Dyspareunia causes pain during sex. This pathology can respond to a physical imbalance, but it is also associated with psychological processes.
Dyspareunia or coitalgia is a pathology that encompasses various annoying symptoms as far as the sexual act is concerned, both in men and women. This disorder manifests itself from mild genital irritation to deep pain before, during or after intercourse.
Various medical studies indicate that this clinical picture is much more common in females, but it can also occur in males, generally due to urethral infections or phimosis. If you want to know more about the possible treatments and causes of dyspareunia or coitalgia, read on.
About its global distribution
The sexual act is a taboo in many social strata and cultures. Therefore, it will be surprising to learn that coitalgia is much more common than you might initially think. The World Health Organization (WHO) and various epidemiological studies provide the following data regarding painful intercourse:
- In women of reproductive age, dyspareunia has a prevalence of between 10 and 15%.
- In the premenopausal stage, this clinical picture becomes more common, affecting up to 30% of women.
- The average age of people who suffer from this pathology is 36.5 years.
- In men, the condition is much less studied, but the prevalence fluctuates between 0.1 and 5%.
As we can see, painful intercourse is common in the general population, especially in women. Not feeling pleasure during sex is not the norm, and therefore, putting yourself in the hands of doctors and professionals in the face of a lack of enjoyment is completely legitimate and necessary.
As we have already said, dyspareunia or coitalgia is the pain that is experienced in the genitals or the pelvic structure, associated with sexual practices, up to 24 hours after the act. Some of the most common symptoms, collected by medical organizations, are the following:
- Pain during initial penetration.
- Pain in each of the penetration movements or after the entry of an external element into the vagina, such as a tampon.
- Burning and discomfort during sexual intercourse.
- Sharp throbbing discomfort that may remain for several hours after intercourse.
- Most of the symptoms are in relation with the woman’s experience. In men, as we have already said, it is much less common. Even so, when it occurs, it is usually in isolation at the time of ejaculation.
To address the causes of pathology it is necessary that we divide them into two categories: physical and psychological. We explain them below.
The physical causes of dyspareunia are multiple and varied. For example, clinical studies explore that this pathology after childbirth is very common, since the tear of the pelvic muscles and the multiple forces to which the vagina has been exposed, promote its sensitivity.
Although it may seem surprising, in breastfeeding mothers it has also been observed that coitalgia is correlated with the decrease in the levels of estrogen in the blood. This happens because hormonal imbalances lead to dryness in the vagina. Other physical causes of dyspareunia in women include the following:
- Infectious vaginitis: the most common is the infection caused by the fungus Candida albicans. This causes irritation and inflammation in the vaginal walls, which can make sex difficult.
- Insufficient lubrication: lack of vaginal discharge due to hormonal changes, lack of desire or excitement and other associated pathologies.
- Congenital anomalies: a vagina with a non-correct form or an imperforate hymen can be factors that make intercourse difficult.
- Again, we corroborate that most of the causes have been studied in women. Other research affirms that male dyspareunia or coitalgia is usually associated with an obstruction of the ejaculatory duct. Pathologies such as chronic prostatitis can cause pelvic discomfort in men.
It’s not all about the body. Studies already cited previously estimate that more than 70% of dyspareunia cases do not show any type of physical pathology.
This highlights the great psychosexual component of the disorder. Some of the psychological parameters that can play an essential role are the following:
- Anxiety and depression problems: issues of self-esteem or lack of trust with the partner can promote the appearance of coitalgia.
- Stress: continuous stress causes tension in the pelvic muscles.
- Sexual abuse: medical reviews highlight that, on some occasions, dyspareunia is correlated with a history of violence and sexual abuse in the patient.
What are the treatments?
There are medical treatments for dyspareunia or coitalgia. For example, if the pain comes from a fungal or bacterial infection, the application of antifungals or antibiotics is essential. In postmenopausal or lactating women, they may also get a prescription of topical estrogen to promote vaginal lubrication.
The causes are so varied that treatment must be tailored to each patient. What is usually common to all who suffer from it is the need for couples therapy and sex education.
As you can see, dyspareunia is due to the psychological component of the patient, and therefore, comfort, security and prior arousal are essential to avoid pain during sexual activity.
Wanting to feel pleasure is not a reason for shame or vulnerability. Therefore, talking with your partner is always the first step towards improvement.
Sexual pain: what to remember?
Sexual pain is very common, especially in women, where it can occur in 30% of the population at certain ages. Therefore, communication with the partner is vital: changing positions, using lubricants and avoiding stress are always good options to avoid dyspareunia.
Still, not all cases correspond to the same problems. A coitalgia can be a sign of an obstruction of the ejaculatory canal in men or fungal infections in women. Therefore, this pathology requires both a medical and a psychological approach.
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