Most of the time, sex is an enjoyable, comfortable experience – until it isn’t. For about 3 out of 4 women, painful sex is a common issue. While for men, this is rare, about 1 to 5 percent of men still experience painful intercourse. When something feels like the opposite of what you believe it should, it can be extremely puzzling, and sometimes make you feel as if there’s something wrong with you.
Here are some of the common causes associated with painful sex in men and women.
Painful Sex in Men
Studies suggest painful sexual intercourse is a rare condition in men. However, the low count of cases might be related to underreporting by men due to the social stigma linked with male sexual health disorders.
1. Peyronie’s Disease
One of the most common causes of painful sex in men, with over 200,000 cases reported each year. This condition is the result of repeated penile injury, which most likely occurred during sex or any other physical activity. Peyronie’s disease causes the penis to curve or bend during an erection, making them painful, and consequently making intercourse painful and, on occasions, almost impossible.
In this case, men experience inflammation or infection of their prostate gland, which causes swelling and pain in the area behind the penis. Prostatitis causes pain or burning sensations when urinating, as well as painful ejaculation. This condition may get better on its own or might need antibiotics to heal.
Just as women do, men can also struggle with urinary tract infections. These need to be treated immediately since they can spread rather quickly and become serious. Yeast infections can often result in symptoms of itching and burning that can make intercourse painful for men.
Painful Sex in Women
For women, painful sex seems to be a more common occurrence. The reasons behind painful sex can go from a gynecologic problem to problems with sexual response, and more. It’s essential to speak with your gynecologist and be open about your struggles to assess your situation better.
4. Sexual Response Issues
On occasions, painful sex is not the response of a physiological issue. Instead, it’s more of a psychological reaction against sex. Your state of mind, relationship problems, or even your partner can contribute to make you anxious about sex and associate the experience with something negative. Medications or surgical conditions can also indirectly affect sex.
5. Vaginal Dryness
Lack of lubrication is often one of the most common causes of painful sex in women. A drop in estrogen levels can reduce the amount of moisture in the vagina, which can make sex painful at penetration. Vaginal dryness is often a symptom of menopause but can also be the result of medication side effects and birth control.
A common condition that causes involuntary muscle spams when something penetrates the vagina, for example, a tampon or a penis. For women, it can be mildly uncomfortable, or it can be excruciating. While doctors are not sure what causes vaginismus, they do link it to anxiety or fear of having sex. Some women experience vaginismus in non-sexual occasions, like when visiting their OBGYN.
For women, the list of reasons that cause painful sex extends even further, including conditions such as problems with the cervix and uterus, endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, menopause, injury to the vulva, or vulvodynia, to name a few.
A Note from GR8NESS
While painful intercourse seems to be a common issue among both men and women, it doesn’t have to stay that way. Know that there are treatment options available. If you’ve been struggling with painful sex, speak with your doctor about your symptoms and discuss potential treatment options that might help.