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 [email protected]

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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Our values are the basis of everything we do at Fitwise.

Excellence, Respect, Innovation and Fun – For our clients, for our team and for ourselves.

This is evident with the service we provide, the environment in which we provide it, the way in which we operate as a team and how we care for and value our clients, referral partners and ourselves; we live the Fitwise values every day.

Our culture is one where everyone feels supported, respected and safe. Our clients and our team, experience a leading-edge health environment where we remember to have fun along the way.

Our Story

In 2004, Gen McGlashan and Libby Oldfield founded Fitwise Physiotherapy. They first met in 1994.  Libby was Gen’s physio when she had her first child. Gen then worked for Libby for 10 years in Libby’s previous business, located at the Epworth Freemasons Maternity Unit in East Melbourne. They have been a team working together for a very long time!!

Libby and Gen have always had a passion for empowering women, by helping provide accurate evidence based information and treatment to help women live their best lives. Excellence in all that they do, practising and operating in an innovative way has always been their core. Fitwise was the first multi-practitioner practice providing Women’s Health physiotherapy consultations, exercise classes and clinical pilates in Melbourne.

Gen and Libby

In February 2005 Gen and Libby moved their one room practice to Albert St East Melbourne. They had expanded to 2 treatment rooms, an exercise studio and a pilates studio with a small team of physiotherapists and one receptionist. This was exciting as they wanted to be able to help more people and to grow their team – enabling their other passion: teaching and mentoring clinicians who also wanted to work within the Women’s, Men’s and Pelvic Health arena.

5 years later, they expanded their East Melbourne clinic and in 2015 opened their second clinic in Armadale.

Remedial Massage, Myotherapy and Dietetics have been an exciting addition in recent years, with Podiatry and Exercise Physiology being added in 2022.

Fitwise Physiotherapy | Armadale

The Fitwise team has now grown to include 18 amazing practitioners and 12 wonderful administrative team members and is still growing!

Libby and Gen have always loved providing a holistic service, treating a variety of conditions in consultations and providing exercise appropriate for different life stages. The community of clients that are part of the Fitwise family, (some who have been part of the journey from the very beginning – over 17 years ago), are the biggest reason they do what they do. For Gen and Libby, it is a privilege to be part of these wonderful people’s lives.