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Alternative Names Return to topPainful sexual intercourse; Dyspareunia
Definition Return to top
For both men and women, pain can occur in the pelvic area during or soon after sexual intercourse. It can happen at any time during sex -- for example, at the time of penetration, erection, or ejaculation -- or after sexual activity.
Eventually, ongoing pain may cause a person to lose interest in any sexual activity.
The medical term for this is dyspareunia.
Causes Return to top
Home Care Return to top
For painful intercourse in women after pregnancy:
For vaginal dryness/inadequate lubrication:
For painful intercourse caused by prostatitis:
For hemorrhoids, try stool softeners. Antibiotics may be required for urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted diseases, or vaginal infections.
Other causes of painful intercourse may require prescription medications or, rarely, surgery.
Sex therapy may be helpful, especially if no underlying medical cause is identified. Guilt, inner conflict, or unresolved feelings about past abuse may be involved which need to be worked through in therapy. It may be best for your partner to see the therapist with you.
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your doctor if:
If you have been sexually assaulted, report the crime to the police and go to the emergency room immediately. Get a trusted friend to accompany you. DO NOT change, bathe, shower or even wash your hands before the ER evaluation. The temptation to do so will be great, but it is important to not lose any evidence in order to help find, charge, and convict the suspect.
What to Expect at Your Office Visit Return to top
Your doctor will take your medical history and perform a physical examination.
Medical history questions may include:
It may be best to see the doctor together with your partner. Physical examination may include a pelvic examination (for women), a prostate examination (for men), and a rectal examination. If a physical problem is suspected, appropriate tests will be ordered.
Antibiotics, painkillers, or hormones are amongst the treatment options that may be considered.
Prevention Return to top
References Return to top
National Institutes of Health. National Institutes of Health State-of-the-Science Conference statement: management of menopause-related symptoms. Ann Intern Med. 2005;142(12 Pt 1):1003-1013.
Klein MC, Kaczorowski J, Firoz T, Hubinette M, Jorgensen S, Gauthier R. A comparison of urinary and sexual outcomes in women experiencing vaginal and Caesarean births. J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2005; 27(4): 332-339.
Mahutte NG. Medical management of endometriosis-associated pain. Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am. 2003; 30(1): 133-150.
Eyler AE; Biggs WS. Medical human sexuality in family medicine practice. In: Rakel RE, ed. Textbook of Family Medicine. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: WB Saunders; 2007:chap 55.
Lentz GM. Emotional aspects of gynecology: sexual dysfunction, eating disorders, substance abuse, depression, grief, loss. In: Katz VL, Lentz GM, Lobo RA, Gershenson DM, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2007:chap 9.Update Date: 8/1/2008 Updated by: Linda Vorvick, MD, Seattle Site Coordinator, Maternal & Child Health Lecturer, Pathophysiology, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine; Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine; Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Redmond, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.