynecologic causes of painful intercourse
- Painful intercourse can also be caused by conditions that affect the genital organs including:
- Endometriosis (presence of uterine lining tissue outside the uterus)
- Ovarian cysts or tumors
- Uterine fibroids or benign tumors
Serious or life-threatening causes of painful intercourse
In some cases, painful intercourse may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated by a health care provider. These include:
- Cancers of the vagina, uterus, cervix, or other adjacent organs
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID, infection of a woman’s reproductive organs)
Questions for diagnosing the cause of painful intercourse
To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will ask you several questions related to your painful intercourse including:
- Do you always have pain with intercourse?
- Do you have any other symptoms?
- How long have you experienced painful intercourse?
- What medications are you taking?
What are the potential complications of painful intercourse?
The potential complications of painful intercourse depend on their cause. Getting prompt treatment of injuries or infection can help you avoid serious complications, such as deformity or widespread infection. Painful intercourse associated with serious medical conditions may have long-term and even potentially life-threatening complications. Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care professional design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential problems. Left untreated, conditions that cause painful intercourse may lead to the following complications:
- Sepsis (life-threatening bacterial blood infection)
- Sexual dysfunction
- Spread of cancer
- Spread of infection
Vulvodynia. ACOG American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/publications/patient_education/bp127.cfm. Accessed May 18.
Vulvodynia. FamilyDoctor.org. http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/women/reproductive/sex-dys/367.html. Accessed May 18, 2011.
What is painful intercourse?
Painful intercourse is 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.... Read more about painful intercourse introduction
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.... Read more about painful intercourse symptoms