When it comes to painful sex for women, the first thing you should consider is that the problem may be more common than you might think — it affects up to 18% of women worldwide. Also called dyspareunia, pain during intercourse can develop for many reasons, some more common than others.
At Comprehensive Urology, our team of board-certified urologists, led by Dr. Kiarash Michel, specializes in women’s health, and we understand the many problems that can lead to painful sex. Better still, we also provide effective solutions.
Not all pain is the same
Before we get into the potential causes, it’s important to note that painful sex can take on many different forms. For example, you may feel pain upon penetration alone or the pain may develop with deep thrusting. Sometimes the pain can linger after intercourse like a deep ache.
However the pain presents itself, we want you to know that it isn’t normal, and it isn’t something you should simply grit your teeth and bear.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the more common (and not-so-common) causes of painful sex and how we can go about remedying the problem.
A woman’s wellness is closely tied to her reproductive health, which can be made abundantly clear as she passes through menopause. This transition out of your reproductive stage is precipitated by a shutting down of your ovaries, which means you no longer release eggs, and you also lose hormone production.
More specifically, the precipitous drop in estrogen after menopause can lead to vaginal dryness, which affects more than half of women between the ages of 51 and 60. This dryness, not to mention thinning vaginal tissue (vaginal atrophy), are the primary causes of painful sex among women in this age group.
To combat the pain, we recommend one of two treatments: 1) bioidentical hormone replacement therapy to raise your hormone levels, or 2) our innovative ThermiVa® technology, which delivers radiofrequency energy to promote tissue regeneration and encourage collagen production in your vaginal tissue.
Inflammation and infections
Infections — whether they’re vaginal, sexually transmitted, or in the urinary tract — can lead to inflamed tissue in your vaginal walls, which can make intercourse painful. The good news is that we can easily clear up these infections to restore vaginal health.
Pelvic organ prolapse
If your pelvic floor is weak, you may develop pelvic organ prolapse, a condition in which one of the organs in your pelvis shifts out of position. There are many reasons why pelvic organ prolapse can develop, including:
- Surgery (such as hysterectomy)
- Nervous system disorders
Your treatment depends upon which organ has prolapsed, but there are solutions for prolapse, such as exercises or surgical repair.
Other causes of painful sex
Outside of the categories we list above, there are other potential causes of painful sex, including:
- Congenital issues
- Emotional or psychological problems
- Medications or treatments that cause vaginal dryness (think radiation or chemotherapy)
- Reproductive conditions, such as endometriosis or uterine fibroids
The best way to find out what’s behind your painful sex is to come see us, so that we can quickly identify the problem and work toward a solution. To get started, contact our office in the Beverly Grove area of Los Angeles, California, to set up an appointment with one of our women’s health experts.