By Lynn Cadet

If you ever suffered from pelvic pain during sex, you’re not alone. Dyspareunia, a term describing recurring pain in the genital or pelvic area through sexual activity, affects women more than men and can cause intense discomfort. 

When engaging in sex, you want to find pleasure. However, persistent pain can lead to sexual frustration or even complete sexual avoidance. Without knowing the root of your troubles, it will be challenging to solve your intimacy woes. So instead of avoiding intimacy altogether, which can impact your relationship and emotional wellbeing, tackle the source head-on. 

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, about 75% of women will experience painful intercourse at least once in their lifetime. This rate increases with women in the postmenopausal stage. Many women don’t report this issue, and most medical providers don’t ask about it. So it becomes a hidden and shameful topic, a taboo, which leads to social isolation and relationship distress for the women who experience it.  

The best way to overcome this condition is by getting informed. Read on for a rundown on what conditions are associated with pelvic pain and the potential solutions you can apply for a healthier, more fun time in the bedroom.

What Causes It? 

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of it all. What exactly is the culprit behind aggravating pelvic pain? Well, there isn’t one said reason. 

As it is only a symptom, various conditions or even stages of life, like menopause, can cause it. It’s not only categorised by physical sources but dyspareunia can also be brought upon by emotional factors. 

Here is a list of leading causes of pelvic pain:

  • Vaginal dryness linked to menopause, childbirth, medications, or minimal arousal before sex
  • Skin disorders that include symptoms of ulcers, burning, cracks, or itching 
  • Infections, such as yeast or urinary tract infections
  • Injury associated with childbirth, an accident, a hysterectomy, or pelvic surgery 
  • Endometriosis 
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Uterine fibroids 
  • Vaginismus

Emotional influences that affect arousal or reduce sexual desire, which leads to dyspareunia are:

  • Stress, which tightens the pelvic floor’s muscles
  • Fear, guilt, or shame connected to sexual activity 
  • Relationship issues
  • History of sexual abuse or rape
  • Body image issues

The factors most likely to increase your risk include using medication with side effects of vaginal dryness, having a viral or bacterial infection, and being postmenopausal. 

What Can You Do About It?

The first stage is to be appropriately diagnosed. You should visit your gynaecologist to receive a pelvic exam and discuss any issues you are having. Since many people look at this issue as taboo or embarrassing, it is helpful to remember that your doctor has probably heard similar stories many times before and is highly knowledgeable about topics such as this. They are there to help and have helped many patients with this problem. You are not alone in it. 

As for what to expect, your doctor should complete an internal and external examination for any signs and the sources of your pelvic pain. The internal evaluation requires a speculum, which you may be familiar with since it’s also used during Pap tests. I know they are not the most pleasant thing in the world, and they can be uncomfortable and occasionally painful. Still, it is worth a few minutes of discomfort to potentially solve a more infuriating long-term problem. 

You may also be asked to have a pelvic ultrasound, provide a urine test, culture test, and/or engage in counselling for sources of emotional setbacks, depending on what your physician requests. 

Treatment And Solutions

The most important part of the process is finding out what you can do to treat this problem and move past it. Your doctor could suggest a few different options for treatment possibilities, depending on the origin of your problem. It may also be a case of trial and error until you find what works for you. Don’t give up on the issue, be persistent and get it sorted!  

If you have an underlying condition, a doctor may prescribe you medications such as antibiotics, antifungal creams or tablets, or topical or injectable corticosteroids. You can also go to sex therapy sessions to learn some vaginal relaxation techniques and ways in which to improve communication with your partner. 

Here are also some home care solutions to try:

  • Use water-soluble lubricants
  • Run a warm bath before sexual activity
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever before sex
  • Empty your bladder before sex 
  • Use an ice pack to reduce burning after sex 

Hopefully, this information will help you reclaim your sex life and enjoy the full intimacy you deserve. By getting informed and visiting your doctor, you no longer need to suffer alone and can find freedom from pelvic pain and painful intercourse for good. As Marvin Gaye once sang, “sexual healing baby, is good for me”, and who are we to argue with the words of a legend?