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Painful Intercourse (Dyspareunia)

Menopause, Dyspareunia, Painful Intercourse, Menopause Center Los AngelesIt’s not uncommon for women to experience painful intercourse at some point in their life, but a new pain can be distressing and harmful to an otherwise healthy sex life. Painful intercourse – or dyspareunia (“dis-pah-ROO-nee-ah”) – is a persistent or reoccurring pain in the genitals that can strike just before, during, or immediately after sexual intercourse.

Dyspareunia is known to have a variety of causes, both physical and psychological, which is why it is important to visit your gynecologist for an examination and diagnosis and to discuss the best treatment options.

Is Painful Intercourse During Menopause Normal?

It’s fairly normal for women going through menopause to experience pain during intercourse. The most likely cause is a lack of lubrication resulting from lower estrogen levels. For those entering perimenopause or menopause, you may experience:

  • Pain in a normally pain-free sex life
  • Pain at entry (initial vaginal penetration)
  • Pain at each instance of penetration, including inserting a tampon

If theses symptoms are present, you may be suffering from vaginal dryness, which is often also a symptom of menopause. Over-the-counter lubricants can help make intercourse more comfortable, however, there are other treatments that can provide additional relief.

Treatment Options for Vaginal Dryness

There are several topical estrogen therapies to replace estrogen in your genital area to aid in the production of vaginal lubricants.  There is also a new technology available in the United States called “Mona Lisa Touch,” which is a drug-free alternative to solving this common problem.

The Mona Lisa Touch a quick, painless laser procedure that delivers controlled energy to the vaginal tissue.  It stimulates collagen production and is safe for those who are unable to use hormones.  The full treatment requires 3 visits, 6 weeks apart, and takes less than 5 minutes per visit.  No anesthesia or pain medication is needed.

Another possible treatment option is the recently FDA-approved medication, Osphena. This drug has some of the same effects as estrogen in producing vaginal lubrication, but it does not carry the same risks for patients with histories of breast or endometrial cancers.

What Are Some Other Causes for Concern?

Painful Intercourse During Menopause, Menopause Center Los AngelesNot all causes of dyspareunia are due to menopause. If you’re experiencing:

  • Deep pain upon thrusting
  • Stinging or burning
  • Throbbing pain that persists hours after sex

It may be a red flag of a more serious underlying issue. Please visit your gynecologist to discuss this and to explore all treatment options.

Be prepared to answer honestly and openly. We as gynecologists are here to help you determine the cause of your pain, not to judge or embarrass you. Improving the quality of your health and your life is our goal.


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