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Painful Sex (Dyspareunia)

Sex should be an enjoyable experience but for some women if can be a real pain. Dyspareunia (painful sex) may include catching, knife-like or burning pain at the entrance or deep inside the vagina. Other terms which may also be used are vaginismus, vulvodynia and genito-pelvic pain penetration disorder.

One of the primary causes of painful sex is a tense, or non-relaxing, pelvic floor. Approximately 15% of women experience painful sex, however this number rises to 68% in women during their first year postpartum.

There can be a number of contributing factors to dyspareunia. These may include:

  • Stress or anxiety
  • Bladder pain / UTI
  • Doing too many pelvic floor exercises
  • Post-partum / difficult childbirth / scar pain post episiotomy
  • Clenching your pelvic floor all the time
  • Chronic constipation
  • Trauma or abuse
  • Hormonal issues – for example low estrogen
  • Pelvic conditions such as pelvic organ prolapse or endometriosis
  • For optimal results women with dyspareunia must see a Women’s Health Physiotherapist. While sex therapy and psychology has its place for managing the emotional issues associated with painful sex, pelvic physiotherapy is essential for treating the physical issues. A Women’s Health Physiotherapist will help you identify the cause of your symptoms and come up with a plan on how to address the pain. This may include pelvic floor release and teaching you how to relax your pelvic floor muscles.

    You do not have to put up with painful sex. It may be common but it’s not normal. If you are concerned about painful intercourse, call the clinic on 4861 1223 or book online with our Women’s Health Physiotherapist Sophie today.


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