Pain during intercourse is very common—nearly 3 out of 4 women have pain during intercourse at some time during their lives. For some women, the pain is only a temporary problem; for others, it is a long-term problem. The internal female reproductive organs and the external female genitals. Pain during sex may be a sign of a gynecologic problem, such as ovarian cysts or endometriosis.
Pain during sex also may be caused by problems with sexual response, such as a lack of desire the feeling of wanting to have sex or a lack of arousal the physical and emotional changes that occur in the body as a result of sexual stimulation.
You may feel pain in your vulva , in the area surrounding the opening of your vagina called the vestibule , or within your vagina. The perineum is a common site of pain during sex. You also may feel pain in your lower back, pelvic region, uterus, or bladder. If you have frequent or severe pain during sex, you should see an obstetrician—gynecologist ob-gyn or other health care professional.
It is important to rule out gynecologic conditions that may be causing your pain. Your ob-gyn or other health care professional also can help you address problems with sexual response. Pain during sexual intercourse can be a warning sign of many gynecologic conditions.
Some of these conditions can lead to other problems if not treated:. Your medical and sexual history, signs and symptoms, and findings from a physical exam are important factors in determining the cause of your pain. Sometimes, tests are needed to find the cause. A pelvic exam or ultrasound exam often gives clues about the causes of some kinds of pain.
Further evaluation, sometimes involving a procedure called a laparoscopy , may be needed. You also may be asked about medications that you are taking, whether you have any medical conditions, and past events that may affect how you feel about sex, such as sexual abuse. Other health care professionals may be consulted for further evaluation and treatment, such as a physical therapist or a dermatologist a specialist in diseases of the skin.
There also are some self-help measures you can try to relieve pain during sex:. Endometriosis: A condition in which tissue that lines the uterus is found outside of the uterus, usually on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and other pelvic structures.
Episiotomy: A surgical incision made into the perineum the region between the vagina and the anus to widen the vaginal opening for delivery. Laparoscopy: A surgical procedure in which an instrument called a laparoscope is inserted into the pelvic cavity through a small incision.
The laparoscope is used to view the pelvic organs. Other instruments can be used with it to perform surgery. Masturbation: Self-stimulation of the genitals, usually resulting in orgasm. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease: An infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes, and nearby pelvic structures. Perimenopause: The period before menopause that usually extends from age 45 years to 55 years.
Ultrasound Exam: A test in which sound waves are used to examine internal structures. Vagina: A tube-like structure surrounded by muscles leading from the uterus to the outside of the body.
Vestibule: The space within the labia minora into which the vagina and urethra open. The information does not dictate an exclusive course of treatment or procedure to be followed and should not be construed as excluding other acceptable methods of practice. Variations, taking into account the needs of the individual patient, resources, and limitations unique to institution or type of practice, may be appropriate.