What causes pain during sex

Suffering instead of pleasure: where does pain come from during sex?

Almost every woman has found sex uncomfortable at some point. About ten percent even regularly cause sexual intercourse so severe pain that they completely lose their desire for it. Why does making love suddenly become a physical ordeal? The most common causes at a glance.

You don't talk about pain during sex - especially not with your partner. The shame is too great. That is by no means beneficial. In most cases, silence leads straight to a relationship crisis. One loses pleasure in pain. The other does not understand what is going on and, when in doubt, looks to himself to blame.

So the most important thing in advance: If you feel pain during sex, you should talk about it openly - especially with your partner, in order to clear up any misunderstandings. But also with the doctor to clarify what is behind the sexual pain.

More of a women's problem

Regardless of how pain is expressed during sex, how severe it is and what is behind it, medical professionals always speak ofDyspareunia. It can be burning, itching, stinging or cramps - the pain is manifold. Dyspareunia is therefore also defined quite generally: as Discomfort during or after intercourse.

Sexual pain occurs in both sexes. There are no reliable figures, but it is estimated that women suffer from it much more often: Experts suspect that around ten to 20 percent of all women are affected.

The causes of pain during sex can be organic in nature or of psychological origin be. Often, however, the head and body are mutually dependent at some point: She suffers during coitus, which triggers fear of the next time, abdominal and pelvic muscles cramp, renewed pain is inevitable. The good news: There are ways out of the vicious circle.

Pain during sex? Talk to your partner! (c) WavebreakmediaMicro / Fotolia

Common causes of pain during sex

If you know the triggers, you can in most cases also do something about pain during sex and soon find sexual intercourse nice again. Physical causes in particular can be dealt with relatively easily and quickly.

Infection and inflammation

In many cases, a urinary tract infection is to blame for the pain. If it does not heal on its own, the bacteria can be stopped with medication.

Infections with fungi (vaginal mycosis) or viruses (genital herpes or warts) are also possible. They cause certain areas of the vagina to be so irritated that they are sensitive to touch. In those cases, topically applied ointments that have either antifungal or antiviral effects can help.

Injuries to the clitoris (cuts, operations) and inflammation of special glands at the vaginal entrance (bartholinitis), the ovaries or the fallopian tubes, for example, also often cause pain.

Vaginal dryness (lubrication disorder)

If there is a lack of vaginal fluid, sex becomes an ordeal. When the penis enters the dry vagina, tiny injuries are easy to develop and become infected. Of course it hurts. Possible reasons are: lack of arousal, hormonal changes in or lack of estrogen after menopause or psychological problems.


As a result of the disease, the lining of the uterus grows into neighboring organs, such as the ovaries or bladder for example. These growths are benign, but extremely painful - even during sex. The tissue foci can be treated with hormones or surgically removed.

> Learn more about endometriosis

Scars and adhesions

Old, actually healed injuries can also hurt in certain sex positions. Such tissue damage can sometimes result from childbirth (with a perineal tear), sexually transmitted diseases or operations.

Lichen sclerosus

The chronic inflammatory skin disease occurs primarily genitally. Typical symptoms are: burning sensation and itching. In addition, the skin becomes keratinized, the labia and clitoris shrink. The vaginal opening is now much narrower, which is why coitus is painful. Lichen sclerosus is not (yet) curable, but the symptoms can be kept in check with preparations containing cortisone. The doctor may be able to surgically enlarge a narrowed vaginal entrance.

> Find out more about lichen sclerosus here

Stress, relationship problems, depression, experiences of abuse

Mental tension can affect the abdominal muscles. It tenses up and prevents women from enjoying sex. Mentally caused pain usually requires more protracted therapy than physically induced pain, but it can also be treated. Psychotherapists or psychologists are suitable contacts for those affected.