Painful sex may have many causes and for many women this pain becomes chronic. Though painful sex is medically known as dyspareunia and affects up to 20% of women in the U.S., family doctors and obstetrician-gynecologists often dismiss pain as superficial, proposing non-medical and overused suggestions. Examples suggested are using more lubricant during vaginal intercourse instead of investigating and treating the real problem, which may be chronic pelvic floor tightness.
Women feel ashamed and embarrassed about their continual pain and tend to normalize it, accepting that suffering is the only way to have a healthy, adult sexual life.
Normalizing and dismissing painful sex prioritizes male pleasure because women begin to believe that sex can only enjoyable for their male partners, not for themselves. However, sex does not have to be painful and when it is with the proper medical attention painful sex can get better.
In Milli’s Peer & Pro Tips, Shelby Hadden of Tightly Wound and Stephanie Prendergast, MPT and co-founder of Pelvic Health and Rehabilitation Center, share their advice and expertise on the topic of painful sex and penetration discomfort.
Peer Shelby Hadden recounts her own experiences seeing multiple doctors who dismissed her pain until finally finding one who was able to help her. She encourages other women to do the same or even directly reach out to pelvic floor physical therapists or pelvic floor specialists as some do not require a doctor’s referral. Her website tightlywoundfilm.com provides location-specific resources for women suffering from pelvic pain.
What Causes Pelvic Pain During Intercourse?
Treatable Causes of Painful Sex
Pro Stephanie Prendergast lists the common medical diagnoses associated with painful sex including:
- genitourinary symptoms of menopause
- interstitial cystitis
- pelvic floor disorder
- dermatological disease
- side effects during or after cancer treatments
Stephanie says painful sex may be caused by a variety of physical impairments such as:
- compromise in the vulvar tissue through infections, hormones, and skin disease
- pelvic floor muscle pain
- peripheral nerve dysfunction
- surgical trauma to tissues muscles or nerves
Painful Sex Can Get Better!
Find a Practitioner in Your Area
Remember, painful sex is a valid and treatable medical condition that can get better. If you are experiencing any of these conditions or would like more information about your specific challenges, consult a healthcare professional.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions in these videos are of the individual speaking in each video and intended to give the viewer general educational content. These viewpoints should not be attributed to Materna Medical or its affiliates (Milli, Materna Prep, etc.).