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Pain During Sex — Why Does This Keep Happening?

Pain During Sex — Why Does This Keep Happening?

Nearly 75% of women experience pain during sex, or dyspareunia, at some point in their lifetimes. Dyspareunia ranges from mild discomfort to severe pain and can develop before, during, or after sexual intercourse.

Recurrent pain with sex can be incredibly frustrating. Worse than that, it can seriously impact your sexual and emotional well-being. 

It isn’t always easy to determine what causes pain during intercourse, but you aren’t alone. Heather Auld, MD, and our team at SWFL Integrative Medicine in Fort Myers, Florida, provide comprehensive gynecology care, and we specialize in diagnosing and treating pain during sex.

Common causes of painful intercourse

Although many women experience pain during sex, it’s not normal, and you shouldn’t try to ignore it. Here are a few of the most common causes: 

Vaginal dryness

One of the most common causes of recurrent pain during sex is vaginal dryness. Vaginal dryness causes itching and discomfort and can also make penetration painful.

There are several possible causes of vaginal dryness, and the condition gets more common with age. That’s because estrogen levels decline during menopause, and estrogen is a hormone that helps maintain your vagina’s natural moisture level.

While menopause is the most common cause of vaginal dryness, it can also happen during breastfeeding or as a side effect of certain medications.


Endometriosis is a gynecologic condition that can cause pain during intercourse. It affects about 11% of American women and develops when tissue that lines your uterus starts growing outside of it.

Endometriosis causes pain and inflammation in your pelvic area. While this pain can happen outside of intercourse, many women find that endometriosis pain worsens during sex.


Infections can also cause pain during sex. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), yeast infections, and bacterial vaginosis cause inflammation, itching, and burning in the vaginal area, making sex uncomfortable.

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a chronic infection of your reproductive organs. It doesn’t always cause noticeable symptoms, but when it does, discomfort or pain during sex is one of the most common complaints.

Physical conditions

Physical issues are another common cause of painful intercourse. For example, vaginal prolapse is a condition that occurs when the muscles and ligaments that support your pelvic organs weaken. It makes your uterus drop and press against the vaginal wall, making sex uncomfortable.

Ovarian cysts can also cause painful intercourse. Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs that form on the ovaries, and they’re a common symptom of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

What to do about pain during sex

If sex is painful for you, you should seek treatment. Dr. Auld and our team provide compassionate care for women of all ages, and we’re here to help you find answers.

We do a comprehensive physical exam, take your medical history, and ask questions about your symptoms. Once we reach a diagnosis, we work with you to develop a treatment plan to manage your symptoms and make sex more enjoyable.

Emotional and psychological factors can also play a role in recurrent pain during sex. Anxiety, depression, and past sexual trauma can all contribute to a decrease in sexual desire and an increase in pain during sex, and we consider all the factors to help you get the treatment you need.

You deserve an enjoyable and pain-free sex life, and our team is ready to help. Call our Fort Myers, Florida, office at 239-208-6676 or request your first appointment online today.

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