Painful intercourse (dyspareunia)

Painful intercourse can occur for a variety of reasons — ranging from structural problems to psychological concerns. Many women experience painful intercourse at some point in their lives.

The medical term for painful intercourse is dyspareunia (dis-puh-ROO-nee-uh) — which is defined as persistent or recurrent genital pain that occurs just before, during or after intercourse. Talk to your doctor if you're experiencing painful intercourse. Treatments focus on the underlying cause, and can help eliminate or reduce this common problem.

Symptoms Causes

If you experience painful intercourse, you may feel:

  • Pain only at sexual penetration (entry)
  • Pain with every penetration, even while putting in a tampon
  • New pain after previously pain-free intercourse
  • Deep pain during thrusting
  • Burning pain or aching pain
  • Throbbing pain, lasting hours after intercourse

When to see a doctor

If you experience recurrent pain during sex, talk to your doctor. Treating the problem can help your sex life, your emotional intimacy and your self-image.

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