Painful Intercourse (Dyspareunia)

Rush experts find out why you're experiencing pain during sex and treat these pain causes. With compassionate care, we work to improve your quality of life.

Rush experts find out why you're experiencing pain during sex and treat these pain causes. With compassionate care, we work to improve your quality of life.

Painful intercourse is the more common term for dyspareunia — a condition when women experience vaginal pain during or after sex. Often this pain causes low libido in women and has several causes.

Signs You Should Get Help for Painful Intercourse

If pain is affecting your sex life, especially if you have pain every time you have sex, talk to your Rush gynecologist or primary care doctor.

Dyspareunia has one primary symptom — pain — but many potential causes, including:

  • Vaginal dryness: A lack of lubrication is the most common cause of pain; this happens more frequently after menopause
  • Emotional issues: Psychological issues can cause physical pain during intercourse
  • Sexually transmitted infections: Including chlamydia and gonorrhea
  • Endometriosis: In addition to painful sex, this can also cause painful menstrual periods
  • Vaginismus: When the muscles around the vagina spasm involuntarily, causing the vagina to close
  • Vulvovaginitis: An inflammation or infection of the vulva and vagina
  • Interstitial cystitis: A chronic inflammation of the bladder

Painful Intercourse Treatment at Rush

Many of the causes of painful intercourse are highly treatable. Rush providers diagnose the cause of your pain and identify the treatment most likely to help. Treatment options include:

  • Medications
  • Topical creams or ointments
  • Pelvic floor physical therapy
  • Psychotherapy or talk therapy
  • Surgery (in rare cases)
  • Vaginal Laser Treatment (MonaLisa Touch)
stethoscope Meet our painful intercourse (dyspareunia) providers

Rush Excellence in Painful Intercourse Care

  • Nationally ranked for gynecologic care: U.S. News & World Report ranked Rush University Medical Center among the nation's best for gynecologic care. Our gynecology program takes a holistic approach to your care, prioritizing your preferences and offering you a full range of treatment options that consider your overall well-being.
  • Physical therapists offer targeted care: Our teams of certified physical therapists, at both Rush Copley Medical Center and Rush University Medical Center, completed additional training in the field of pelvic health. Recognizing the personal nature of this treatment, our pelvic floor physical therapists are all female.
  • Specialized program for pelvic health: Rush University Medical Center offers a program for abdominal and pelvic health problems, including painful intercourse. Many patients within this program are experiencing multiple pelvic issues and need holistic care. A team of experts, such as urogynecologists, gastroenterologists and physical therapists, work together to develop a care plan that treats your conditions comprehensively.
  • Caring for your emotional health: The Marital and Sex Therapy Program at Rush University Medical Center specializes in helping women who experience painful intercourse or other sex-related issues. A clinical psychologist will partner with you to work through any emotional issues that may be impacting your sex life.
  • Improving intimacy: We know that painful intercourse can cause low libido and affect intimacy levels with your partner. That’s why Rush offers many treatment options for vaginal dryness and pain during sex, including a new vaginal laser treatment that is nonhormonal and noninvasive.