| Caroline Knight

When Sex Hurts: Dyspareunia and why it is a Broad Term


When sex hurts, we don’t always know why. It is obviously scary and distressing to when something that should be pleasurable and natural results in pain. However, for many women, this is the reality. It is important to try and get to the bottom of the reasons sex hurts, so that you can find a solution and resume normal balance in your relationships. Dyspareunia (the name for painful sex) is no laughing matter, but it is a broad term.

In this article we’ll take a look at why this is and some of the reasons you may be having painful intercourse.  


When sex hurts, finding the cause is important


Dyspareunia is often linked to underlying physical or psychological problems. The term refers to any kind of pain related to sexual activity, whether that is before, during or after sex. If the cause is not obvious, it can be tempting to brush the problem under the carpet it in the hope that it will get better… and it might. It also might not, and the longer you go without a healthy sex life, the more of an impact this can have on your self-esteem and your relationships.


To make matters a little more confusing, there are actually two types of dyspareunia. The first is superficial dyspareunia, which relates to the pain felt around the point of penetration. A large penis, an infection or anything that affects libido or hormones could be behind this pain. Superficial dyspareunia also refers to painful sex caused by psychological disorders.


Then there is deep dyspareunia, which refers to sex-related pain deeper in the vagina. When sex hurts and you feel it nearer to the cervix, womb or ovaries, this is deep dyspareunia. You may feel aching or burning sensations, and they may be caused by conditions such as ovarian cysts, endometriosis or pelvic inflammatory disease.


What does it mean when sex hurts?  


If you’re experiencing dyspareunia, a part of you (body or mind) isn’t functioning as it should be. The reason dyspareunia is such a broad term is that there are so many possible reasons for it. If the cause of dyspareunia is physical, your symptoms might be related to malfunctioning Bartholin glands. These are the glands that lubricate the vagina during sexual excitement. As you might imagine, when these are not working properly, you won’t be lubricated properly and this can result in friction and tears in the vaginal lining. The more tense you become, the worse this gets – it can even become a cycle as you start to anticipate it and tense up.


There are other physical reasons for dyspareunia. When sex hurts, you might already have a problem with inflammation caused by another condition. This may be a yeast infection or STD, for example. Some women may experience dyspareunia because of pelvic nerve damage (pudendal neuralgia).


Hormonal issues can also result in vaginal dysfunction. For example, the menopause could lead to vaginal atrophy. Certain surgical procedures (such as hysterectomy or removal of other reproductive organs) may also damage the muscles of the pelvic region or alter hormone balance, leading to painful intercourse. Physical causes of dyspareunia need to be carefully assessed and diagnosed by your healthcare practitioner.

Are your thoughts the cause of painful sex?


If you don’t have a physical condition causing your dyspareunia, there may be a psychological reason. For instance, vaginismus is a common condition often caused by negative anticipation before sex. This causes the vagina to contract and spasm, making sex difficult and often painful, so it is linked to dyspareunia.


If sex hurts, it could be because you simply don’t feel like it. If your libido has dipped, you might need to see a doctor; the reason could be hormonal, stress related, or age related. It could even be that you just don’t feel attracted to your partner anymore, or you’re worried about your appearance or ability to perform; whatever the reason, if you’re forcing yourself or you’re not relaxed, sex is more likely to hurt.


Unfortunately there are a lot of women out there who have been through some kind of sexual or psychological trauma in the past. Even if the conscious mind appears to have let go of it, these experiences can lay dormant in the subconscious, affecting your associations with sex. Again, relaxing becomes difficult and the result may be dyspareunia. If you suspect this may be the reason sex is painful for you, it may be time to see a sexual health counselor.


When sex hurts, you can find a way out. We know that many of our readers benefit from using vaginal dilators, since they can help you to work with physical causes and prepare you for sex when the cause is psychological. Our site has so much information designed to help you, but you should also feel free to contact us if you think we can help with anything.


This article was posted by VuVatech. VuVatech has their own line of Magnetic and Silicone Vaginal Dilators for Pelvic Pain. Learn more here: Vuvatech.com/pages/how-vuva-vaginal-dilators-work 



VuVa Dilators on Netflix!

Well what a surprise!!! A few years back we received an email from the props department on the Sex Education show on Netflix. They asked if we could send them a vaginal dilator set for their show. We couldn't say yes fast enough! 

Checkout Sex Education on Netflix: Season 2 Episode 8