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What Causes Painful Sex and How to Solve it?

Having an active sexual life is not only normal nowadays, but also a healthy lifestyle for people who live in a committed relationship or have multiple partners. However, a portion of people suffer from a rare condition that impedes them from enjoying a normal sexual life. If you’re experiencing painful sex and you’d like to know more about the causes and how to solve them find out some solutions in this article.

Painful Sex for Women

Painful sex, also known as dyspareunia, is more common in women than men. It can happen more often than you think and it can often occurs for limited periods of time, however some women experience this pain for many years or since they begin to be sexually active. The pain can be felt before, during or even after sexual intercourse and it can go from a feeling of tightness to an excruciating pain that impedes a normal sexual life.

Common Causes

As we mentioned, dyspareunia could have many degrees of severity and it can last only for a while or it can be constant and present in a woman’s life for many years. This will depend on what’s causing the pain, but here are the most common causes.

  • Vaginismus

Vaginismus causes many women to experience painful sex. This health condition consists of involuntary muscle spasms or cramps from the vaginal walls. When these cramps happen at the time of penetration it can make it uncomfortable and even painful for the woman.

  • Illnesses

There are plenty of illnesses or health issues that can affect the way women experience their sex life, making it uncomfortable and even painful. Vaginal or urinary infections can cause the vaginal tract to get inflamed and promote painful intercourse. Some types of neuralgia (chronic pain) can make up for painful and unbearable sex, while conditions such as endometriosis can make it difficult for women to engage in sex without feeling an excruciating pain.

  • Hormonal Problems

Low estrogen levels are responsible for dyspareunia in many women, especially those who are going through menopause, women who just had a baby or many other rare hormonal imbalances.

Related: How to Have Enjoyable Sex during Pregnancy

  • Congenital conditions

Although a bit more rare than other causes, congenital conditions could be the cause of painful intercourse and an abnormal sexual life. A poorly formed vagina, imperforated hymen and other congenital deformities in the vagina could be the cause of painful sex.

  • Injuries or trauma

If a woman has experienced some sort of trauma to the reproductive system such as an accident or rape it could cause uncomfortable and painful intercourse. Other injuries such as female circumcision and the episiotomy (a cut made to the vagina during childbirth) can also promote pain.

  • Skin issues

If a woman suffers from skin issues such as eczema, dermatitis or even gets very bad allergies from materials such as the latex from condoms, it could cause irritation during sex and a very painful intercourse.

  • Lack of lubrication

This is probably the most common cause of painful sex. A lack of proper lubrication in the vagina is often related to insufficient foreplay, but sometimes it can be caused by a drop of estrogen levels in the body or some medications affecting sexual desire.

  • Psychological issues

Psychological causes can be the toughest to treat when it comes to painful sex. These can be linked to anxiety, depression, stress, fear or intimacy or even a past of sexual abuse can contribute to women feeling pain during sex.


Just as there are plenty of causes that can be causing painful sexual relations in women, there are many ways in which this issue can be treated. It all really depends on getting the right diagnosis, since the remedies are very diverse and different from each other.

  • Medications

When painful sex is being caused by a physical condition such as infections, skin issues or hormonal problems; there are plenty of medications that can be prescribed. In the case of infections, this must be treated immediately to prevent infection to the partner and reduce the pain; hormonal conditions can be treated by hormonal therapy and lack of lubrication can be treated with the prescription of the right lubricant.

  • Desensitization therapy

When painful sex is being caused by vaginal malformations, vaginismus and similar issues, there’s a thing called desensitization therapy that could help. This consists of relaxation exercises of the vagina and even training it to accept penetration in a calm manner to reduce pain when sex happens.

  • Sexual therapy or counseling

For many women the best way to overcome pain during sex is going to sexual therapy or counseling, since the cause of their pain is contactual or emotional. Therapy can improve communication with the partner and they can agree on more and better foreplay and discuss whatever issue might be causing this mental blocking.

  • Surgery

In some extreme cases when the woman has a physical condition that’s impeding normal intercourse, it might be necessary to undergo surgery to fix the problem. If a woman has an imperforated hymen, for example, a simple surgery can help create an opening, or fix a malformation that’s causing painful sex.

Painful Sex for Men

Even though it might be a little less common, men can also experience uncomfortable and even painful intercourse. The penis is a very delicate part of the body that can also be put under a lot of stress during sex and, in the wrong conditions, it can get hurt, irritated and be at risk. But what typically causes painful sex for men?

Common Causes

Unlike women, men don’t really experience hormonal changes that might be harming their reproductive organs; but there are still plenty of things that could irritate or hurt the penis and make them have painful sexual intercourse.

  • STDs

Some sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as chlamydia and genital herpes could end up promoting an infection of the prostate, urethra or even the testes. This infection originates in inflammation and discomfort that of course gets worse during intercourse.

Related: Tips for Men and Chlamydia: the “Cloaked” STD

  • Allergic reactions

If a man is allergic to some materials such as latex or rubber from condoms, their skin will get irritated and even inflamed to the point where more friction (caused by penetration) will only make the pain worse, even unbearable.

  • Penis deformities

Although this point sounds very worrisome it’s actually the most common cause of painful sex in men. There are many types of deformities regarding a man’s penis, such as the foreskin being too long that it doesn’t deploy completely during sex, the foreskin being too narrow and preventing the head of the penis from being correctly exposed, or the penis can be arched more than usual which is uncomfortable and painful unless the right position is found.

  • Health conditions

If a man suffers from prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate) the discomfort and pain will worsen with the friction of intercourse. Another health issue a man can experience is painful ejaculation, where the seminal conducts are inflamed and it can hurt greatly when the man ejaculates. There’s also something called the Peyronie’s disease, where some fibrous plaques in the upper side of the penis make it bend painfully during an erection.

  • Female secretions (or the lack of them)

Believe it or not, female secretion can play a major role in the man experiencing a painful intercourse. If a woman has very acidic secretions or some fungal issue, it can irritate the skin of the man and cause painful sex. Also, the lack of secretion or natural lubrication of the vagina can cause the dry rubbing to irritate or even create cuts on the penis.

  • Lower back problems

Arthritis in the lower back or any type of back lesions can cause pain during sex, not directly related to the penis but the movements of the man can make the experience painful, uncomfortable and even dangerous for their health.


While men have a more limited range of causes why they might experience painful sex, there are still plenty of options doctors can recommend to treat these issues and help them have a healthy and active sexual life.

  • Medication

This is the solution when men are experiencing painful sex due to an infection, an STD or an uncommon inflammation of the bladder, prostate or seminal conducts. Medication is necessary to stop this illness and help them experience normal sex.

  • Corrective surgeries

When a man is experiencing pain during sex because of a penis deformity it might be recommended by a doctor to undergo corrective surgery, which is typically small and presents no risk for the patient. These surgeries usually correct deviations of the penis or remove excess foreskin or help it deploy correctly.

  • Lubrication

Lubrication is the solution to have better and pain-free intercourse in most cases for both men and women. The right type of lubrication will create a safe environment for both the penis and the vagina to complete penetration in a safe manner that can actually be enjoyed by both participants.

  • Physiotherapy

Since some men experience painful sex because of certain postural or back problems, it might be necessary to go to physiotherapy to fix these issues and help men get aligned, so they can enjoy sex naturally.

As you can see, there are plenty of reasons why you or your partner might be experiencing painful sex, but there’s also plenty of things you can do about it. Don’t think you’ll have to go through life suffering in your sexual life, reach out to your health provider and find the ideal treatment for you so you can get your sexual life back on track!

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