Common Causes of Sexual Pain

Sexual intercourse is often described as exciting, enjoyable, and intimate. Unfortunately, about 75% of women experience pain with intercourse at some point in their lives. If you’re experiencing sexual pain, whether chronic or temporary, it could be a signal that something more is going on. 

At Integrative Primary Care in Houston, Syed Farhat Zaidi, MD, and our care team are dedicated to offering comprehensive health care services to ensure your complete wellness, including sexual wellness. Dr. Zaidi offers help for sexual dysfunction to both men and women experiencing sexual problems.  

While men can experience a loss of libido or erectile dysfunction, the issue women most often face is pain with sex or dyspareunia. In this blog, we discuss the common causes of painful sex, and when you should seek help.  

What are the common causes of sexual pain?

Sexual pain can happen for many reasons, ranging from physical problems to psychological issues. If you experience painful sex, you may feel pain only during entry, or deep pain during intercourse, or burning, aching, or throbbing pain that can last hours after sex. 

Some of the most common causes of sexual pain include: 

Hormone changes

Changes in hormones ― usually the result of changes due to menopause ― can affect your vaginal tissue. With lower estrogen and progesterone, the vagina can become drier, and tissue can become thinner, which can cause painful sex.

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)

Sexually transmitted diseases are very common and affect millions of people each year. Some of these STDs can cause vaginal irritation, which can make sexual intercourse painful. Talk to your doctor about an STD screening to keep you and your partner safe.


With endometriosis, the lining of your uterus grows outside the womb. The extra tissue can cause pelvic pain and discomfort, especially during sexual intercourse. If endometriosis is the cause of painful sex, the pain can last up to two days after intercourse. 

Lack of lubrication

One of the most common causes of sexual pain can be a lack of sufficient lubrication. There can be many reasons for this, from not enough foreplay to too much stress to being tired. Using a water-based lubricant is a good solution, but if the problem persists, talk to your doctor. 

Changes in sexual behavior

Sometimes painful sex is the result of a change in your sexual behavior. You may experience pain if you’ve had sex more frequently, tried a new position, engaged in rougher or deeper sex, or tried sex toys. 


Vaginismus is a condition in which the muscles that control the opening of the vagina contract involuntarily. If you have vaginismus, you may also have trouble using tampons. While the exact cause isn’t known, the condition is often linked to fear about penetration.  

How can I learn more about sexual pain?

If you’re experiencing frequent or severe pain during sexual intercourse, it’s important to talk to an experienced medical professional, such as Dr. Zaidi. Dr. Zaidi will evaluate your symptoms and perform a physical exam to rule out any physical gynecological condition that might be causing you pain. 

Once Dr. Zaidi understands the root cause of your sexual pain, she may recommend different treatment therapies, such as estrogen creams for improved vaginal health, hormone therapies, or lifestyle changes.  

To learn more about the causes of sexual pain and how to get treatment, book an appointment online or over the phone with Integrative Primary care.

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