Dyspareunia: Painful Sex in Women
Dyspareunia, a condition that causes pain among women while having sexual intercourse. So what causes dyspareunia? What are the symptoms to look out for, and how can we deal with them? Let’s find out
For the longest time, the conversation around a woman’s sexuality was brushed under the carpet. A woman showing any kind of interest or inclination towards sex was seen as someone having loose morals. We mean come on, a lot of us must have heard elder relatives in our families or acquaintances label some woman as “characterless” just because she was sexually active.
However, this disdain toward a woman’s sexuality has resulted in two very detrimental consequences. The first is the social and cultural one. A lot of women especially those belonging to older generations did not get to develop a very healthy attitude towards sex. They had no idea about sex and its nuances, till on their wedding night when they were suddenly expected to do the “deed”.
The second consequence is the physical one which is also deeply intertwined with the social and cultural aspects. Many women saw and continue to see sex as something that men “do to women” and not something that both men and women do together. As sad as it sounds, even to date this is the sex education that many women around the country receive “ Only have sex once you are married. On your wedding night, lay down, and let your husband do whatever he wants. It might hurt initially but it will go away with time. This meant that there was little scope to discuss when women experiences some issues in their sexual life and even if they experienced any discomfort, they were expected to suck it up and deal with it.
1. What is Dyspareunia?
Dyspareunia is one such condition that many women deal with yet there is very less discussion about it. Dyspareunia is a condition when women experience pain during intercourse. Unfortunately, most women have been brought up with the notion that sex is support to hurt, hence they do not notice any abnormality when they have painful intercourse.
However, painful sexual intercourse is not normal at all and if you experience pain every time you have sex, it’s time to consult a doctor. If you are suffering from dyspareunia, you may feel pain in the external vulva region or the labia or lips as we call them. You may experience it internally, near your uterus or lower abdomen. It is a sad reality that many women across the globe suffer from dyspareunia and since it is often not treated, the number of women suffering from this condition simply keeps increasing. Dyspareunia can create a deep psychological impact on women and it may also lead to intimacy issues and relationship problems in future.
2. What causes Dyspareunia?
Pain during intercourse can happen due to a lot of reasons However, one of the most common reasons for it is lack of lubrication down there. Normally when we women are sexually aroused, we get wet down there and through this process, our body prepares us for penetration. However, in case we aren’t wet down there, penetration can feel quite painful since there is no lubrication to smoothen the entire process. In such situations, it is important to relax and try to enjoy the moment. More foreplay can help you feel more aroused and consequently get wet down there and of course, our beloved friend lube can help in such scenarios. However, apart from lack of lubrication a lot of other factors can also be responsible for painful intercourse. Few of them include
Vaginal atrophy : It is a condition where the vagina loses its natural lubrication and thickness leading it to become dry, thin and inflamed. Now, don't confuse it with just not being able to get “wet” down there. Rath, er this is a more permanent situation caused by certain medications, menopause, and hormonal change. And this dry state of the vagina can lead to pain during intercourse.
Vaginismus: This can be caused owing to an unhealthy relationship with sex. If someone has had a traumatic experience in the past or they are afraid of sex in general, it can cause spasm in the vaginal muscles thereby causing painful intercourse.
Vaginal Infections: Aahhh! These culprits can ruin anything and everything including sex. Vaginal infections including yeast infections can indeed make sex a painful experience
Issues in ovaries and uterus: Dyspareunia can have serious underlying reasons like issues with your ovaries and uterus. Ovarian cysts and fibroids in your uterus can lead to painful intercourse.
STIs: Yes ladies and gentlemen, if you were looking for another reason to practise safe sex, here it is. STIs can cause pain during intercourse. So if you want to continue having good and pain-free sex, may we suggest having safe sex?
Symptoms of Dyspareunia
Of course, pain down there while having sex is the most obvious of dyspareunia, but you might want to keep an eye out for the following kind of pain
- Sharp pain especially during the time of penetration
- Deep pain during thrusting.
- Throbbing pain after intercourse.
- A Burning sensation down there during and after intercourse.
- Cramps in the pelvic region.
- Muscle tightness or spasms.
If you feel these kinds of pain during your intercourse and especially if they recur time and again, it is time for you to sit up and take notice
1. How can Dyspareunia be treated among women?
If dyspareunia stems from causes of lack of lubrication down there, then you can try having more foreplay and use lube as well while getting down and dirty and it can make sex a pleasurable experience for everyone.
However, Some treatments for female sexual pain may require a doctor's intervention. If vaginal dryness is due to menopause, you may need to seek the professional help of a doctor and get estrogen creams or other prescription medications. As we have seen, dyspareunia may have other more serious underlying reasons like issues with your uterus and ovaries. There you need professional medical attention.
Further, if dyspareunia is triggered due to trauma and stress, sexual therapy can go a long way in dealing with that.