Take the Next Step

Contact us to schedule an appointment, call (800) 436-7936.

Painful Sex in Women

Pain during intercourse affects many women at various times in their lives. Painful sex can cause negative emotional effects for either partner and often leads to problems in a couple’s sexual relationship; therefore, it should be addressed as soon as it’s experienced.

The medical term for painful sex is dyspareunia and is characterized as recurrent or persistent genital pain that happens just before, during the course of or following the act of intercourse.

What Causes Painful Sex in Women?

Many times, painful sex is caused by insufficient vaginal lubrication. Common causes of vaginal dryness include medications (typically those that hinder sexual arousal including antidepressants, sedatives, certain birth control pills, antihistamines and blood pressure medications) and low estrogen levels related to menopause (natural, surgical or induced), childbirth and breastfeeding.

There are many other possible causes of painful sex including:

  • Vaginal infections are common, especially yeast infections
  • Endometriosis, caused when the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus, attaching to and irritating organs in the abdomen
  • Scar tissue, or adhesions, from previous surgeries or infections
  • Problems with the cervix, including infections
  • Problems with the uterus, such as fibroids (benign growths in the wall of the uterus)
  • Problems with the ovaries, such as cysts (fluid-filled sacs)
  • Adenomyosis caused when endometrial tissue grows into the walls of the uterus
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
  • Irritation, trauma or surgery, including an episiotomy or tear during childbirth
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Intercourse too soon following childbirth or surgery
  • Vaginismus (painful vaginal muscle spasms)
  • Infections, inflammation or skin disorders of the pelvis, vagina or vulva
  • Stress, causing a tightening of pelvic floor muscles which can lead to pain
  • Psychological issues, such as anxiety, depression or fear of intimacy
  • Congenital abnormality
  • Medical treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation
  • History of sexual abuse

Schedule Appointment Online

Please call 911 if you have an emergency or urgent medical question.

Already a Henry Ford patient?
For the best experience, existing Henry Ford patients can request and self-schedule appointments through Henry Ford MyChart.

Henry Ford Health is committed to ensuring our Deaf or hard-of-hearing patients and visitors have equal access to all services. We provide the appropriate auxiliary aids and services, including qualified sign language interpreters, TTYs and other assistive listening devices, at no cost. To request assistance, call 313-916-1896 or email [email protected].

Schedule Appointment for