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Painful Intercourse

It may be an intimate problem, but it’s not an uncommon one: Nearly three out of four women experience painful intercourse at some point in their lives. Painful sex, or dyspareunia, may happen before, during, or after sex. When the problem is persistent or recurrent, it’s important to rule out or uncover any underlying conditions. From his first-rate practice in Arcadia, California, Foothill Urogenital Health, board-certified urologist Dr. Alan Yamada provides comprehensive care for women affected by painful intercourse. If you live in the San Gabriel Valley or surrounding area, call the oce to schedule an appointment today.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is dyspareunia?

Dyspareunia is the medical term used for painful vaginal intercourse that occurs either frequently or all the time. It may involve feeling genital pain at any point just before, during, or after intercourse.

Common symptoms of the condition may include:

  • Pain during sexual penetration
  • Pain that emerges following normal intercourse
  • Burning or aching pain in the vaginal canal
  • Throbbing pain that lasts long after intercourse
What causes painful intercourse?

A wide range of problems can lead to pain during sex, including physical issues, gynecological conditions, and emotional problems.

Emotions that make it hard for you to relax during sex can make intercourse painful, as they interfere with arousal and lubrication. Medications, including some birth control methods, can also interfere with your sexual response and lead to painful intercourse.

Gynecological problems that may be at the root of painful sex include:

Hormonal changes

The drop in estrogen during perimenopause and menopause can cause vaginal dryness and make intercourse uncomfortable.


This common pain disorder affects the vulva, and may be the result of inflammation, nerve damage, or pelvic floor muscle dysfunction.


This is the reflex contraction, or tightening, of vaginal muscles during sex. It can make intercourse painful, particularly during penetration.

Contact dermatitis

A skin disorder that frequently affects the vulva, contact dermatitis is an itching, burning, or painful reaction to an irritating substance such as a lubricant or a perfumed soap.

Perineum trauma

Women who have experienced either tears in the perineum or an episiotomy during childbirth may experience painful intercourse for months after giving birth.

What are my treatment options?

Before you can find a treatment that will work for you, you’ll need a proper diagnosis of the underlying problem. Dr. Yamada will ask you about your symptoms, take your medical history, and perform a comprehensive exam.

Treatment options range from changing prescription medications that interfere with natural lubrication to applying lubricants prior to intercourse. Physical therapy or surgery may be required for vaginal trauma or injury.

For many women, painful intercourse is the result of vaginal dryness caused by lower estrogen levels. In such cases, vaginal rejuvenation treatments using MonaLisa Touch® laser therapy is a quick, safe, and effective way to correct the problem for good.

MonaLisa Touch

MonaLisa Touch uses healing laser technology to revitalize the tissues that line your vaginal canal. By restoring proper trophic balance to these tissues, the treatment directly addresses the underlying condition that causes painful sex. MonaLisa Touch laser therapy can also help treat:

  • Vaginal burning or itching
  • Vaginal laxity, or loose tissues
  • Stress urinary incontinence

*Individual Results May Vary

Patients Success