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Why is penetrative sex painful for me?

Updated: Jul 29, 2023

Dyspareunia, or pain during penetrative intercourse, is more common than you might think and will likely have an existing solution. There are many possible explanations for what you are experiencing. For some individuals, dyspareunia can be caused by anxiety toward sex, a lack of enjoyment during sex, or other aspects of your relationship with the person(s) you are having intercourse with. For others, it can be explained by various conditions that are worth asking your doctor about. These include:

Find out here on how to access gynecological care near you.


Alimi Y, Iwanaga J, Oskouian RJ, Loukas M, Tubbs RS. The clinical anatomy of dyspareunia: A review. Clinical Anatomy. 2018 Oct;31(7):1013-7.

Caruso S, Monaco C. Dyspareunia in Women: Updates in Mechanisms and Current/Novel Therapies. Current Sexual Health Reports. 2019 Mar 15;11(1):9-20.

Mitchell KR, Geary R, Graham CA, et al. OBGYN. Obstetrics and Gynecology (2017, accessed August 18, 2020).

Molin B, Sand A, Berger AK, Georgsson S. Raising awareness about chronic pain and dyspareunia among women–a Swedish survey 8 months after childbirth. Scandinavian Journal of Pain. 2020 May 8;1(ahead-of-print).

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