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What is Painful Sex?

Painful sex, also known as dyspareunia, is a recurrent or persistent genital pain that occurs during, after, or before sexual intercourse. The pain may be experienced at the point of penetration, or as deep pain with thrusting, or as a burning, aching, or throbbing sensation. Many women experience painful sex at some point in their lives.

Causes for Painful Sex

Common causes for painful sex include:

  • Insufficient lubrication
  • Injury or inflammation
  • Skin infection
  • Vaginal spasms
  • Congenital abnormalities
  • Surgery
  • Anxiety and stress
  • Psychological issues
  • Sexual abuse

How Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy Can Help Treat Painful Sex?

Pelvic floor physical therapy improves blood flow to the pelvic floor muscles, helps to release trapped nerves in the region, decreases sensitivity to pain, and stretches tight muscles, ligaments, and tendons in the pelvis.

What to Expect from Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy for Painful Sex

A personalized pelvic floor physical therapy program will be recommended based on your specific diagnosis. The therapy may include the following:

  • You will be taught special exercises aimed at relaxing vaginal and pelvic floor muscles. Biofeedback techniques will be used to help you properly isolate and exercises the muscles.
  • Manual therapy may also be performed to help stretch the muscles of the pelvis, hip, and lower back region, eliminate trigger points, and to release scar tissue adhesions from previous surgeries.
  • Dilators may be recommended to help vaginal muscles relax.
  • Hot or cold therapy may be used to help improve blood flow and stimulate healing of injured tissues.
  • Kegel exercises will be taught to tone up the muscles of the pelvic floor, vagina, and anal area. This will help decrease discomfort and pain symptoms from sexual intercourse.

Outcomes of Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy for Painful Sex

For most women experiencing painful sex, a personalized pelvic floor physical therapy program may be able to reduce or eliminate symptoms, enabling them to enjoy pain-free, pleasurable sexual intercourse.