Dyspareunia is the medical term for painful sexual intercourse. Occasionally found in males, it is most commonly associated with females and diagnosis of the cause needs to be ascertained after consultation with a GP or, in the case of females, a gynaecologist.

Dyspareunia in men

This unusual situation is usually associated with mild inflammation or infection of the foreskin or penis . Urethral inflammation such as caused by gonorrhoea or non-specific urethritis may also be a cause.

More rarely there are congenital deformities in the opening of the urethra (hypospadias), although this does not often cause pain.

Establish a firm diagnosis by visiting a GP or specialist.

Dyspareunia in women

Pain on the initiation of sexual intercourse is usually due to inflammation of the vaginal opening or the vagina itself. Candida and other infections may be the cause, as may trauma from previous vigorous intercourse or masturbation. Self-examination may isolate redness or white, cheesy patches .

Dyspareunia associated with penetrative sex may be caused by inflammation of the cervix, uterus, Fallopian tubes and ovaries. Occasionally, inflammation in the rectum or bowel may be incorrectly interpreted as dyspareunia. Infection, endometriosis and, very rarely, tumours may be associated and correct diagnosis is essential via a GP’s or gynaecologist’s examination, or other specialist and non-invasive techniques such as ultrasound. A vaginal examination is generally recommended.

It is worth going to your doctor armed with the knowledge of when, where and how the pain is brought on. Different sexual positions may relieve or exacerbate the problem and this information is helpful in forming a diagnosis.

The vaginal muscles may spasm involuntarily, creating a condition called vaginismus which can cause discomfort and pain if penetrative intercourse is attempted.

Visit your GP, gynaecologist or specialist for an early and sound diagnosis.

Try to avoid the use of antibiotics until complementary methods have been reviewed.