8 Health Conditions That Can Make Sex Painful For Women

Sex is an act that may be considered easy by many. Most times, it can be mildly painful, which is normal. Pain during or after sex can be caused due to various reasons like an illness, an infection, a physical problem, or even a psychological problem.

If you experience pain during or after sex, it is a sign that something may not be right. It may be as simple as the lack of foreplay or a more serious health condition.


Most often painful sex is experienced by women, although men also experience pain at times. Let’s examine some health conditions that cause painful sex in women.

8 Health Conditions That Can Make Sex Painful For Women

1. Endometriosis

 Endometriosis Can Cause Painful Sex


Intense pain during sexual intercourse can be a sign of endometriosis. It is a condition in which the tissue that behaves like the lining of the womb is found in other parts of the body including the ovaries, fallopian tubes, inside the tummy, and in or around the bladder or bowel.

This condition is most commonly seen in women and girls of childbearing age. The symptoms of this condition include painful periods, pelvic pain, heavy bleeding during periods, pain during or after sex, and feeling tired most of the time. One of the most common complications of endometriosis is difficulty getting pregnant or not being able to bear a child at all.1


2. Ruptured Cysts

Ruptured Cysts Can Cause Painful Sex

Ovarian cysts are usually harmless and occur during menstruation and fade away naturally. Larger cysts, on the other hand, tend to burst due to the pressure applied on it. One of the causes of a ruptured cyst is sexual intercourse. Cysts may get ruptured during or immediately after sex.


Symptoms of a ruptured cyst include one-sided pain in the lower abdomen, pain during bowel movements, and menstrual cramps. In severe cases, the symptoms include vaginal bleeding, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. Ruptured cysts if left unchecked can lead to further complications called ovarian torsion.

3. Uterine Fibroids

Uterine Fibroids Can Cause Painful Sex


Fibroids are muscular tumors that grow in the wall of the uterus. They can grow as a single tumor or many can be present in the walls of the uterus. Symptoms of fibroids include heavy bleeding or painful periods, frequent urination, enlargement of the lower abdomen, pain during sex, etc.2

Fibroids are most common in women in their 40s and early 50s. Mild or severe cases of this health condition should be treated immediately.


4. Cervicitis

Cervicitis Can Cause Painful Sex

Cervicitis is the swelling or inflammation of the cervix. This condition is caused by an infection, caught during a sexual activity. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital herpes, genital warts, and trichomoniasis can cause the swelling. Sometimes, bacteria and too much growth of normal bacteria can cause cervicitis.


Symptoms of this condition include abnormal vaginal bleeding, unusual vaginal discharge, painful sexual intercourse, vaginal pain, and pressure in the pelvis.3

5. Vaginal Dryness

Vaginal Dryness Can Cause Painful Sex

Vaginal dryness is a common problem for women and many women experience this condition at some point in their lives. Often this condition is seen in women who are going through or have experienced menopause.

Symptoms of vaginal dryness include discomfort during sex, vaginal irritation, a reduced sex drive, difficulty getting aroused or reaching an orgasm, and repeated urinary tract infections (UTIs).4

Usually, a decreased level of the estrogen hormone causes vaginal dryness.This is common in women going through menopause. This condition may also occur in breastfeeding women and even after childbirth.

6. Vaginismus

Vaginismus Can Cause Painful Sex

Vaginismus is the term used to describe recurrent or persistent involuntary tightening of muscles around the vagina whenever penetration is attempted.5

The main symptom of vaginismus is tightening of the vagina, making it difficult or impossible for penetration. Other symptoms of vaginismus include burning of the vagina during penetration, intense fear of penetration and pain that makes you avoid sex, and loss of sexual desire.

The causes of vaginismus are usually associated with how your mind feels about sex. Thinking that your vagina is too small, negative sexual thoughts, previous sexual abuse, fear of pregnancy, relationship issues, etc are a few psychological causes. Physical causes include damage to the vagina (childbirth), painful conditions of the vagina and its surrounding areas, etc.

7. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease Can Cause Painful Sex

Pelvic inflammatory disease is a serious infection when STDs and other infections are not treated at the right time. This condition can cause chronic pain and infertility. It can occur in the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries.

PID is caused by two common infections – chlamydia and gonorrhea. It can also be caused by other infections like bacterial vaginosis.

Symptoms of this condition include heavy periods, pain in the stomach, fatigue, fever, vaginal discharge with unpleasant odor, and pain during sex.

8. Vulvodynia

Vulvodynia Can Cause Painful Sex

Vulvodynia is chronic pain in the vulva and the vulvar region without an identifiable cause. Some women experience pain in only one area of the vulva whereas other women experience it in different areas.

The most common symptom of this condition is pain – pain of varying degrees. There are two types of vulvodynia: localized and generalized vulvodynia. The main cause of this condition is pressure applied to the vestibule during sexual intercourse, tampon insertion, a vaginal examination, or even prolonged sitting.6

For generalized vulvodynia, activities that cause pressure to the vulva like prolonged sitting or sexual intercourse can aggravate the symptoms.

These health conditions can cause women to experience pain during sexual intercourse. Sometimes, this may even lead to depression. If you have been through any similar experiences, get yourself checked immediately and follow the instructions of your health professional to enjoy sex better with your partner.