Painful Intercourse

Philadelphia Women's Health & Wellness -  - Gynecology

Philadelphia Women's Health & Wellness

Gynecology & Aesthetic Medicine Practice located in Philadelphia, PA

Painful intercourse has numerous possible causes, from physical problems to lack of arousal and emotional issues. It can become a chronic problem that has a significant impact on your well-being. If you're experiencing pain during sex, the team at Philadelphia Women's Health & Wellness in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, offers a range of effective solutions, no matter the cause. To schedule an evaluation, contact the office by phone or online today.

Painful Intercourse Q & A

What is painful intercourse?

Pain during sexual intercourse is something many women experience at some point. You could feel pain in your:

  • Vulva
  • Vagina
  • Cervix
  • Perineum
  • Lower back
  • Pelvic region
  • Uterus
  • Bladder

If you're experiencing painful intercourse regularly or the pain is severe, contact Philadelphia Women's Health & Wellness. They can diagnose any gynecological causes and help you with emotional and arousal problems.

What gynecological causes are there for painful intercourse?

The most common gynecological causes of painful sex are:

Vaginal dryness

During perimenopause and menopause, falling levels of the female hormone estrogen often lead to vaginal dryness or atrophy.


Vaginitis is inflammation of your vagina. It could be due to a bacterial or yeast infection that causes discharge, itching, and burning in your vagina and vulva.


Vaginismus is an involuntary contraction or tightening of the muscles around the opening of your vagina. These muscle contractions can be so strong they make penetration painful and sometimes impossible.


This is a pain problem affecting your vulva. There are various causes of vulvodynia, so treatment varies depending on the reason for your pain.

Skin disorders

Skin disorders like contact dermatitis often develop as a reaction to irritants like perfumes and other chemicals in soaps and shower gels. Your skin might be itchy, burning, and painful.

Other causes of painful intercourse include endometriosis and pelvic inflammatory disease.

Why would arousal problems cause painful intercourse?

There are numerous reasons why you might find arousal difficult. If you aren't aroused, you won't produce the natural lubrication that ensures sex is comfortable. Your vaginal muscles will also be tight, causing problems with penetration. 

Some causes of lack of arousal include:

  • Fear, guilt, or shame about sex
  • Embarrassment or awkwardness
  • Stress
  • Fatigue
  • Relationship problems
  • Medications
  • Birth control pills
  • Body image problems

Medical conditions like diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and thyroid disease can also reduce your interest in sex and cause a lack of arousal.

What treatments are there for painful intercourse?

The treatment you need for painful intercourse varies depending on the cause.

Estrogen therapy to replace lost hormones can help revitalize a dry vagina. You can take oral hormone replacement therapy or use patches, implants, or vaginal creams. You can also try using a lubricant or vaginal moisturizer.

Vaginitis is treatable with medications that kill the yeast or bacteria. It's also important to treat any underlying health conditions like diabetes and thyroid disease and look at lifestyle factors, like your diet, to promote better general health.

Emotional and relationship problems, lack of arousal, and conditions like vaginismus often require counseling or couples therapy.

Whatever the reason you're experiencing painful intercourse, Philadelphia Women's Health & Wellness can help. Call or book an appointment online today.