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by Carson-DeWitt R

(Painful Sexual Intercourse)




The cause is believed to be related to physical factors at least 75%-80% of the time.
Some pain occurs during vaginal entry but decreases over time. This is often caused by not having enough lubrication due to a lack of sexual arousal and stimulation. It can also be due to some medications. Antihistamines can cause dryness. Frequent douching can also cause problems.
Other causes in women include:
The cause of dyspareunia may also be related to psychological factors, although this is less common. Some examples include:
  • Previous sexual trauma, such as rape or abuse
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Negative attitudes toward sex
These factors may lead to a condition called vaginismus. This is painful and involuntary contractions of vaginal muscles. It is usually a response to past sexual trauma or other painful circumstances, but it can also be the result of chronic irritation from a physical cause.


The most common causes of pain in men are:
Pain occurs at the time of ejaculation.
Pain that occurs while obtaining an erection may be associated with:
  • Inflammation of the foreskin
  • Loss of elasticity of the foreskin
  • Trauma to the penis
  • Herpes or genital warts
  • Local allergies or irritations
  • Curvature of the penis caused by Peyronie's disease



RESOURCES – American Academy of Family Physicians

American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists



Sex Information and Education Council of Canada

Sexuality and U – Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada



Dambro M. Griffith's 5-Minute Clinical Consult. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2001.

Dyspareunia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated February 28, 2013. Accessed March 12, 2013.

Female sexual dysfunction. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Practice Bulletin No. 119. April 2011.

Heim LJ. Evaluation and differential diagnosis of dyspareunia. Am Fam Physician. 2001;63(8):1535-1544.

Lightner DJ. Female sexual dysfunction [review]. Mayo Clin Proc. 2002;77:698-702.

Ryan K, Kistner R. Kistner's Gynecology & Women's Health. 7th ed. St. Louis, MO: Mosby, Inc; 1999.


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