Pain During Sex
How a male partner responds to a woman’s chronic vulvovaginal pain could make her pain increase, but may also improve her sexual satisfaction.
Vulvodynia is marked by discomfort in the vestibule – the area that surrounds the vaginal opening, where the vulva and vagina meet. In addition to the vaginal opening, the vestibule includes the urethra, through which urine exits the body. It also houses the Bartholin’s gland, responsible for vaginal lubrication, and other smaller glands that emit vaginal discharge.
Women withVulvodynia feel discomfort, burning, and/or stinging in this area, sometimes at the slightest touch. Intercourse, pelvic exams, and inserting tampons are usually painful. Each woman with Vulvodynia has a different pain threshold. For some, intercourse is still possible, but for others, it’s not.
Doctors aren’t certain what causes Vulvodynia. On examination, they sometimes see some redness or inflammation in the area, but sometimes there is nothing visible. It is believed that for women with Vulvodynia, nerve fibers in the vestibule are oversensitive or overgrown.
The effects of Vulvodynia can be serious. Many women with Vulvodynia avoid sex, feel decreased desire and arousal, and experience more stress and relationship problems.
There are some treatments available for Vulvodynia. Women can apply a anesthetic cream or gel to the area and temporarily numb the sensitive nerves. This can be especially helpful for intercourse. Other treatments include vaginal dilators, which can help relax the pelvic floor muscles. Some women find pelvic floor therapy helpful and others go for sex therapy. Surgery is sometimes recommended, but this is rare.
Hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) refers to a woman’s chronic or ongoing lack of interest in sex, to the point that it causes her personal distress or problems in her relationships.
At DOSH, We are here for you when you are ready for us.
The Department of Sexual Health