What Causes Pain During Sex?

The National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior reports that approximately 30 percent of women have experienced painful sexual intercourse. Dyspareunia, as it’s called, is quite common for women of all ages. However, many women are unsure whether the pain during sex they are experiencing is abnormal or not.

There is no singular answer as to what causes pain during sex or whether it is normal or abnormal. The severity and types of pain can range from fleeting to chronic, and is not necessarily caused by one singular thing. If you are experiencing pain during or after sex, contact a medical professional at Exer Urgent Care immediately as there could be an underlying health issue.


Vaginismus is a disorder of vaginal muscle spasms that can make sex very painful, if not impossible. It is an apareunia in that it completely prevents any type of sexual intercourse. Involuntary contractions of the pelvic floor muscles cause the vagina to squeeze very tightly. This makes it difficult to insert a penis or tampon and to conduct medical examinations. There are three types of vaginismus, and each categorizes how prevalent this disorder is in an individual and how often it occurs. While the cause of vaginismus is unknown, doctors have often linked it to anxiety or a specific fear of sex.

Secondary Vaginismus

This is a form of vaginismus that a woman develops at some point in her life due to a specific event. It is specific in its definition that the woman was able to have normal intercourse at some previous point and time. Some causes of secondary vaginismus could be infection, menopause, childbirth, or surgery. In the instance that the cause has been healed but the muscle spasms persist, it may be that the body has become conditioned to react this way.

Situational Vaginismus

Certain situations or people may trigger this type of vaginismus. For example, sexual encounters with certain people may trigger it, but others may not. A gynecological exam might cause the muscles to spasm, but inserting a tampon isn’t a problem. As the name implies, it’s very situational and varies greatly from person to person.

Global Vaginismus

This is the most extreme form of global vaginismus. It is always present and any object can trigger it.


Endometriosis is another common disease that can cause pain during sex. This chronic disease is when the tissue that lines the uterus has abnormal growth on the outside of the uterus. The misplaced tissue can become inflamed, causing painful cramping and eventually developing into scar tissue. As the tissue builds up over an adult woman’s life, the growth becomes larger and more painful. This continues until menopause occurs when the body stops producing the tissue.  

Approximately 10 to 20 percent of women in the U.S. are afflicted with endometriosis. The primary symptom is pain in the form of menstrual cramps. The growths can also cause intestinal pressure or be painful to the touch.


Cervicitis is a bacterial infection that causes inflammation of the cervix. It is a very common source of sexual discomfort and affects more than 50% of all adult women. Causes of cervicitis can be STDs (chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, HPV), allergies to a form of birth control (spermicides or latex condoms), exposure to certain chemicals (douches, etc.) or inserted objects. Besides the immediate pain caused by an inflamed cervix, other symptoms may include bleeding after intercourse, unusual discharge, or pain during urination.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

Bacterial infections that spread to the reproductive organs cause most cases of PID. Women under the age of 25 are more likely to develop PID but women of any age that are currently sexually active can experience it. PID can cause intense pain in the pelvic region during sex and can even lead to infertility if left untreated. 

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

It is common knowledge that STDs can cause pain both during and after sex. Many of the symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea, cause inflammation and itching of one’s genitals. You can visit any one of our 55 Southern California walk-in clinics to receive testing for STDs.

UrgentMED Can Help With Your Cervix Pain

If you are a woman experiencing cervix pain during intercourse or a man experiencing a burning sensation during sex, contact a medical professional near you. Sex shouldn’t cause pain. Take charge of your sexual health and don’t let a lack of insurance stop you from being informed. All of our 55 Southern California clinics accept most insurance and offer affordable rates if you prefer to Self-Pay. Avoid the hassle of hospitals and long waits of doctor offices at any of our convenient walk-in locations, no appointment necessary and visit today.

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