Dyspareunia is a persistent, reoccurring pain that stems from penetration, and can have a burning, throbbing, or aching sensation. It can happen to people of all genders, though it is more common in women.


What are some of the root causes of dyspareunia? 


Dyspareunia can be caused by physical or psychological factors. This sensation can occur if you’re feeling disinterested or anarounsed (causing dryness/lack of natural lubrication), and can also be triggered by anxiety, depression, or stress. There are an array of physical factors that can cause dyspareunia as well, including vaginal dryness, pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, irritable bowel syndrome, cystitis, and urinary tract infections. Because there are so many potential underlying factors, it can be difficult to know the true reason why you're experiencing pain. If you’re feeling stumped, you should seek a professional opinion.


Can dyspareunia go away on its own? 


“Yes, but that depends on the root cause,” says Dr. Jolene Brighten. Sometimes reliving pain can be as easy as finding the perfect lube, or wearing breathable underwear while recovering from a yeast infection.  But most of the time, it will take a bit more guidance and effort than that. Try your best not to get discouraged (we know, first hand, how frustrating this can be) and consult a doctor to decide the best form of treatment. 


What are the best ways to treat dyspareunia?


“You’ll need to investigate and treat the underlying cause,” said Dr. Brighten. “Different therapy methods, including pelvic floor physical therapy, hormone replacement therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy have been proven to be helpful. If the cause of your pain is due to fibroids, endometriosis, or interstitial cystitis, you should meet with your doctor and/or a specialist to address these. I caution people against using pain medication for sex, as it could mask an underlying condition. It is always best to meet with your doctor to discuss the cause before committing to a treatment.” 


What if you’re feeling discouraged by dyspareunia?


“Partner with a clinician who is experienced, and continue to advocate for yourself,” Dr. Brighten encourages. “It is important to track your symptoms and write down the severity, frequency, sensation, and duration of pain so you can discuss with your doctor. If it is impacting your mental health, relationship, or ability to work then you want to talk to your doctor about this too and consider meeting with a mental health expert.”  While it may take a bit of patience and time, hope is not lost, friends. Pain-free sex is around the corner. 💓

Dr. Jolene Brighten is a prominent leader in women’s medicine and the emerging science of Post-Birth Control Syndrome — studying the effects of hormonal birth control on female health. A fierce patient advocate and completely dedicated to uncovering the root cause of hormonal imbalances, Dr. Brighten empowers women worldwide to take control of their health and their hormones. She is an international speaker, clinical educator, medical advisor within the tech community, and considered a leading authority on women’s health. Dr. Brighten is also part of the MindBodyGreen Collective and a faculty member for the American Academy of Anti Aging Medicine. Her work has been featured in the New York Post, Forbes, Cosmopolitan, Huffington Post, Bustle, The Guardian, and ABC News.