What is the Dyspareunia: Causes Types and Treatment

Difficult or painful sexual intercourse can have several causes.

This condition is known as dyspareunia, which may not have an organic cause and occurs in women and men.

Let’s see…

What is it?

Dyspareunia is a sexual disorder characterized by the sensation of genital pain during intercourse. It can occur in both men and women, but it is more common among women.

Pain is usually felt during intercourse, but it can also occur before and after intercourse. Women can describe the pain as a superficial or even profound sensation, and the intensity can range from mild discomfort to sharp, throbbing pain. It is more common than you think and can reach up to 50% of sexually active women.

For the disorder to be called dyspareunia, the pain must cause distress or difficulty in sexual intercourse and is not solely due to lack of vaginal lubrication, vaginismus (involuntary contractions of the vaginal muscles), or general medical conditions or can also be caused by the action of substances or drugs. The dyspareunia often leads to rejection of the sexual act with severe consequences for the relationship concerning the commitment to the future. It reduces sexual desire to varying degrees.

What types of dyspareunia are there?

We can find the following types:


• Primary: when it happens from the first sexual intercourse or attempted sex.

• Secondary: sexual relations were expected and, from a specific time, began to cause discomfort/pain.

• Situational: dyspareunia occurs only at certain times or sporadically.

• Generalized: the woman cannot obtain any penetration unless it is accompanied by discomfort.

What causes dyspareunia?

Organic or psychological factors can cause dyspareunia. It is important to note that the disorder originates in the interaction of a set of elements instead of a single cause.

Organic factors

• Genital infections such as candidiasis (thrush), trichomoniasis, etc.

• Skin diseases that affect the genital region: folliculitis, pubic lice, psoriasis.

• Sexually transmitted diseases such as chancroid, inguinal granuloma, etc.

• Infection or irritation of the clitoris.

• Diseases that affect the year.

• Irritation or infection of the urinary tract.

• In men, we can highlight phimosis, skin diseases, genital herpes, and testicular and prostate diseases.

Psychological factors

• Difficulty in understanding and healthily accepting sexuality.

• Very rigid moral and religious beliefs.

• Repression in education.

• Irrational fears and taboos in the sexual context.

• Lack of desire to have sex with the partner.

• The fear of hurting the baby when they have sex during pregnancy.

• The lack of information.

• Childhood traumas related to sexuality.

• Feelings of guilt about sexuality.

In a sexual relationship where the woman is worried, sad, or frightened, where these reasons are caused by internal or external factors, she cannot get excited. For this to happen, it must be right, present at the time of the relationship. The emotion is that it is lubricated and also provides comfort during the act itself.

On the other hand, the wrong sexual partner is stimulated with bad feelings related to the sexual relationship and is not appropriately excited. Without emotion, there is no good lubrication; then, there comes the pain to be penetrated. This will cause the relationship to deteriorate because of the discomfort caused to the couple, so the relationship’s conflicts will worsen. The woman, afraid to feel the pain again in the relationship, will avoid the sexual encounter. And again, the competition may appear. This tends to become a vicious circle in which fear breeds tension, creating more pain.

Treatment of dyspareunia

Consultation with a doctor is essential, as it will be able to detect possible organic factors that can be treated. Different professionals can focus on psychological factors; in most of them, a sex therapist is recommended.

The treatment includes psychotherapy, whose objective is a better knowledge of himself, his illness, his body, and his way of dealing with the world. And, in general, it is very comforting for the woman. Concerning the treatment of the body, some exercises can be indicated; that can be done at home, and that sometimes is very appropriate, since some people can interrupt the follow-up.

Being a psychophysiological syndrome – a set of physical and psychological problems – It is useless to look at women as just a body or psychic beings. The two work together simultaneously. Therefore, it is the work of several professionals (gynecologists, urologists, and psychotherapists) in most cases necessary.