An affiliate of Hera Women's Health

Ways to Successfully Treat Painful Intercourse

Ways to Successfully Treat Painful Intercourse

Sexual intercourse is usually considered a pleasurable act, but for some women, having intercourse can regularly bring physical pain. Experiencing pain during sexual intercourse might make you feel embarrassed, leave you physically unable to have intercourse, or impact your relationship.

OB/GYNs Anita Gondy, MD, and Saovaros V. Michaels, MD, from Women's Health Associates of Southern Nevada, Northwest in Las Vegas, Nevada, want to assure you that pain during sexual intercourse is a common problem for women with many possible solutions. Find out the options available to relieve painful intercourse.

Why can intercourse be painful?

Painful intercourse is a challenge that can come from several different causes. Very often, the cause of painful intercourse comes from a condition called vulvodynia, another underlying medical condition, or the side effects of menopause.


Vulvodynia is a chronic condition that causes your vulva, or outer female genitals, to ache, burn, swell, or itch. The pain can occur throughout your vulva or be localized to one area. 

There are no external symptoms of vulvodynia, but without treatment, this condition can make it difficult or impossible to have intercourse.

Other medical conditions

Various other gynecological issues can cause painful intercourse as well as other symptoms. Untreated uterine fibroids, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, pelvic inflammatory disease, vaginismus, and vaginal infections can all make intercourse painful.


After going through menopause, your vagina can become thinner and less elastic as a result of estrogen loss. In a significant number of women, this leads to vaginal atrophy, a condition that can make intercourse more painful as well as cause incontinence and vaginal dryness.

Solutions for painful intercourse

Painful intercourse doesn’t have to put a damper on your intimate life forever. There are many treatment options available, depending on what our team determines is causing your problem.

Treating vulvodynia

Some at-home remedies can relieve symptoms of vulvodynia enough for you to comfortably enjoy intercourse. These include avoiding any potential vulvar irritants, avoiding activities that put pressure on your vaginal area, and keeping your vulva dry and clean.

If making these lifestyle changes hasn’t helped, our team can prescribe medication, administer nerve blocks, and use local anesthesia that stops your pain.

Treating other medical conditions causing painful intercourse

When you have another medical condition causing painful intercourse, treating that condition usually stops your pain. For example, our team can treat endometriosis with an in-office procedure or prescribe medication to treat a vaginal infection.

Treating painful intercourse caused by menopause

If menopause or other estrogen loss has caused painful intercourse, our team prescribes treatments that help replace your estrogen levels or heal your vaginal tissues. Estrogen creams, pills, and rings all replace your supply of estrogen and help heal vaginal tissue, and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) restarts estrogen production when applied inside your vagina.

We also prescribe a pill and vaginal insert, Osphena® and Intrarosa®, that treat painful intercourse caused by estrogen loss. These nonhormonal treatments either mimic or stimulate the effects of estrogen.

If you prefer not to use a hormonal treatment, the MonaLisa Touch® uses laser technology to stimulate tissue regrowth and lubricate and strengthen your vaginal walls. Once this has happened, you will no longer experience painful intercourse.

With the best treatment, sexual intercourse can go from being painful back to pleasurable. For help and treatment for painful intercourse, contact us online or by phone today.

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