Painful Sex
(aka dyspareunia)


What to do when pleasure equals pain.
We’re here to guide you through.

About 1 in 10 women, particularly those aged 18–24, experience pain with sex.

Sex hurts, is that normal?

With the exception of mutually consenting adults exploring pain and pleasure in sex as part of a healthy sexual relationship – sex shouldn’t hurt.

Painful sex (medical term ‘Dyspareunia’) can occur before, during or after vaginal intercourse.

For many women, painful sex often doesn’t have anything to do with a lack of desire, and is instead an involuntary response.

What are the two main types of Dyspareunia?

There are two main types of dyspareunia, which are classified according to where the pain is located:

Superficial dyspareunia: pain that occurs upon attempted penetration, which can be the result of vaginismus, size disparity between the penis and vaginal entrance, sexual arousal disorders, infections or an intact or thickened hymen.
Deep dyspareunia: pain that occurs deep inside your pelvis, which is often experienced or worsened with thrusting

What causes Dyspareunia?

The cause of Dyspareunia is multifactorial – meaning that there is more than just one factor responsible for it. Think of Dyspareunia as a symptom of something, not a cause.

If sex is causing pain, you don’t need a doctor to tell you that what you’re experiencing is dyspareunia. But it’s still important to seek professional advice from a doctor who specialises in women’s sexual health to determine the possible causes and the best treatment for you.

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