It hurts when I have intercourse. What can I do?

It hurts when I have intercourse. What can I do?

Diane Robinson is a gynecologist with Mercy Women's Health Care at Nazareth Hospital, Northeast Philadelphia.

A: Pain during intercourse is very common. For some women, the pain is only temporary. In many cases, a woman can experience painful sex if there is not sufficient vaginal lubrication.

For others, pain during sex may be a sign of a gynecologic problem, such as ovarian cysts or endometriosis.

Other conditions that can cause pain during intercourse include:

  • Vaginismus. This is a common condition in which there is a spasm in the vaginal muscles, mainly caused by the fear of being hurt.
  • Vaginal infections.
  • Problems with the cervix or uterus.
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease.
  • Ectopic pregnancy.
  • Menopause.
  • Intercourse too soon after surgery or childbirth.
  • Sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Injury to the vulva or vagina.

Painful intercourse can be a distressing experience for a woman and her partner.

Before menopause, some of the more common causes of pain during intercourse may be a vaginal infection, pelvic mass, or endometriosis.

After menopause, the walls of the vagina start to thin and do not lubricate as well during intercourse, causing more friction and pain.

In most instances, personal lubricants can help.

Some women may also benefit from low-dose estrogen creams in the vagina. Meet with your doctor to discuss your symptoms.