Similarly, I was tongue-tied the first time I saw this word. Before we get into the article, let’s ensure we are on the same page with the pronunciation:
Dis-pa-ruu-nia. (Pain with Sex)
Now, let’s paint three scenarios to define dyspareunia:
Scenario 1: You have barely started getting into the ‘groove,’ and there is a throbbing pain in your genital area. You wonder, what could be the cause of this?
Scenario 2: You’re along for the ‘ride,’ but with every thrust, your partner seems to feel pleasure, while you feel pain. Is this how it should be?
Scenario 3: The ride was good, and now, in the aftermath, a deep-seated aching pain invades your pelvic region and seems to be quickly erasing the joys that were just experienced. Is this normal?
To answer all questions, these are presentations of dyspareunia, which may be defined as pain in the genital region just before, during, or after sexual intercourse. Typically, dyspareunia can affect both genders; however, the prevalence is extremely higher in females.
Ladies, pain with sex is NOT NORMAL.
An article published on the National Center for Biotechnology Information’s website, written by Tayyeb M, Gupta V. in 2022, stated that 3-18% of women are affected by dyspareunia at one time or another during their lifetime. One could argue that the percentage is insignificant at first glance, but surely not when placed into context. Jamaica has approximately 1.5 million females; according to those statistics, this would mean that anywhere from 45,000-270,000 females living in Jamaica may, at some point or another, experience dyspareunia.
Sounds more concerning now? Unfortunately, this is an often-overlooked medical issue. Females are often socialized to believe the female body was meant to bear pain so they should just “learn to live with” any pain related to the gynecological aspect of their bodies.
That’s a prime example of traditional rubbish. It is this misinformation among females that often leads to silent suffering, but the bright side is, as knowledge becomes more available, the circumstances should change.
Symptoms of dyspareunia may include:
Pain upon entry
Pain with penetration
Throbbing/aching after sexual intercourse
A deep burning pain
Muscle spasms or tightness
Dyspareunia may be caused by the following:
• Vaginal atrophy
• Vaginal infections
• Problems with the cervix
• Ovarian cysts, Fibroids, Endometriosis
• Pelvic inflammatory disease
• Ectopic pregnancy
• Intercourse too soon after surgery or childbirth.
• Sexually Transmitted Diseases
• Injury to the vulva (visible outside section of the female genitalia) or vagina (inside part of the female genitalia)
• Psychological issues
If by unfortunate fate, you, your patient, or even a friend find herself in that 3-18%, there are ways to help and even eliminate the problem. If you are experiencing dyspareunia symptoms, the first step is to visit a gynecologist. There, you will be examined, the correct cause will be identified, and medical management would commence.
The next crucial step is to see a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist to have the issue addressed. Physiotherapists specializing in Pelvic Floor Therapy are able to assess and treat you based on your symptoms. The main goal will be to relax the pelvic floor muscles, retrain proper pelvic engagement, and re-instruct pain receptors in the genital region.
This will be done by using manual therapy, electrotherapy, massage, relaxation techniques, and exercises specific to pelvic floor muscles.
The occurrence of pain with sex in women is grossly underestimated because most cases are never reported. Pain from sexual activity is a problem, but it can be fixed, so ladies do not suffer in silence. Click HERE to speak to a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist today.
Get the help you need and then get back to pain-free adult enjoyment!
Writer: Asha-Gay Blake-Scarlett, B.Sc PT