Dyspareunia is a generalized medical term describing recurrent or persistent pain with sexual intercourse due to medical or psychological causes. It describes all types of sexual pain, and can affect both males and females. It is significantly more common in females, affecting up to one-fifth of women at some point in their lives.
In males, anatomical deformities of the penis can cause dyspareunia. In females, dyspareunia can typically be classified into one of three categories: vulvar pain, vaginal pain, or deep pain. You may suffer from a combination of these.
There are many different causes of this condition, which can differ between males and females. Female causes can range from infections (urinary tract infections, pelvic inflammatory disease, and other infections of the vagina), hormonal changes, sexually transmitted diseases, ovarian cysts or tumors, women who undergo radiation therapy, and numerous other reasons. The causes for males can also range anywhere from infections (prostate infections, bladder infections, etc.) to STDs and pain during ejaculation.
The symptoms of dyspareunia include pain that occurs with all aspects of sexual intercourse. This can mean pain only at sexual penetration, pain with certain partners or under certain circumstances, new pain after previously pain-free intercourse, or burning and aching with intercourse.
The first step to diagnose this condition is to review a thorough medical history with a physician. Once that has been done, a pelvic exam will follow in which the doctor will try to pinpoint the exact location of your pain. Sometimes, a pelvic ultrasound will also be recommended.
A physical therapist specializing in pelvic floor pain can evaluate this area and start treatment to improve sexual function. This would include manual therapy around the pelvis and pelvic floor, education on home exercises and relaxation techniques, and education on sexual health.