Dyspareunia: definition

Dyspareunia is pain felt in women or men during sexual intercourse.

However, dyspareunia is a medical term that is more commonly used to refer to pain during sexual intercourse in women. Dyspareunia affects 20% of women in France.

A figure surely lower since many women do not talk about the pain they feel during vaginal or even anal penetration. Although this is the most common case, pain does not only appear during vaginal penetration but also before or after.

And most often during this pain, the pelvic floor muscles contract abnormally ( because of secondary vaginismus for example). In all cases, a consultation with a specialist is necessary to determine the origin of this pain:

Rare physical causes:

  • Congenital malformations of the vulva, hymen or vagina;
  • Side effects of certain treatments (brachytherapy or radiotherapy);
  • Infections: vulvovaginitis caused by fungal infections, inflammations, STIs, etc.
  • Diseases affecting the mucous membranes: lichen, for example;

All physiological causes: psychological and/or physical trauma (related to childhood, adolescence or adulthood), poor body image, severe sexual education, depression, anxiety, sometimes phobias unconscious of sexual intercourse, etc.

The different types of pain

There are two main forms of dyspareunia, superficial dyspareunia and deep dyspareunia .

Dyspareunia is said to be superficial when pain is present from the start of penetration. Pain appears at the vulvar level…

Dyspareunia is said to be deep when the pain is felt deep in the vagina or even in the lower part of the vagina.

Furthermore, there are also 2 types of dyspareunia :

  • We speak of primary dyspareunia when the pain has always been present, from the first sexual intercourse.
  • When the pain appears at a later time in the life of the woman who has already had sexual intercourse several times before, we will then speak of secondary dyspareunia.

It's important to talk about it!

Sex is above all a moment of pleasure. It is therefore important that these reports go perfectly!

If any pain appears, the first person to report it to is his partner so that he can adapt/change his behavior. Communication remains essential during sexual intercourse, it is the best tool so that there is no confusion.

If the pain persists, it is better to take a short break to make an appointment with a sexual health professional. There is no shame or embarrassment in having to consult because it is in no way your fault.

Other ways to nourish your sex life with your partner

However, it is entirely possible to have sex without penetration and have maximum pleasure! 😊

Some couples then develop sexuality without penetration but lead a sex life filled with pleasure through foreplay , oral sex , massages, caresses , etc. and therefore feel no need to consult.

Using a vibrator may also be an option! 🔥

“If it is impossible to insert a sex toy into the vagina, we can use clitoris massagers,” logically announces Valérie Tasso.

Being patient with your body, following your desires, talking about it with a professional and lubricating your genitals or anus well when trying to use sex toys is the secret to a fulfilling sex life , even for women. people with vaginismus or dyspareunia!

If a couple consults when development is present despite vaginismus, it is commonly to have a baby. Although it remains rare, it is possible for a woman to become pregnant without penetration using the so-called “syringe” method. However, if you wish to consult, do not hesitate to do so with your partner!

What are the causes of dyspareunia?

If you experience pain during sexual intercourse, it is essential to identify the cause.

It is therefore important to consult your doctor or a gynecologist to subsequently pursue “normal” sexuality filled with pleasure. Many causes can be at the origin.

First of all, the psychological causes. Dyspareunia can occur following a traumatic event related to the genital system. This sudden disorder can be the cause of sexual violence, a disastrous medical appointment, a fall, strict education, a lack of information... This results in vaginismus and therefore an unconscious contraction of the muscles of the perineum .

Another reason for dyspareunia can be a medical cause such as endometriosis , pelvic inflammatory disease , ovarian cyst or even a fibroid .

There are also psychological causes .

Pains appear due to stress or apprehension.

Women with penetrative pain may experience intense fear of pain and anxiety before or during vaginal penetration; when women anticipate a recurrence of pain during penetration, their vaginal muscles contract, making it even more painful. more painful attempts at sexual intercourse. However, most affected women can enjoy sexual activity without penetration. For these reasons, the easiest thing is often to communicate with your partner.

Proof that communication is the key to successful sexual relations! 😊

Infections can also be the cause of pain during sexual intercourse. It could be vaginal yeast infections, STIs or many others…

In addition to these causes, there are also less common ones such as malformations of the female genital tract.

Depending on the origin of the cause, the pain can be more or less deep as seen previously. For example, if the pain results from endometriosis, it will be a deep pain and the pain will be felt deep in the vagina or even in the lower part. However, if it is a psychological cause, the pain will be superficial.

What are the symptoms of dyspareunia?

Although said previously that the symptoms of dyspareunia are pain felt from the first contact during vaginal penetration, deep in the vagina or even in the lower abdomen and even before or after penetration, but what are the types of pain?

The pain may correspond to burning sensations , itching , tingling , etc., however other symptoms may occur.

Indeed, other symptoms exist such as vaginal spasms (vaginismus), a drop in libido , a drying out of the vaginal wall or even a loss of confidence in women which can lead to depression. 😕

Treating dyspareunia is possible!

There are different treatments depending on the origin of the dyspareunia. When experiencing pain during vaginal penetration, it is important to listen to your body to better understand the symptoms and discuss them with your doctor or a gynecologist. So they can give you the treatment best suited to your situation.

However, we can distinguish the treatments in two different forms depending on the origin of the pain during sexual intercourse. If it is psychological pain, it is commonly recommended to consult a sexologist , a physiotherapist or even a psychologist to help you better understand the origin of this pain.

Furthermore, if it is a physical dyspareunia, it is strongly recommended to use an intimate gel if the pain results in vaginal burning. You can also spend more time on foreplay ...maybe your body isn't feeling enough pleasure yet.

If this is the case, you should not hesitate to use communication treatment with your partner, a free and very effective treatment 😊.

How to avoid/prevent dyspareunia? 

  • consult a doctor in the event of recurring pain during sexual intercourse to determine the cause;
  • use lubricants for local application in case of vaginal dryness and especially during sexual intercourse. Hormonal treatments or the use of vaginal laser may be recommended in cases of vaginal dryness linked to menopause;
  • wear cotton underwear;
  • favor period panties (preferably cotton) over sanitary napkins and tampons;
  • use a suitable soap that respects the genital flora. Avoid deodorants and intimate freshness sprays;
  • avoid wearing panty liners too often
  • above all, do not do vaginal douches;
  • consult a sexologist or couples therapist in the event of relationship difficulties with your partner;
  • address psychological issues that contribute to and result from chronic pain;
  • extending the time of foreplay can optimize desire and vaginal lubrication ;
  • quickly treat vaginal or urinary inflammations/infections; 
  • avoid sexual intercourse in the event of damage to the genital area. Treat these;
  • consult a psychologist or psychiatrist in the event of post-traumatic psychogenic dyspareunia (history of sexual abuse, intense pain during childbirth, etc.) or vaginismus;
  • avoid the use of latex (or other allergens) in case of allergy;
  • treat chronic stress (yoga, relaxation, meditation, hypnosis, sophrology, etc.);
  • maintain a healthy lifestyle (balanced diet, regular physical activity, etc.).

In cases of deep dyspareuria, penetration can be avoided and replaced by other practices.

Know this : you can have just as much pleasure during sex, or even more, without penetration. Especially since the female orgasm is not produced by the vagina but by the clitoris.



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