Dyspareunia is painful sexual intercourse, due to medical or psychological causes. The symptom is reported almost exclusively by women, although the problem can also occur in men. The causes are often reversible, even when long-standing, but self-perpetuating pain is a factor after the original cause has been removed.


Dyspareunia is pain that occurs only (or primarily) during sexual intercourse. It is not a disease, but rather a symptom of an underlying physical or psychological disorder.

The pain, which can be mild or severe, may appear in the genitals, the pelvic region, or the lower back. The condition is much more common among women.

A lot of women experience sexual pain. A recent Swedish survey suggested that it occurs in 9.3 per cent of females, with the incidence being higher among the young and inexperienced and relatively low among the over-50s.

It’s not much fun having pain during intercourse. After all, sex is meant to be an enjoyable and happy experience. If you get pain, it isn’t.

Types of dyspareunia

There are two main types of dyspareunia, which are classified according to the site of pain.

Superficial Dyspareunia is pain on attempted penetration. This may be due to size disparity (the erect penis is too large for the vaginal entrance), an intact or thickened hymen, or vaginismus (spasm of the pelvic floor muscles that causes temporary narrowing of the vagina).

Deep Dyspareunia is pain at the top of the vagina related to thrusting, often associated with pelvic disease, e.g. endometriosis.

Pain can include burning, tearing or aching sensations.

Symptoms in women

When pain occurs, the woman experiencing dyspareunia may be distracted from feeling pleasure and excitement. Both vaginal limages1ubrication and vaginal dilation decrease. When the vagina is dry and undilated, thrusting of the phallus is painful. Even after the original source of pain (a healing episiotomy, for example) has disappeared, a woman may feel pain simply because she expects pain. In brief, dyspareunia can be classified by the time elapsed since the woman first felt it.

During the first 2 weeks or so, dyspareunia caused by phallus insertion or movement of the phallus in the vagina or by deep penetration is often due to disease or injury deep within the pelvis.

After the first 2 weeks or so, the original cause of dyspareunia may still exist with the still experiencing the resultant pain. Or it may have disappeared, but the woman has anticipatory pain associated with a dry, tight vagina.


Dyspareunia is considered primarily physical, rather than emotional, unless proven otherwise. Various factors could cause dyspareunia, a few of which are:

  • Allergic reaction to a personal hygiene product.
  • Hormonal changes caused due to aging.
  • Tipped or retroverted uterus.
  • Endometriosis “ a condition when the endometrium (the tissue lining the uterus) grows outside the uterus causing pain during coitus.
  • Bacterial or yeast infections
  • Vulvodynia – a condition in which the vulva is hypersensitive and extremely tender to touch.
  • Pelvic floor myalgia “ involuntary muscle spasms and pelvic floor muscle spasms can result in dyspareunia.
  • Physical problems such as scar tissue due to abdominal surgery or delivery that has lead to distortion in anatomy.
  • Emotional factors such as guilt, tension or anxiety about sex, depression, or prior physical trauma.

Whether you’re female or male, you shouldn’t disregard pain occurring during intercourse. If it happens more than once, it’s time to contact us. Very often, the problem is curable.

Sometimes the pain is functional. Which means there is no definite cause but the patient feels and complaints about severe pain. This happens when the patient has sometime felt the pain due an acute infection or injury and even after a period of time she still fears that pain or perhaps feels false pain during intercourse.

Discuss your symptoms with your doctor. Depending on the situation, you may need to see a doctor who specializes in women’s problems. You may also contact our doctors through online consultation and discuss all the details with them. You may also opt for specialized treatment plans which are formulated according to your specific needs under direct supervision of our sexologists and herbalists.