Painful Intercourse

Pain With Intercourse for Women

Recent research shows three out of four women experience pain during intercourse at some point in their lives. There are many common causes of pain, including vaginal dryness. Long-term, persistent pain may be a sign of something serious, such as cancer.

Lack of Lubrication

A lack of lubrication is usually the cause of painful intercourse. Medications, bathing and even age can cause a lack of natural vaginal lubrication. Use a water-based lubricant before, during and after intercourse to ease the pain. If extra lubrication does not help, consult your doctor to rule out something more serious.

Yeast Infection

A yeast infection can cause painful intercourse, and it can also cause itching of the genital area. The most common causes of vaginal yeast infections are bath products with artificial colors and scents, douching, and lubrication. If you suspect you have a yeast infection, there are over-the-counter (OTC) remedies available to relieve the symptoms. You can use these OTC treatments for up to five days. If you are still having symptoms, you should see your doctor because you might have a resistant infection or another condition. Yeast infections can lead to vaginitis, also known as inflammation of the vagina.


Your body changes after giving birth. New moms who are breastfeeding experience a change in hormone levels, which may cause a reduction in natural vaginal lubrication. The walls of the vagina need time to recover from childbirth and are more prone to tearing in the early weeks after giving birth. Give your body time to heal before trying intercourse again.


Vaginismus is a reflexive closing of the muscles of the vagina during penetration. It can cause pain during intercourse, or even make intercourse impossible. It is usually treated with therapy from a trained professional.


Endometriosis is a condition that causes the lining of the uterus to grow in other areas of the body. The condition affects about 7 percent of women. Painful periods is another symptom of endometriosis. Treatment of endometriosis may require laparoscopic surgery. If you are experiencing symptoms or have a family member who has been diagnosed with the condition, it is important to see your doctor. Endometriosis is often hereditary and may be passed down the family tree.

Make a list of the symptoms you are experiencing to bring to your appointment for discussion with your health care provider.

If you are experiencing painful intercourse, it is important to talk with your OB-GYN. Your doctor can help recommend a treatment method or tests for further diagnosis.