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Painful Penetration: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

Painful Penetration

Some women experience painful penetration. As a result, they may be unable to wear tampons or enjoy sexual relationships. Several interconnecting factors involving muscles, tissues, joints, bones, nerves and skin may be involved. If you are experiencing pelvic pain, pay attention to what your body tells you and seek help.

Is it normal for sexual penetration to be painful?

Although it is unfortunately common for women to report that intercourse is painful, it is NOT “normal” and it is something for which there are treatment options. Sexual intercourse should not be painful. It is important to communicate with your partner—talk about what hurts and what feels right. Enjoy plenty of foreplay before attempting penetration. Some women find home remedies such as water-soluble lubricants, ice packs, or warm baths can reduce symptoms. For ongoing pain, seek help from a medical professional. Pelvic floor physical therapy has helped many women.

Painful Penetration During Intercourse

The medical term for pelvic pain associated with sexual intercourse is “dyspareunia.” There are many different physical and emotional factors at play here. For some, dyspareunia comes from hormonal changes and vagina dryness from menopause, breastfeeding, or medications. For others, the pain stems from infections, illnesses, or inflammation. Women can also experience dyspareunia due to emotional factors. In these cases, effective treatment includes cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) along with pelvic floor physical therapy.

Vaginal Muscle Spasms 

Vaginismus is when the muscles of the vagina tense up at attempted penetration. Experts aren’t exactly sure what causes it.

Symptoms of vaginismus include:

  • Discomfort or pain during vaginal penetration.
  • Inability to use tampons or tolerate pelvic exams.
  • Painful intercourse.

Treatment focuses on teaching the muscles to relax. Treatment may include vaginal dilator therapy, which uses rounded, silicone inserts to stretch the vaginal tissue progressively. Many women find relief through pelvic floor physical therapy.

Getting Help for Painful Penetration 

Many women feel uncomfortable talking about pelvic floor pain, and embarrassment prevents them from seeking help. But, you are not alone, and treatment is available. The most important thing you can do right now is talking to a medical professional. You don’t have to live with painful penetration—our women’s health expert can help. Schedule a consultation today.

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