Why Do Some Women Have Pain During Intercourse?
Pain During Intercourse is Unfortunately Common
If you’re a woman who has pain during intercourse, you’re not alone. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 3 out of 4 women on average experience painful intercourse at some point.
Sometimes, the issue is temporary and can be resolved with simple solutions. Other times, the problem is more complex and may require integrative therapies like Hormone Replacement Therapy. A hormone imbalance is one of the most common causes of sexual dysfunction and painful intercourse in women.
Read on the learn more about why women may experience pain during intercourse, the symptoms, and the treatments available to help.
Symptoms of Pain During Intercourse in Women
There are different types of pain and discomfort included in the umbrella of pain during intercourse. These include:
- Pain when penetrated (this may occur only during sexual intercourse, or you may also feel pain when using a tampon or other menstrual product).
- A deep-set pain, burning, or aching during intercourse.
- Throbbing pain that may last for minutes to hours after intimacy.
- Vaginal dryness that leads to discomfort during intercourse.
Pain during intercourse is often accompanied by other signs of female sexual dysfunction, or FSD. In addition to pain, you may feel:
- An inability to reach orgasm.
- Low sex drive or libido.
- An inability to maintain sex drive during intimacy, even if you felt like being intimate at the beginning.
All of these symptoms combined can make intimacy an uncomfortable and stressful experience. Unfortunately, emotional distress can cause muscle tension, which can make pain and discomfort during intercourse worse – creating an unpleasant cycle.
Fortunately, there are treatments and steps women who have pain during intimacy can take to ease their discomfort. We’ll cover several more common causes of painful intercourse and which treatments to try based on the cause. If you’re experiencing pain, a consultation with an experienced medical provider is your best option to determine the cause(s) and a treatment plan for you.
Pain During Intercourse: A Symptom of Hormone Deficiency
As mentioned previously, hormone imbalance is one of the most common causes of pain during intercourse in women. Most often, the hormone responsible for causing painful intercourse is Estrogen.
Estrogen is important for maintaining sexual and vaginal health. When the body produces too little Estrogen, the vagina can become dry, and its tissues can become thin and less elastic – which leads to discomfort and pain during intercourse.
Other symptoms of a hormone deficiency include:
- Low libido (sex drive)
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Difficulty sleeping or insomnia
- Mood swings and a hard time regulating emotion
- Weight gain in hard-to-lose areas like the stomach
- An overall change in body composition
- Fatigue, a foggy head, and difficulty finding motivation
A hormone deficiency can be caused by menopause or perimenopause (the years leading up to menopause) – but it may also be caused by a number of other factors in women who are not of menopause age.
Comprehensive blood testing is the best way to identify a hormone imbalance. If your results reveal a deficiency or deficiencies, Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) can address the issue to help alleviate your symptoms, including painful intercourse.
BHRT protocols typically include Estrogen and may also include Progesterone, another female hormone, along with Testosterone, which women need as well as men (in smaller amounts).
Hormones often work together and impact each other, which is why a complete protocol typically includes more than one.
There are many forms of BHRT, also called delivery systems. These include:
- Topical application through creams, lotions, and gels
- Implantable pellets
- Vaginal suppositories
- A combination of the above
When you become a patient at Defy Medical, you’ll work with an experienced medical provider to discuss your goals for treatment, symptoms, and test results. Then you and your provider will come up with a care plan tailored to your needs and lifestyle. Learn more about BHRT with Defy Medical.
Other Causes and Treatments for Pain During Intercourse in Women
There are other potential causes for painful intercourse. It’s important to note whether the pain is new and acute (happening for a short period of time) or a longstanding issue. It’s also important to see if factors around intimacy may be causing the discomfort.
Painful intercourse may be caused by:
- A lack of lubrication. This can lead to vaginal dryness that makes sex uncomfortable. Incorporating more foreplay or a safe, water-based lubrication product may help with this issue. You may also want to consider medication that can help increase pleasure topically or boost overall libido for a more enjoyable and heightened experience. If vaginal dryness is caused by a hormone deficiency, hormone restoration can also help alleviate this type of discomfort.
- An injury or irritation. If the pain is new and sharp, injury or inflammation may be the cause. If new pain like this occurs, it’s important to go to your doctor for a check-up. It’s also advisable to wait a couple of weeks before attempting intercourse again, to see if the pain and irritation heal.
- An undiagnosed STD. If you’re experiencing new and unusual pain during intercourse, an STD may be the culprit. If you are sexually active, it’s crucial to regularly test for common STDs to protect your health and the health of your partner(s).
- An ongoing condition. Sometimes vaginal discomfort during intercourse is caused by a chronic condition like scarring from a previous surgery, pelvic inflammatory disease, a congenital illness, endometriosis, and others. Diagnosing and managing the condition is the best way to manage the pain. You may also look into a therapy like Platelet Rich Plasma injections for Vaginal Rejuvenation.
- Emotional factors. Intimacy is often closely linked to emotion. Anxiety, stress, and conflict can lead to muscle tension, which can make sex less enjoyable and potentially painful. If you suspect emotions play a part in pain during intercourse, it’s important to work through issues with your partner and/or attend therapy individually to process stress and trauma. You may also look into integrative treatments like Ketamine Therapy to help you manage anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues.
PRP for Vaginal Rejuvenation to Reduce Pain During Intercourse
Another potential treatment for women who experience painful intimacy is Platelet Rich Plasma injections.
Platelet Rich Plasma, or PRP, is made of growth factors and platelets from the blood. These growth factors are responsible for healing and tissue regeneration, and injecting them directly into targeted areas has shown promising restorative results.
Conditions most commonly helped by PRP injections for vaginal rejuvenation include:
- Dyspareunia, which is the medical term for vaginal pain during intercourse.
- Female Orgasmic Disorder, when a woman is unable to reach orgasm during intimacy.
- Difficulty becoming aroused, often due to sexual dysfunction, decreased sensitivity, and/or insufficient lubrication.
During this in-office procedure, a blood sample is taken from the patient and separated into a concentrated PRP blend. The PRP from the patient’s blood sample is then injected into targeted locations, including the clitoral and urethral areas. The growth factors are expected to encourage new tissue growth and healing that may reduce pain and increase sensitivity. Learn more about PRP for vaginal rejuvenation.