What is painful sex?

Painful Sex
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Painful sex: Overview

Painful sex can include pain before, during, or after sex. It can be caused by many things, such as an injury, an infection, or a growth on the genitals or internal sex organs. Or maybe you have muscle spasms. In some cases, the pain is caused by another medical condition.

Some medicines or menopause can cause dryness in the vagina. This dryness can make sex painful.

Talk to your doctor about what might be causing your painful sex. Treatment may help.

How can you care for yourself if sex is painful?

Here are some things you can try that may help your pain.

  • Use a lubricant during sex, such as Astroglide or K-Y Jelly. Lubricants can be water-, silicone-, or oil-based. Ask your doctor about what kind may be a better option for you.
  • Increase the time you and your partner spend touching each other before sex. This is called foreplay.
  • Try different positions for sex to find the most comfortable ones.
  • Ask your doctor about exercises for your pelvic muscles.
  • Before sex, take a warm bath. This can relax you and reduce anxiety.
  • If your doctor prescribes any medicines, take them exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.

What causes pain during sex?

Pain during sex may be caused by: "

  • Vaginal dryness. This may be caused by hormone changes or certain medicines.
  • Vaginismus (say "vadj-uh-NIZ-mus"). This is an involuntary contraction of the vagina.
  • Scarring in the vagina from injury, surgery, or childbirth.
  • Conditions that affect the penis, such as peyronie's disease or phimosis.
  • Infections, such as sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • Chronic pain conditions, such as vulvodynia.
  • Skin conditions, such as lichen sclerosus or lichen planus.
  • Skin irritation from douche, spermicide, or latex condoms.
  • Pelvic conditions, such as endometriosis, ovarian cysts, or prostatitis.
  • Feelings of stress, fear, or anxiety about sex or your relationship.
  • Sexual assault or trauma in your past.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.