If you are experiencing pain during intercourse, odds are you are looking for some answers as to why and how this is happening to you. Intercourse pain, or dyspareunia, can occur due to a number of different origins/causes. Diagnosing the cause of pain during sex can be difficult as there are many factors to take into consideration, which is why it’s better for a professional to diagnose you as soon as possible. Hopefully, what I am about to say doesn’t come as too much of a surprise but, sex should not hurt.
What are the main causes of painful intercourse?
As I mentioned, there are several different possible factors for painful intercourse. Often, we categorize these types of pain as entry pain or deep pain.
Pain felt in the pelvic region can result from:
- Your pelvic floor muscles contracting or being too tight
- Injury to the pelvic floor, which can have many causes from vaginal childbirth to improperly fitted bicycle seats, can cause pain during sex.
- The muscles at the opening of the vagina become tightly contracted, making penetration impossible.
- Scarring from childbirth (or surgery)
- Inflammation in the pelvic floor region
- Piriformis Syndrome: Due to the piriformis muscle compressing the sciatic nerve
- Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome (CPPS): Related pain can spread to the buttocks, lower back, and thighs
- Pudendal nerve entrapment (PNE): A source of chronic pain in which the pudendal nerve is entrapped or compressed
- Vulvodynia: Chronic pain at the opening of the vagina. Symptoms include burning, soreness, itching, rawness, and pain during sex.
How do you treat painful intercourse?
There are plenty of ways to get treatment for the symptoms I have mentioned in this post. All too often, we see people who neglect to address these symptoms. Commonly, this neglect is due to the fact that most find it difficult to talk to their healthcare professional about these symptoms.
It all begins with getting the conversation started with a healthcare professional. When we begin to address pain during intercourse, we focus on strengthening or relaxing your pelvic floor muscles in order to create relief from the pain or tightness that you may be feeling. Here at PhysioFit PT, we see patients vocalizing symptoms related to this topic every day. Our treatment protocols aim to bring relief to the contracted muscles or tightness in your pelvic floor; which can also help improve other areas of the body.
Imagine being able to return to all the things you love pain-free, and not just the intimate parts of life! All of life should be enjoyable and if you are experiencing any of the symptoms in this post, I am willing to bet that life could be more enjoyable for you. Don’t keep pushing these symptoms off, seek medical advice ASAP!
Can physical therapy help you?
A physical therapist is one of many healthcare providers involved in the assessment, treatment, and management of pelvic floor dysfunction. In addition to referring you out to other specialists who may need to be involved in your care; PTs trained in pelvic floor examination can:
- Provide manual techniques that help improve posture, reduce any underlying scar tissue or mobility restrictions, and alleviate tension on the pelvic floor.
- Teach therapeutic exercises that can not only alleviate your symptoms; but also help restore the strength, endurance, motor control, and alignment of the pelvic floor muscles.
If you’re concerned about pelvic floor health, don’t let any frustration or embarrassment prevent you from seeking the care you deserve. You don’t have to suffer in silence, we will get you back to enjoying life in no time!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kim Gladfelter, MPT, OCS, FAAOMPT
Women's Health Physical Therapy Specialist at PhysioFit Physical Therapy & Wellness
Kim Gladfelter is a physical therapist, Pilates instructor, educator, author, and co-founder of PhysioFit Physical Therapy & Wellness. She is known as a keen, well-rounded expert of healing through movement and women’s health specialist in the Silicon Valley area.
Kim has helped men and women of all ages to stay active and feel their best. She also writes about managing pain in her health columns, blogs and the local Los Altos Town Crier newspaper as well as reaches out to the local community, support groups, schools, libraries, and sports centers to advise and educate on body awareness and therapeutic exercise.