Barbara Poczyniak, R.Ac, Reg. Acupuncturist
Pain during intercourse or foreplay is also known as dyspareunia. It is surprisingly common among women and may occur at different stages of life for different reasons. In the landmark “Sex in America” survey it was estimated that 20% of women experience dyspareunia. Other estimates are even higher, reporting that up to 3 out of 4 women will experience this type of pain at some time in their lives. Does this affect you and if so, how to find help?
What pain during sex means at different life stages
Approximately 15% of women may experience pain during intercourse before menopause and approximately 33% of women will experience this post-menopause. For some women, it may only be a temporary problem, for others it continues on a long term basis. If you are experiencing frequent or severe pain during sex it is important to see a health care professional. Your doctor can help diagnose any medical conditions or discuss related issues.
What are the causes of dyspareunia
One of the most common reasons for painful or uncomfortable sex is caused by lack of lubrication (often related to changes in hormone levels due to peri-menopause and menopause or use of certain medications). Other causes may include skin disorders, inflammation or reflex contraction issues.
Common medical issues that may cause pain during sex
There are a number of gynecologic conditions that may cause pain during sex, including:
Other causes to consider
Other than the above medical reasons, sometimes the causes are emotional. An individual's state of mind can make it hard to relax for instance, whereas guilt, shame and embarrassment about sex can make it awkward and physically uncomfortable. Feelings of stress or fatigue can also affect how receptive a woman feels during lovemaking.
Relationship issues may also be an important factor to consider when it comes to physical pain. Problems with her partner, such as long standing disagreements can often interfere with a woman's enjoyment and ability to relax and let go. Past traumas or abuse may also present themselves in this manner, in which case counseling or other talk therapy is highly recommended.
Birth control pills have also been linked to pain during sex for some women. In “Female Sexual Pain Disorders”, Andrew Goldstein, MD says the Pill causes overproduction of sex hormone-binding globulin, which attaches to vulvar tissue and causes biochemical changes that may produce pain. Normalizing hormone balances can treat Pill-related pain successfully.
It is important to remember that pain during sex is not normal, and should not be ignored or “put up with”. It could be a sign of a more serious issue that requires your attention. Speak to your health care provider and seek out the appropriate medical advice. In most cases it can also be complemented by natural therapies such as Acupuncture, Arvigo® Therapy or talk therapy.
Are you experiencing pain during sex and would like help with this issue? I offer Acupuncture and Arvigo® Therapy and I would be happy to answer your questions. Contact me here for your complimentary 20 minute consultation.
"When Sex is Painful"; The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
"National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior", Indiana University School of Public Health
“Female Sexual Pain Disorders: Evaluation and Management”, Andrew Goldstein MD
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Hi, I'm Barbara Poczyniak. Registered Acupuncturist practicing in Toronto.