Dyspaurenia is the medical term for pain during intercourse, specifically with penetration. The pain can be superficial or deep and can happen just before, during or after intercourse.
If you suffer from painful intercourse you may feel confused and alone, but it is surprisingly common with a lot of women suffering in silence. Pain during intercourse can occur at different stages of life and is common in late teens/early 20's, post-natal and during or after menopause. Sometimes it presents at first attempt of penetration, but it can also occur to those who have enjoyed pain free intercourse in the past. As with any persistent pain the causes of painful intercourse can be multifactorial and may include hormonal, structural and psychological factors. Vaginismus is the term used when pelvic floor muscle spasm is contributing to the problems, this can also be associated with difficulty inserting tampons or having a smear test.
The treatment will depend on the type of pain and often involves a multidisciplinary approach with a gynaecology, physiotherapy and psychology input.
Pelvic health physiotherapy is useful to help with muscle spasm (vaginismus) which is often a component of the pain.
Pelvic health physiotherapy treatment may include:
- Relaxation techniques
- Muscle release of the pelvic floor and other muscle surrounding the pelvis (ie abdominals, gluts, groin muscle etc)
- Advice on general exercise
- Bowel and bladder function advice
- Graded exposure with the use of vaginal dilators