Dyspaeurenia, or painful intercourse, is defined as “persistent or recurrent genital pain associated with sexual intercourse” (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). Painful sex can be extremely distressing, and can result in marital and relationship problems, affect your interest in sex and can have ongoing effects on your health and wellbeing.

Those with sexual pain may experience a variety of symptoms; this can include:

  • Pain on attempted penetration, which could be a burning or tearing sensation
  • Pain deep inside the vagina, where you may feel a deep ache or pain following intercourse
  • Pain or inability to insert a tampon
  • Pain or inability to insert a finger into the vagina


What is the cause?

Sexual pain disorders are psychological and of physical origin, therefore it is important to receive a diagnosis from your women’s health physiotherapist, gynaecologist, or general practitioner to ensure you are on the correct pathway. There may be several reasons why you are experiencing sexual pain including:

  • Inflammation or infection of the vulval skin (external part of the female genitals). The skin here is very fragile, therefore making it susceptible to conditions such as eczema and dermatitis.
  • Vaginismus, this is the involuntary contraction of the pelvic floor muscles when attempting penetration.
  • Pudendal neuralgia, nerve damage in the pelvis area which can result in chronic pelvic pain

1 in 5 women experience painful intercourse and suffer in silence. Some women may already have a diagnosis and unsure what to do next or where to go for help. We specialise in treatment pelvic and sexual pain and have experience in treating multiple conditions which may be the cause. The most important thing is you are not alone, and we are here to help you achieve pain free intercourse.

Chronic pelvic pain can be physically and mentally stressful and exhausting. Some women have been told it is only in your head, have been given no support and feel very isolated. This is where we come in to help.

How do you know if you have chronic pelvic pain?

  • Is it painful and/or difficult to insert a tampon?
  • Do you experience pain when having sex (vaginal penetration)?
  • Is it painful to urinate or pass a bowel motion?
  • Do you experience pain when your bladder is full?
  • Do you have pain in the tailbone region?
  • Are you often bloated?
  • Do you experience frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs) or thrush?
  • Do you experience vulval pain when sitting down while wearing tight clothing?
  • Do you suffer from severe period pain?


We understand that ever women is different and therefore there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. Our physiotherapists trained in this area will work with you to provide the right personalised treatment plan to manage and release your pain and enjoy intimacy again.

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