What are the causes of painful sex? Pain that has a sudden onset is called acute and can be experienced for many reasons. In women, specifically in relation to the reproductive system, these can include spontaneous abortion (miscarriage), ectopic pregnancy, ovarian cysts or ovarian torsion.
You should go directly to your local Accident & Emergency department if you have abdominal pain which is:
- does not go away within a short time period
- is accompained with fever and/or confusion or any other significant changes in your health/behaviour
- occurring during pregnancy.
Pain which only tends to occur during penetrative sex, or is aggravated by this, is experienced by as many as 15% of women. The general term used to describe this kind of pain is dyspareunia. It can be caused by quite superficial contact with the genitalia or with deeper penetration. The degree of pain experienced can range from the uncomfortable to the distressing. It can be sufficient to discourage any penetration.
There can be several reasons why pain of any level can occur in relation to sexual activity:
Skin conditions - including thinning of the skin after the menopause.
Endometriosis – this usually causes pain deep inside the vagina.
If sex becomes associated with pain of any degree, then it may recur in anticipation of any sexual activity even when the original cause has been dealt with. Any pain should be discussed with your doctor who will take the action necessary to try to deal with it. This can involve both physical treatments or referral to a counsellor or therapist when the causes are thought to be psychological.
Sex should not be painful so see your doctor or make an appointment at your local Sexual and Reproductive Health clinic or Integrated Sexual Health Clinics (formerly Genito-urinary GUM) Clinic where you will get help. To make an appointment call 0300 303 0251 (lines open 9.00 a.m. to 4.45 p.m. Monday to Friday)