Almost one in every three women face painful intercourse, says Dr Anagha Karkhanis.
Sex is a powerful emotional experience and an extremely important tool for your mental and physical health.
Sex helps to burn those extra calories, releases endorphins in the brain and reduces anxiety and stress to a great extent.
Good sex life increases one’s lifespan, improves your immune system and also strengthens your relationship with your partner.
Although, it is all about pleasing and pleasure, for a few it is accompanied by pain.
Painful intercourse or 'Dyspareunia' as it is commonly known, not only leads to discomfort and affects a couple’s physical relationship but in the long term can also cause intimacy issues and threaten the relationship itself.
While this condition is rare in men, it’s more prevalent in women.
In women, dysparunia may be superficial i.e. at the entry or deep within the pelvis. Reports suggest that almost one in every three women face painful intercourse.
So, what causes this? Listed below are some common causes --
1. Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
A Urinary Tract Infection inflames the urinary tract. Inflammation is always associated with discomfort and pain.
Infection also increases bladder muscle contractions and urethral irritation.
In such a situation the friction of intercourse further irritates the tissues making sex very painful.
2. Inflamed fallopian tubes/ Hydrosalpinx
Fallopian tubes are vital reproductive organs that connect the uterus and ovaries.
Infection of the fallopian is painful as with any organ, also, can cause fluid to collect in the fallopian tubes and also can block them.
These tubes might give rise to the pain around the time of intercourse. Thus, the damaged tubes will surely cause pain especially deep in the pelvis during intercourse.
3. Uterine fibroids
These are benign smooth muscle growths that are seen in the uterus and don’t always exhibit symptoms.
When fibroids are large, they will exert pressure on the bladder and bowel making these irritable, also depending on where in the uterus they are and their size they can also make the uterine muscle to contract more and just be generally uncomfortable.
In this situation, the added friction of the intercourse ends up being painful.
4. Ovarian cysts
Presence of ovarian cyst/s can also cause deep dyspareunia.
They are fluid-filled sacks that develop in the ovary.
They could either be an unruptured follicle or even be the chocolate cysts of endometriosis.
Presence of ovarian cysts make the ovary bulky and during intercourse, the ovarian pain is experienced in the deep pelvis.
You have to necessarily consult a doctor who will verify the presence of cysts by doing an ultrasound.
Cysts can be dealt with surgically or with medication.
The presence of the tissue that normally lines the cavity of the womb outside the womb is referred to endometriosis.
Every time a woman has a period and the lining of the womb is shed; this ectopic tissue also bleeds.
This causes inflammation in the pelvic region which gives rise to dyspareunia and leads to extreme soreness.
6. Pelvic inflammatory disease
These infections affect the reproductive tract. Constant pelvic pain may be a presenting feature in PID.
During intercourse, one may feel unbearable pain in the pelvic area.
If the symptoms match to that of a PID, you should immediately get yourself examined by a doctor who will suggest medications for the same as if left untreated it can cause infertility.
7. Size matters
The discrepancy in the size of the penis and the vagina may at times lead to the discomfort and pain during intercourse.
When there is a disproportion in sizes the stretch in the vagina and the frictional effect is more that can lead to soreness for both the man and the lady.
To reduce soreness, one can try alternative positions during sex and use water-based lubricant jelly.
In rare cases, a woman might have to go through a surgery called the Fenton’s procedure to enlarge the vagina.
Allergies to the material of the condom are known, more so for latex condoms.
Newer silicon condoms are less allergic. Allergies cause local inflammation and pain occurs.
Itching and swelling will also be seen in this case.
If dysparunia occurs only after condom use and not when the barrier method is avoided, then the cause is almost certainly allergic.
Whatever the cause painful sex can throw a damper on your relationship.
It's best to consult a doctor sooner rather than later if you suffer dysparunia. Enjoy those blissful moments. Say No to pain.
Dr Anagha Karkhanis is senior gynaecologist, infertility specialist and director of Cocoon Fertility.