What Causes Pain During Sex?
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What Causes Pain During Sex?

September 28, 2023

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Pain during sex can put a huge damper on your intimate relationships. Here’s what causes painful intercourse and what you can do to make your sex life fun again.


Sex is supposed to be fun, and for many people, it is. But what about those who want to enjoy sex, but can’t? For some of us, sexual intercourse causes pain that lasts long after the sheets have cooled. If you’ve accepted the idea that painful intercourse is something you’ll have to deal with for the rest of your life, don’t give up yet. You deserve to enjoy intimate relationships just as much as anybody else.


No one should have to resign themselves to a lifetime of painful sex. The conditions that commonly cause pain during and after penetration can be prevented and treated. Keep reading to learn what causes pain during sex and how to combat it with the help of Mixhers Libido and other available treatment options

What Is Dyspareunia

Pain during sex is referred to medically as dyspareunia. Both men and women can experience dyspareunia, though it is more common in women. If you have dyspareunia, you may have recurring or persistent pain right before, during, or after sexual intercourse.


Painful sex is more common than you might think. In fact, it’s one of the most common problems gynecological doctors encounter and treat. It’s estimated that anywhere between 10% and 20% of the adult population in the United States will experience painful intercourse at some point in their lives.


There are different types of dyspareunia. They include the following:


  • Primary pain: This refers to persistent pain experienced since becoming active sexually.
  • Secondary pain: If you are able to have pain-free sex but you develop pain after intercourse, you are experiencing secondary pain from dyspareunia.
  • Situational pain: People may experience situational pain with dyspareunia, which only happens at certain times or during certain positions.
  • Complete pain: This type of pain occurs every time you have sex.


In addition to these categories, dyspareunia can be further divided into the categories of deep pain or entry pain. Deep pain refers to pain that occurs in the cervix or lower abdomen during deep penetration. Usually, prior surgery or a medical condition is responsible for deep pain. Entry pain is felt during penetration and occurs at the entrance to the vagina. Several factors can lead to entry pain, including infection, injury, or insufficient lubrication.

What Are the Symptoms of Dyspareunia?

The symptoms of dyspareunia are pretty straightforward. Basically, if you consistently experience painful sex, you likely have dyspareunia. The pain may affect a variety of areas, including your vagina, lower back, bladder, pelvic region, or uterus. Some women with dyspareunia even experience pain when inserting tampons. Here are some common symptoms people with dyspareunia experience during sex: 

  • Pelvic cramping
  • Deep pain (especially during thrusting)
  • Sharp pain at entry or penetration
  • Burning sensations
  • Muscle spasms
  • Aching or throbbing sensation after intercourse


For some women with dyspareunia, the pain dissipates soon after they have sex. For others, pelvic pain persists long after penetration.

What Causes Painful Intercourse?

There are many possible causes of dyspareunia. Let’s go over each of the possible causes in greater detail.


Lack of Lubrication


Do you ever feel like there’s too much painful friction going on during intercourse? If so, you may be dealing with insufficient vaginal lubrication. Hormone imbalances are often to blame for vaginal dryness. Bringing your hormones back into balance may help relieve this condition. You can also rely on sexual lubricants to help reduce vaginal pain during intercourse.


Remember that women often need more time than men to achieve sufficient sexual arousal. So if your partner likes to do the deed in 60 seconds flat, kindly bring up the fact that women need some time to get properly lubricated. Excessive vaginal dryness can make intercourse less enjoyable for both parties involved. Suggest putting aside additional time for foreplay if you ever have pain during sex due to dry vaginal tissue.




A vaginal infection can make sex unbearably painful. Vaginal infections (also called vaginitis) are very common. They include the following:


  • Yeast infections
  • Trichomoniasis
  • Bacterial vaginosis


Some of these infections are considered sexually transmitted diseases while others are not. Some women are surprised to discover that douching is a common cause of vaginal infections. Additionally, wearing tight-fitting clothing or clothing made from synthetic materials increases your likelihood of developing an infection.


Even certain soaps and perfumes can lead to vaginitis because they disrupt the natural pH of your vagina. For the sake of your reproductive health, it’s best to only allow plain old water near your vagina since fragranced products can lead to an infection.


If you’re trying to avoid pregnancy, you should know that certain birth control products (specifically spermicide products) may also increase your risk of vaginal infections.




Vaginismus is usually caused by prior trauma (often stemming from sexual abuse) and is a psychological condition that causes physiological changes to the body. People with vaginismus experience intense spasms of the vaginal muscle during intercourse or in anticipation of intercourse. As the vaginal opening tightens up, it can lead to sexual pain.


