Dyspareunia is a term used to describe any type of pain with sexual intercourse, affecting individuals of all ages and genders. It is usually a symptom of an underlying condition, and its diagnosis involves identifying the cause based on the location and timing of the pain. Discussing sexual health with a healthcare provider is important for overall wellbeing, as they can tailor a diagnostic workup, which may include a pelvic exam or other tests, to identify the underlying cause. It’s crucial to speak up about symptoms of sexual pain to receive proper evaluation and support, as you are not alone in experiencing this issue.

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If you have ever experienced pain or discomfort with sex, it may have been distressing for you. Sexual pain can have a significant impact on a person’s health, confidence, relationships, work, and quality of life. We hope we hope the information in this blog post provides you with some insights into dyspareunia and helps you have the confidence to take control of your sexual health in order to live your healthiest, happiest life.

Dyspareunia Pronunciation

We know medical terminology can be intimidating, but it’s important to become familiar with the words a clinician may use to describe your symptoms. Dyspareunia (pronounced dis-puh-roon-ia) is the technical term for any type of pain with sexual intercourse. The word comes from the Greek prefix dys-, which means difficult or bad, and pareunia is a medical term for sexual intercourse.

Usually, dyspareunia is a symptom of an underlying condition; however, in some cases, there may not be a cause identified. Dyspareunia and Female Sexual Pain (FSP) are often used interchangeably, but dyspareunia is a broader term that includes conditions affecting all genders, not just women. While this article will only focus on dyspareunia in the context of individuals with vaginas, it is important to note that sexual pain can affect all individuals, regardless oof gender or anatomy.


Causes of Dyspareunia

As mentioned, dyspareunia itself is a broad term. Therefore, it’s safe to say if you are experiencing pain or discomfort with intercourse, you have a form of dyspareunia.

Dyspareunia can occur before, during, or after intercourse. It affects individuals of all ages and all backgrounds. In women, this pain can occur in the area around the opening of the vagina, referred to as the vulva, or the pain can occur inside the vagina or in the lower belly. The exact location and timing of your pain are helpful diagnostic clues for your clinical provider, so it may be helpful to write down details of each pain episode and share them at your doctor’s appointment.

We know that it can be uncomfortable to discuss your sexual history with a clinician, but sexual health is an integral component of your overall health and wellbeing. Moreover, we believe all women deserve to experience pleasurable sex. We are here to help you take the steps to heal your body and transform the way you feel.


Diagnosis of Dyspareunia

This part can be a little confusing for patients. From a doctor’s perspective, dyspareunia is a symptom not a diagnosis. You might be saying: “Well, I was told I have dyspareunia, isn’t that a diagnosis?” Yes and no. When a doctor says “diagnosis,” they really mean the underlying condition causing your symptoms — in this case, that would be what is causing you to feel pain with sex. So yes, you can have dyspareunia, but the actual diagnosis, whether it be an infection, injury to your reproductive tract, or otherwise, could be something else entirely.

The diagnostic workup for dyspareunia is tailored specifically to your symptoms. There are many underlying conditions that can cause dyspareunia, so your provider will likely begin by asking you to describe your symptoms before performing a physical exam.

The more you share with your provider, the easier it will be for them to evaluate and treat your pain. Try to imagine what you would tell your doctor if you were experiencing back or knee pain. Where exactly do you feel the pain? What does it feel like? Does the pain move? When does it happen? When did you start feeling this way? Have you tried any remedies at home?

It can be easy to for you to consider your sexual pain differently than other types of pain because it feels so intimate or even unscientific. Patients often shy away from discussing sexual problems with their provider because of fear of judgement. This is common, along with feelings of shame or embarrassment. From your doctor’s perspective, however, symptoms are symptoms! Speaking up about your sexual health can be an empowering first step on your path to whole body wellness. You deserve a life without sexual pain.

After your provider takes your history, they may perform a pelvic exam in order to evaluate your reproductive organs. Many women have anxiety around pelvic exams, which is completely normal. It is helpful to vocalize these concerns with your provider so they can approach your exam with extra care. Women often believe a pelvic exam has to be uncomfortable, but there are many tactics and approaches providers can utilize to minimize stress and discomfort.

Some other common tests your provider may perform to identify a cause of dyspareunia

  • Urine tests — these look for bladder infections
  • Tests on a sample of fluid from the vagina — these can look for infections in the vagina or cervix

Just remember: you are not broken, and you are not alone. Many other women are struggling with painful sex and scared to speak up. You are worthy of pleasurable, pain-free sex, and we are here to help you get there.

Sex doesn’t have to hurt. Milli can help.

Milli is the first and only all-in-one vaginal dilator that gradually expands the vagina at a pace you control – helping relieve the symptoms of vaginismus and related painful sex.

MKT3215 Rev A

Sex doesn’t have to hurt. Milli can help.

Milli is the first and only all-in-one vaginal dilator that gradually expands the vagina at a pace you control – helping relieve the symptoms of vaginismus and related painful sex.

MKT3215 Rev A