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When Pain Ruins a Good Time

Dyspareunia, painful sexual intercourse, is a symptom that people can be reluctant to speak with their health care team about.  It is a difficult to bring up at an appointment, but it can negatively impact quality of life.  Both men and women experience painful sex.   Although men can experience this symptom it is almost exclusively reported by women.  Up to 22% of women will experience it at some point in their life.  Dyspareunia can be associated with vulvar, perineal, or vaginal trauma and repair, but these are not the main contributors.   Postpartum dyspareunia can also occur in women who give birth by cesarean section.   According to the Mayo Clinic up to one in five women experience this symptom before, during or after sexual intercourse.  Half of women resuming sexual activity around the average 6 weeks postpartum point will experience dyspareunia.  Dyspareunia affects persons from all demographics, life stages and gender.  Although in most cases the underlying cause can be treated and this symptom eliminated, it is underreported to care givers.

Pain during sex is common, especially in postpartum women.  Are we talking with mothers and fathers about what it is, why it happens and what to do about it?  Postpartum advice about resuming sexual activity usually consists of wait six weeks and use water based lubrication if you experience dryness.  That doesn’t nearly cover the topic.  The table below is a quick break down of this condition.


* Watch the YouTube Video coming out this week for an in depth look into this important topic.



Risk Factors/ Health Status Disease Injury
Insufficient lubricationSurgeries or medical treatments.Scarring from pelvic surgeries i.e. hysterectomy, episiotomy


Psychological problems: Anxiety, Depression, Self image, Fear of intimacy, Relationship problems, Stress


Reactions to birth control products: creams, foams, jellies, diaphragm, latex

Inflammation, infection or skin disorderUrinary tract infectionEczema


Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

Uterine Prolapse,

Retroverted Uterus,

Uterine Fibroids Cystitis

Irritable Bowel Syndrome


Ovarian Cysts

Sexually Transmitted Infections:

Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Herpes

Vaginusmus, Vestibulitis

Injury, traumaAccidentpelvic surgery

female circumcision


congenital abnormality


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