Sexual Pain/Dyspareunia

Sexual Pain/Dyspareunia

Sexual Pain/Dyspareunia

Painful sex is common, with 20.3% of women indicating they have experienced pain during sexual intercourse according to The Australian Study of Health and Relationships (2003). Unfortunately, for many people this can be a difficult topic to discuss and can lead to a delay in seeking assistance.  

What is Dsypareunia? 

Dyspareunia is the term used for pain experienced with/during sexual intercourse. This pain can occur before or during penetrative intercourse or be an ongoing pain experienced after intercourse has finished. Dyspareunia can be classified as either a superficial pain at the entrance to the vagina, or a deep pain felt within the pelvis, which is usually associated with thrusting.

      What causes Dyspareunia? 

      The cause can often be multi-factorial, a few of the most common causes can include: 

      • Vaginismus - involuntary spasm or tightening of the pelvic floor muscles 
      • Vulvodynia – a chronic pain or irritation of the vulva 
      • Decreased lubrication  
      • Decreased arousal or arousal disorders 
      • History of infection such as UTI’s or thrush  
      • History of trauma 
      • Psychological components such as depression or anxiety

        Management of Dyspareunia - How Can Physiotherapy Help?

        A multidisciplinary and holistic approach including your GP, a gynaecologist, a psychologist and even a sex therapist may be involved to address the factors contributing to Dyspareunia. Physiotherapy also plays an important role in the management of sexual pain and may involve the following: 

        • Management of tight/painful muscles - normalising pelvic floor muscle tone and function 
        • Education on pelvic floor muscles, pelvic anatomy and function 
        • Advice regarding positioning, arousal and lubrication 
        • Assistance with addressing contributing lifestyle factors.

        It begins with a 60 minute consultation with an experienced women's health physiotherapist. This time includes a detailed assessment to help facilitate your ongoing management. 

        We understand clients may be hesitant in seeking help for this condition, many aren't even aware they have a problem or that it can be improved. Many also feel a sense or nervousness, or embarrassment when approaching the subject. 

        If you do experience pain with sexual intercourse and are unsettled by the thought of seeking help, please remember these points:

        • There is help available
        • Dyspareunia is common - you are not alone
        • There is nothing to be embarrassed about
        • We see women of all ages for this condition.

        If any of the above rings true for you, please reach out to our friendly team - 9822 4999 (Armadale) 9486 0512 (East Melbourne). Alternatively, you can also book online here or email us on 

          If you would like to hear a bit more about Dyspareunia, the following podcast is a fantastic listen and speaks with women who have experienced pain with sex: ‘Ladies We Need to Talk’ Podcast

          Lauren Cairns
          Senior Physiotherapist

          Consulting at our East Melbourne practice

          Reference: Australian Study of Health and Relationships, The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, Volume 27, Number 2, April 2003. 

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