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Woman's sexual health: What is dyspareunia?

Many women all around the world find sexual intercourse painful and since the problem may reoccur they eventually stop having sex. However, most causes of painful sexual intercourse can be identified and are, fortunately, treatable so the problem can be eventually brought under control. This way women who used to be frightened of having intercourse may rest assured that not only will the very act be painless, but they are actually going to enjoy it.

Dyspareunia Definition and Causes

Dyspareunia is the term doctors and other medical professionals use for painful intercourse. Even though dyspareunia is mostly connected with female gender, there are cases when men may experience pain during intercourse. Still, the condition is not so frequently reported among men. Dyspareunia is a reason of repeated complaints of recurrent or persistent genital pain before, during and after sexual intercourse.

As far as causes of dyspareunia are concerned, they are easily classified into physical and psychological.

There is a variety of underlying conditions affecting female reproductive organs which may, at some point, initiate dyspareunia. For instance, this problem is reported in women suffering from infections such as candidiasis, chlamydia, trichomoniasis etc. Even urinary tract infections may be a reason behind dyspareunia. Furthermore, conditions like endometriosis, tumors of female reproductive organs and vaginal xerosis (associated with menopause) are several more causes why a woman may experience painful sexual intercourse. Finally, reactions to birth control products, ill-fitting diaphragm and cervical cap as well as vaginismus (involuntary spasm of the muscles of the vagina) are all to blame for dyspareunia.

Emotional segment of each and every person's life is always intertwined with sexual intercourse and plays significant role in sex. Some women may have painful intercourse due to psychological problems like anxiety, depression or even fear of intimacy and relationships. Stress is another potential culprit of painful intercourse. Not to mention women with a history of sexual abuse who may have huge problem regarding the issue.

Dyspareunia and Its Characteristics

Even though a woman may be aroused and feel excited about having sex, this excitement may soon subside or completely vanish once the pain occurs. In such women it is reported that both vaginal lubrication and vaginal dilation are significantly low and under expected level. Inadequately lubricated vagina is prone to friction and insufficient dilation is another explanation why the penis may not enter completely, or its penetration leads to painful sensations.

The very location of pain as well as its intensity vary among women and are not unique. For instance, a woman may experience pain with every penetration. Such pain is also reported to occur while inserting a tampon (a reason why these women avoid using tampons). Furthermore, a woman may experience pain only with certain partners or under certain circumstances and occasions. Most of them have never had painful intercourse before. It is also possible to experience pain at the very beginning of the intercourse, while the penis has not entered the vagina, or the pain occurs during deep penetration and starts to occur during the act. Finally, the pain is differently described as burning, aching or throbbing, which basically depends on the source of its origins i.e. the affected tissues or organs.

Finally, in women in whom dyspareunia occurs due to psychological issues, the pain may occur even before sexual intercourse, just with the though that the process is going to take place.

Dyspareunia - The Occurrence

Dyspareunia is relatively common condition affecting 1 out of 5 women during their life. Such pain in the genital area occurs immediately before or during intercourse although it may start after the very sexual act.

Dyspareunia Treatment Options

Treatment for dyspareunia is not unique and basically depends on the underlying cause. It is essential to identify the site of source of pelvic pain and calm down patient explaining that with suitable treatment the pain will subside and eventually be completely eliminated. Physical causes are treated specifically, either by medications or surgically.

Additionally, patients and their partners are encouraged to explore and engage in sexually exciting experiences and, if necessary, are recommended to increase amounts on water soluble or surgical lubricants during intercourse.

Women in whom pelvic disease and injuries have led to problems and pain during intercourse, a change in coital position may help a lot. Finally, psychological issues are dealt with in cooperation with suitable professionals (psychotherapists or psychiatrists).

Dyspareunia Summary

As far as women are concerned dyspareunia is relatively frequently reported because sex is not for all women pleasurable and pain-free experience. There are different reasons why such pain occurs. All women can be affected at any part of their lives. The bottom line is that the problem is solvable but one needs to consult a heath care provider and not to neglect the issue.

What to Expect?

In spite of its complexity, dyspareunia can be brought under control with different treatment approaches. It is crucial to identify the underlying cause and treat it adequately. Medications, surgery, changes in sexual behavior and the very intercourse as well as consultations with medical professionals are all incorporated in treatment and are of major help when it comes to this medical issue.

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