The cause of painful penetration varies depending on the person. STDs, endometriosis, anxiety, lack of sexual arousal, or a previously traumatic sexual encounter can lead women to experience dyspareunia, the medical term for the condition.
For many women, vaginal dryness is the main cause of painful intercourse. Dr. Kirstin Mitchell, senior research fellow at the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit at Glasgow University, and lead author of this latest paper, explains, “In the older age group, this is likely to be due to the hormonal changes in the menopause. In the case of the 16- to 24-year-olds, it may be about young women not feeling sufficiently aroused and therefore not lubricated enough, so that penetration is painful. Young women may then grow up thinking sex hurts.”
Instead of suffering in silence, it is recommended that women talk to their general practitioner to pinpoint the source of the pain, since causes can be so varied.
Mitchell recommends that schools extend their sexual education courses to include healthy communication between partners.
“Trust and respect are key foundations for good sex,” she told The Guardian.