Pelvic Inflammatory Disease


Pelvic inflammatory disease is often a complication of gonorrhea, chlamydia, and other sexually transmitted diseases. Pelvic inflammatory disorder may cause lower abdominal pain, burning with urination, bleeding after sex, and vaginal discharge.


Prompt treatment is important for avoiding infertility and other complications from pelvic inflammatory disease. If you think you have pelvic inflammatory disease, you and your sexual partner should both be tested and treated as needed.




Fibroids are noncancerous growths or lumps in the uterus. They can range significantly in size and do not always cause symptoms. In extreme cases, fibroids can become so large and prevalent that they distort the shape of the uterus. Women who experience symptoms from fibroids may develop any of the following: 

  • Frequent urination
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Constipation
  • Long menstrual periods (often lasting longer than a week)
  • Leg pains or backaches
  • Frequent urination
  • Pelvic pain or pressure on the pelvic muscle
  • Difficulty fully emptying the bladder


The Mayo Clinic recommends seeing your doctor if you have unexplained low red blood cell count, bleeding or spotting between periods, or pelvic pain that doesn’t go away. You should seek immediate care if you ever experience a sudden onset of sharp pelvic pain or severe bleeding from your vagina.




Endometriosis is a disease that occurs when tissue that is similar to endometrial tissue (in the uterus) grows outside of the uterus. Usually, this tissue grows on the fallopian tubes, ovaries, and around the uterus. In rare cases, it can also travel to other parts of the body.


Endometriosis is usually painful, though in some cases symptoms may be minimal. Endometriosis is especially prevalent among women between the ages of 30 and 40 and can impact fertility due to internal scar tissue. If you are a woman with endometriosis, you may experience painful sexual intercourse.


Lack of Sexual Arousal


Sometimes, pain during sexual intercourse can be caused by a lack of sexual arousal. If you engage in sexual activity when you have no sexual desire and your body is not primed for sex, it’s more likely to hurt. There are many potential reasons for lack of sexual arousal, including menopause, previous traumatic experiences with sex, or hormone imbalances.


Poor mental health can also lead to a lack of sexual desire as well as decreased satisfaction with life and personal relationships. If you occasionally feel disinterested in sex, don’t worry. That’s perfectly normal. It’s only when the lack of sexual arousal is persistent that you should start to worry.


Talking to a doctor or therapist may help you address the underlying cause of your sexual disinterest. You may also wish to try a hormone-balancing product such as Mixhers Libido to see if it helps increase your libido and sexual health.


Genital Irritation


It makes sense that intercourse won’t feel great if you’re dealing with any type of genital irritation. Female genitals are ultra-sensitive to outside influences, which is why you should avoid using any soaps, perfumes, or other feminine hygiene products that cause genital itchiness, redness, or irritation.


If you and your partner use condoms during intercourse, your sexual discomfort may stem from a latex allergy. Try using other birth control methods for a while to see if your genital irritation goes away. You may also want to schedule a pelvic exam if you can’t figure out what’s causing your sexual pain.


Vaginal Atrophy


Vaginal atrophy is a condition that can make intercourse painful and occurs when the vaginal wall becomes thin and inflamed. Vaginal atrophy typically occurs after menopause and is caused by low estrogen levels. It can lead to vaginal dryness and happens to as many as 70% of women who have gone through menopause.


Ovarian Cysts


Ovarian cysts are very common. They are sacs filled with fluid that are located in or on the ovaries. They usually form during ovulation (which occurs every month when an ovary releases an egg). Most ovarian cysts are harmless, though some can cause severe pain during ovulation and intercourse.


If an ovarian cyst bursts, it can potentially lead to ovarian torsion and can significantly increase pain. Other common signs of ovarian cyst rupture include dizziness, fever, weakness, and unexpected vaginal bleeding.




Vulvodynia refers to chronic pain that occurs around the vaginal opening (the vulva). This condition is pretty mysterious because there is no known cause. Most cases of vulvodynia last at least three months. The irritation and pain associated with this condition can make sex unbearable. It can even make it impossible to sit for long periods of time.


Some women with vulvodynia may only experience pain in a localized area of the vulva, while other women may experience pain in multiple locations. Many women describe the pain from this condition as an unbearable burning sensation.


Potential causes of vulvodynia may include:


  • Genetic factors
  • Muscle spasms
  • Hormonal changes
  • Frequent antibiotic use
  • Hypersensitivity to yeast infections
  • Nerve injury
  • History of sexual abuse
  • Allergic reaction to certain chemicals


This condition can impact women of all ages and ethnicities.


