Dyspareunia: About Painful Sex

By Rachel Snell, CNP

Painful sex (dyspareunia) affects approximately 1 in 5  women in the US and can include recurrent or persistent pain during foreplay, intercourse or after sex. For some women, this pain can last for hours to days after being sexually active. If you experience this and want solutions, read on.

painful-sex.jpgWhat is Dyspareunia?

Some women describe dyspareunia pain as burning, sharp, shooting, aching, cramping or dull. For some women, light touch can trigger pain. This can occur at any time during a woman's lifetime and if left untreated can worsen over time. Painful sex can often affect a woman both physically and emotionally, including relationships with intimate partners and at times, efforts to conceive. 

Causes of Painful Sex

There are many causes of painful sex and can include:

  • Infection
  • Tissue conditions such as vaginal atrophy lichen sclerosis
  • Hormonal influences to lubrication and tissue
  • Muscular causes arising in the pelvic floor (pelvic floor dysfunction)
  • Vaginismus (involuntary contraction of pelvic floor muscles)
  • Endometriosis
  • Painful bladder conditions
  • A history of sexual abuse and trauma
  • Female circumcision
  • Pelvic surgery and trauma to the pelvis

Underlying Conditions

Women that experience pain with intercourse also may experience other symptoms associated with other underlying conditions. This can include:

  • Constipation
  • Vaginal or pelvic pressure
  • Pain or difficulty passing stool
  • Urinary urgency or frequency
  • Pain with a full bladder (or with urination)
  • Leaking of urine
  • Pain with exercise
  • Painful periods 

Great News! We Have LOTS of Solutions for Painful Sex!

The great news is that we have treatment that can help! After a thorough evaluation of the underlying factors, the providers at Minnesota Women’s Care will tailor a plan to help get you the relief that you need. 

There are many treatment options and can include:

  • Treatment of current infections
  • Treatment of musculoskeletal factors with chiropractic, physical therapy and urostym therapy
  • Hormonal replacement therapy
  • Surgical treatments
  • An array of therapies aimed at restoring tissue integrity of the clitoris, labia and vagina

sola-hero-3.jpgImproving tissue integrity and musculoskeletal structures can also include:

  • Sola therapy (infrared therapy)
  • CO2 laser
  • PRP (Platelet-rich plasma) injections and/or
  • Thermiva (radiofrequency energy)

Our approach to managing your pain will also include treatment of any underlying bladder conditions.  

Take the First Step

The first step is talking to us about it! We feel very comfortable talking about painful sex (or any pain for that matter) and helping find the answers to get you relief and back to enjoying intimacy with your partner. 


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About Rachel Snell, CNP

Rachel's entire nursing career has focused on women's health issues. Prior to earning her Women's Health Practitioner (WHNP) degree at Loyola University, she worked in a hospital setting with post-surgical gynecology patients. Rachel always gets rave reviews from her patients. We see comments like this: "Very knowledgeable, kind, and informative." She's really easy to talk to. If you've been uncomfortable talking to a medical provider about painful sex or another sensitive topic, Rachel may be the perfect provider for you to see.     

If you are interested in booking an appointment with Rachel, call Minnesota Women's Care at 651-600-3035 or click Book Now.