There’s no question that a hysterectomy is life-altering. It’s a major surgical procedure that not only requires some recovery time, but may also cause some dramatic changes in your body’s hormonal balance.
There are certain health topics many women don’t feel comfortable discussing, which is understandable. However, you could be needlessly suffering if you haven’t brought your issues up with your doctor. There are treatments available for the majority of conditions and you may be surprised to know how common your condition is.
One such condition is painful sex. It’s estimated that about 30% of women have recently experienced pain during sexual intercourse. Now, the issue with stats like that is it’s hard to discern what the cause is exactly. For example, if you’ve experienced painful sex due to lack of foreplay or lubrication, then this is a behavioral issue that can be self-corrected between yourself and your partner. But, that doesn’t tell the whole story because some of the causes of painful sex are out of your control. In those instances, you’d do well to speak with your doctor about what treatment options are available to you.
Being unable to enjoy sexual activity places an increased burden on your life. Some women avoid sex entirely out of fear they will have a painful experience and the condition, formally known as dyspareunia, is often linked to mental issues such as depression or anxiety.
This doesn’t have to be your story. It is possible to find enjoyment in sex again and get your life back. First, it’s important to understand the various causes of painful sex. Then, what treatment options are available to you. Only your doctor can tell you with certainty how to best treat your pain, but here is a good starting point for your research.
Causes of painful sex
Painful sex can occur because of behaviors or because of changes in the body. One very common reason is menopause. Roughly a quarter to a half of women who have gone through menopause report consistently experiencing pain when engaging in sexual activity. That’s because following menopause, the vaginal walls tend to be dryer and thinner, which can be the culprit behind painful intercourse. Breast cancer has a similar effect of causing dryness which can be painful.
There are some medical conditions beyond aging that could be causing you to have painful sex if you haven’t yet reached menopause. For example, interstitial cystitis, which you may know as painful bladder syndrome, can sometimes manifest as pelvic pain as well. This irritation in the pelvic nerves could translate into pain during sex. Pain levels vary from discomfort to severe,
Other conditions that could be behind your pain include vulvovaginitis and vulvodynia. The former is an umbrella term for many different kinds of vaginal infections that can use painful inflammation. The latter is not an infection, but rather a painful syndrome with no identifiable cause. You may also experience painful sex due to urethritis, which is an inflammation of the urethra due to infection.
While physical causes of pain are the most easily observable and treatable, you may also be experiencing symptoms because of stress, tension, issues pertaining to your mental health, or a lack of arousal which could be related to another condition.
No matter the cause, your doctor can provide suggestions on how to treat it. Here are some of the treatments used for painful sex.
Treatments for painful sex
When you first come in for your appointment, an examination will take place to look for identifiable causes of your pain. This will consist of a pelvic exam where the doctor will look for signs of narrowing or strictures which could be causing the issue.
From there, the goal will basically be to get to know you. Questions pertaining to how you’re feeling, what’s your general health like, what some of your sexual habits are, and others designed to get a better understanding of the root cause of your issue will be asked. Following the exam and conversation, your doctor will make recommendations. You may need to see a pelvic floor therapist, change your way of thinking, or take medications.
In office treatments may include the insertion of a device that delivers estrogen therapy to counteract the effects of menopause. You may even be a good candidate for laser treatments that stimulate collagen production. This well help restore your vagina to a more youthful state and reduce dryness. If scarring is at the root of your issues, additional procedures may be recommended.
Now that you know more about the causes and treatments for painful sex, it’s time for next steps. If you haven’t already spoken to your doctor, you should. Contact us today. The team at Southeast Urogyn is here to answer all of your questions and provide you with the treatment you need to live your best life. Don’t let painful sex continue to be a burden. We’ll give you the professional care you need to get your life back.
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