1- What You Need to Know About Dyspareunia (Painful Intercourse)

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1- What You Need to Know About Dyspareunia (Painful Intercourse)

Overview

Dyspareunia is the term for recurring pain in the genital area or within the pelvis during sexual intercourse. The pain can be sharp or intense. It can occur before, during, or after sexual intercourse

Dyspareunia is more common in women than men. It has many possible causes, but it can be treated

?What causes dyspareunia

Several conditions can cause dyspareunia. For some women, it’s a sign of a physical problem. Other women may experience pain as a result of emotional factors

Common physical causes of dyspareunia include

vaginal dryness from menopause, childbirth, breastfeeding, medications, or too little arousal before intercourse

skin disorders that cause ulcers, cracks, itching, or burning

infections, such as yeast or urinary tract infections (UTIs)

injury or trauma from childbirth, an accident, an episiotomy, a hysterectomy, or pelvic surgery

vulvodynia, or pain centered in the vulva area

vaginitis, or inflammation of the vagina

vaginismus, or a spontaneous tightening of the muscles of the vaginal wall

endometriosis

cystitis

pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

uterine fibroids

irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

radiation and chemotherapy

Factors that reduce sexual desire or affect a person’s ability to become aroused can also cause dyspareunia. These factors include

stress, which can result in tightened muscles of the pelvic floor

fear, guilt, or shame related to sex

self-image or body issues

medications such as birth control pills

relationship problems

conditions such as cancer, arthritis, diabetes, and thyroid disease

history of sexual abuse or rape

why you should pee after sex

?What are the symptoms of dyspareunia

Dyspareunia pain can vary. Pain may occur

in the vagina, urethra, or bladder

during penetration

during or after intercourse

deep in the pelvis during intercourse

after pain-free intercourse

only with specific partners or circumstances

with tampon use

along with burning, itching, or aching

with a feeling of stabbing pain, similar to menstrual cramps

?Who’s at risk for dyspareunia

Both women and men can experience dyspareunia, but the condition is more common in women. Dyspareunia is one of the most common problems of postmenopausal women

Around 75 percent of women have painful intercourse at some time, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). You’re at an increased risk if you

take medications that cause vaginal dryness

have a viral or bacterial infection

are postmenopausal

?How’s dyspareunia diagnosed

Several tests help doctors identify and diagnose dyspareunia. Your doctor will start by creating a complete medical and sexual history. Possible questions your doctor may ask you include

?When and where do you feel pain

?Which partners or positions cause pain

?Do any other activities cause pain

?Does your partner want to help

Are there other conditions that may be contributing to your pain

A pelvic examination is also common in diagnosis. During this procedure, your doctor will look at the external and internal pelvic area for signs of

dryness

inflammation or infection

anatomical problems

genital warts

scarring

abnormal masses

endometriosis

tenderness

The internal examination will require a speculum, a device used to view the vagina during a Pap test. Your doctor also may use a cotton swab to apply slight pressure to different areas of the vagina. This will help determine the location of the pain

The initial examinations may lead your doctor to request other tests, such as

pelvic ultrasound

culture test to check for bacteria or yeast infection

urine test

allergy test

counseling to determine the presence of emotional causes

?How’s dyspareunia treated

Medications

Dyspareunia treatments are based on the cause of the condition. If your pain is caused by an underlying infection or condition, your doctor may treat it with

antibiotics

antifungal medicines

topical or injectable corticosteroids

If a long-term medication is causing vaginal dryness, your physician may change your prescription. Trying alternative medications may restore natural lubrication and reduce pain

Low estrogen levels cause dyspareunia in some women. A prescription tablet, cream, or flexible ring can deliver a small, regular dose of estrogen to the vagina

An estrogen-free drug called ospemifene (Osphena) acts like estrogen on vaginal tissues. It’s effective in making the tissues thicker and less fragile. This can reduce the amount of pain women experience with sexual intercourse

Home care

These home remedies can also reduce dyspareunia symptoms

Use water-soluble lubricants. Purchase water-soluble lubricants here

Have sex when you and your partner are relaxed

Communicate openly with your partner about your pain

Empty your bladder before sex

Take a warm bath before sex

Take an over-the-counter pain reliever before sex. Find a selection of pain relievers online

Apply an ice pack to the vulva to calm burning after sex. Shop for ice packs

very important

Alternative therapies

Your doctor may also recommend therapy. This can includedesensitization therapy or sex therapy. In desensitization therapy, you’ll learn vaginal relaxation techniques, such as Kegel exercises, that can decrease pain

In sex therapy, you can learn how to reestablish intimacy and improve communication with your partner

Preventing dyspareunia

There’s no specific prevention for dyspareunia. But you can do the following to reduce the risk of pain during intercourse

After childbirth, wait at least six weeks before resuming sexual intercourse

Use a water-soluble lubricant when vaginal dryness is an issue

Use proper hygiene

Get proper routine medical care

Prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) by using condoms or other barriers

Encourage natural vaginal lubrication with enough time for foreplay and stimulation

?What’s the outlook for dyspareunia

Alternatives to sexual intercourse may be useful until underlying conditions are treated. You and your partner can use other techniques for intimacy until penetration is more comfortable. Sensual massage, kissing, oral sex, and mutual masturbation may be satisfying alternatives

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