Ectopic Pregnancy


Ectopic pregnancy refers to a pregnancy that occurs when the embryo attaches outside of the uterus. Usually, ectopic pregnancies occur in the fallopian tubes. These pregnancies can cause significant abdominal pain and inflammation that can make sex intolerable. Ectopic pregnancies are life-threatening and require emergency treatment.


Intercourse Too Soon After Childbirth or Surgery


It’s important to follow your doctor’s recovery instructions after childbirth or surgery. Your body needs time to recover from these types of traumatic experiences. Engaging in sex too soon after either of these situations can lead to pain and potential injury.


Sexually Transmitted Disease


There are many varieties of sexually transmitted diseases, and most of them are capable of causing mild to intense sexual pain. Some examples of common STDs include herpes, genital warts, and sores. Since STDs are highly contagious, it’s important to treat them and take precautions when having sex.


Pelvic Floor Muscle Dysfunction


The pelvic floor consists of the muscles that extend from the coccyx at the back of the pelvis to the front of the pelvis. They look a lot like a hammock and help hold the uterus, bladder, and bowel inside the pelvis.


Pelvic floor muscle dysfunction occurs when you can’t relax or coordinate your pelvic floor muscles. People with this condition often have trouble with bowel movements and may experience urine or stool leakage. Pain during intercourse is another possible symptom associated with pelvic floor muscle dysfunction.


Psychological Issues


Low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and other psychological issues can cause sex to feel painful to you. They can also prevent you from achieving sexual arousal. Past sexual abuse is another common cause of pain and aversion to sex.

How Do I Know If This Is a One-Time Thing?

It’s not unusual for sex to hurt every once in a while. Usually, occasional sexual pain is due to vaginal dryness. But if sex frequently feels painful to you, you likely have some type of condition that needs to be addressed or treated.

Should I Be Worried?

Some types of sexual pain warrant a visit with your healthcare provider. Schedule an appointment if you experience any of the following:


  • Genital lesions
  • Unusual bleeding
  • New or worsening pain during intercourse
  • Unusual vaginal discharge
  • Irregular periods
  • Involuntary contraction of pelvic floor muscles or vaginal muscles
  • Symptoms of a urinary tract infection


A doctor may be able to get to the root of your pain and provide you with recommendations to help make sex enjoyable again.

What Causes Sexual Response Problems?

If you frequently have problems with your sexual response or your ability to orgasm or feel pleasure during sex, you may be experiencing sexual dysfunction. Many women experience this at some point, while some may struggle with sexual response problems for most of their lives. Symptoms of sexual response problems include:


  • Low sexual desire
  • Orgasmic disorder
  • Sexual pain disorder
  • Sexual arousal disorder


There are a variety of factors that can lead to sexual response problems, including imbalanced hormones, physical diseases and conditions, and psychological or social issues. Sexual response problems may also stem from previous sexual abuse.

Could Tampon Use or Overuse Be Causing the Pain?

There is no evidence that tampon use can cause pain during intercourse. But if you engage in sex while wearing a tampon, the tampon could press against your cervix and cause pain. Additionally, if you fail to change your tampons regularly, you could develop a dangerous infection that could lead to pain during sex and could be life-threatening. To avoid complications from using tampons improperly, read and follow the usage instructions on your tampon box. 

How Can I Treat Dyspareunia?

Possible solutions for dyspareunia include:


  • Receiving a pelvic exam
  • Using lubricants during sex
  • See a pelvic floor specialist
  • Receiving hormone replacement therapy
  • Receiving MonaLisa Touch treatments (which revitalize and activate the vaginal mucosa to return vaginal function to normal)
  • Taking hormone-balancing supplements to support good sexual health and function


If you opt to use a lubricant, use one that is water-based. This type is less likely to cause genital irritation.

How Can My Partner Support Me?

It helps to have a patient and understanding partner when you’re dealing with the troubling effects of dyspareunia. But remember, your partner can’t help you unless you communicate what is going on. Explain that you are experiencing pain during intercourse and that you might need to take things slow or reduce the frequency of sex for a little while. Tell your partner what feels good to you and what is uncomfortable. You may also need to spend more time in foreplay to prepare your body for sexual intercourse.

How Can Mixhers Libido Help?

Mixhers Libido may be able to reduce your dyspareunia symptoms. It contains safe and natural ingredients that are valued for increasing sex drive and may help you achieve optimal sexual health for your best sex life. Visit Mixhers resources to learn more about this incredible product and other products that may help boost your sexual confidence and overall health.

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