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Dyspareunia in Women



is pain during intercourse (sex). You may have pain before, during, or after sex. You may have pain every time you have sex, or only certain times. You may have had pain since the first time you had sex, or the pain might start suddenly. Dyspareunia may cause you to feel embarrassed or cause problems in your relationship with your partner. Many causes of dyspareunia can be treated. It is important for you to talk with your healthcare provider about your symptoms.

Common signs and symptoms:

Signs and symptoms will depend on the cause. You may have any of the following:

  • Pain anywhere from the opening of your vagina to your abdomen
  • Pain with penetration, including when you insert a sex toy
  • A feeling of pressure or burning anywhere in your vagina
  • Less interest in having sex, trouble becoming aroused, or trouble having an orgasm
  • A watery discharge from your vagina

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have new or worsening symptoms.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


depends on the cause of your symptoms. You may need any of the following:

  • Medicine may be given to treat an infection or to relieve pain. Pain medicine may be given as a pill or as a cream you can apply to your vagina.
  • Estrogen may be given as a cream, a pill, or a ring that fits in your vagina. Estrogen may help relieve your symptoms if they are caused by low estrogen levels.
  • Lubricant can help make sex more comfortable. Lubricants are available without a prescription. Talk to your healthcare provider about which kind to use if you are using condoms for birth control. Oil-based lubricants can damage condoms. Choose a silicone-based or water-based lubricant.
  • Surgery may be needed to remove a tumor or fibroid. Surgery can also be used to remove extra tissue from your vagina, or to widen your vagina. You may need surgery to fix a problem with a structure in your lower abdomen.

Manage dyspareunia:

  • A sitz bath may help reduce inflammation. To make a sitz bath, fill the bathtub with warm water until it is at about the level of your belly button. Stay in the bath for about 15 to 20 minutes. A sitz bath is also available as a small tub that will fit under your toilet seat. You will fill the tub with water as directed once it is under the toilet seat. Your healthcare provider can tell you how often to use a sitz bath.
  • Kegel exercises may be recommended to help strengthen your pelvic muscles. Pelvic muscles hold your pelvic organs, such as your bladder and uterus, in place. To do Kegel exercises, tighten your pelvic muscles slowly. It should feel like you are trying to hold back urine. Hold these muscles and count to 3. Relax, tighten them quickly, and release. Repeat the cycle 10 times.
  • A change of position can help make sex more comfortable. You might also want to try having sex at different times of the month if you have monthly periods. This will help you find a time of the month that is most comfortable for you.
  • Therapy with a mental health counselor may help you feel less anxious about sex. You can talk to a counselor by yourself or with your partner.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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