Painful sex, also referred to as dyspareunia, is most often reported by females, although it occurs in males as well. Like other sexual problems, painful sex can place undue stress on a person or relationship. You should talk to a doctor to see what treatments are available. Pain during sex can be caused by psychological factors, physical problems, or a combination of both.
Painful sex in females can be caused by:
- Painful scars in the vaginal entrance, possibly from episiotomy or sexual assault;
- A functional disorder called vaginismus in which the vaginal muscles involuntarily contract due to the subconscious memory of a past episode of painful intercourse;
- Allergic reactions to spermicides or latex in condoms or diaphragms;
- Pelvic problems or disorders, including pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), endometriosis, tumours or cysts;
- Skin conditions or infections and irritants;
- Inadequate lubrication resulting from being insufficiently aroused or from hormonal changes during menopause or pregnancy;
- Thinning of the vaginal wall that occurs with age, or a scarring of the vaginal roof which occasionally occurs after hysterectomy.
Painful sex in males can be caused by:
- Adhesions under the foreskin of those who are uncircumcised;
- An allergic reaction to latex condoms or spermicides;
- Prostate problems that cause pain on ejaculation;
- Peyronie’s disease, or other inflammations or scarring of the penis or internal male reproductive organs.
If you are a female having sex for the first time, it is normal to experience some pain. The female body has a hymen, a membrane that covers the vagina. If the hymen has not already been broken, it will break when a penis or sex toy is inserted, causing some temporary, but tolerable, pain.
Be sure to tell your partner if it hurts and only do what feels right to you. Any pain felt the first few times will eventually go away. If pain persists and inhibits your ability to enjoy sex, it’s best to see your doctor.