Approximately 15 percent of women and 5 percent of men experience this condition at some time in their lives. Fortunately this is a treatable condition.
Painful sex can be caused by both psychological and physical factors. Sometimes a new brand of condom or different foreplay techniques will alleviate the problem. When the cause is psychological, therapy for one or both partners is recommended.
When men experience pain during sex
This usually happens when the man becomes erect or ejaculates. This genital pain usually originates from an infection or an irritation. Inflammation of the urethra or the prostrate could also cause pain during ejaculation.
Sexually transmitted diseases, such as herpes or genital warts, may cause pain while a man is getting or maintaining an erection. If a man’s foreskin is tight or inflames, it may hurt as it is retracted. When infection is the cause of pain, a course of antibiotics usually resolves the problem.
When women experience pain during sex
The culprit causing pain for women is usually vaginal dryness, which is felt on entry, but eases later on. When a woman becomes sexually aroused, vaginal glands secrete a fluid that acts as a lubricant. If this process is disrupted, inadequate lubrication can cause painful intercourse.
Insufficient foreplay or changes in women’s hormonal levels can also cause lubrication problems. Antihistamines can also cause vaginal dryness.
A water-soluble lubricant such as K Y Jelly could also solve the problem. Petroleum-based lubricants should not be used as they reduce the effectiveness of condoms and also encourage vaginal infections.
Post-menopausal women could also consider hormone replacement therapy to alleviate vaginal dryness.
(Health24, updated December 2008)
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