Coitalgia, when sex hurts

Coitalgia, when sex hurts

Normally, we relate sex with pleasurable sensations and joy, but pain during sex It is more frequent than most people believe and can become a serious problem in relationships and in the sexual and personal life of the subject, since they can cause anxiety situations affecting the quality of intimate relationships.

It is called coitalgia or dyspareunia to painful intercourse in both men and women. It can be of a very variable degree, from mild discomfort to deep pain and can occur just before, during or after coital union.

Physical causes


In men it is usually much less frequent than in women, although men who suffer from it can see their sex life very depleted. In the case of men It can occur at the time of erection, penetration or ejaculation, being more common at the time of ejaculation. Mainly the pain is located in the penis, although the testicles or prostate can be affected.

The causes that can cause discomfort and pain in the case of men can be:

  • Phimosis or foreskin shrinkage
  • Allergic reactions to latex
  • Anatomical abnormalities of the penis such as Peyronie's disease
  • Urinary infection
  • Tears in the frenulum
  • Contact with the IUD or spermicides during penetration

Although in the case of men, physical and organic causes tend to prevail more, it may also be due to psychological reasons; anxiety, inadequate education, or previous traumatic experiences.


It is much more common for women to experience discomfort or pain in intercourse since there are many more causes that can cause this discomfort. There can be both physical and psychological or a combination of both.

Physical causes:

  • Skin problems, dermatitis, allergic reactions, product of the use of scented soaps and some lubricants.
  • Endometriosis, which is an abnormal growth of the lining cells of the uterus (womb) that can cause pain, heavy bleeding and problems getting pregnant.
  • Injury during intercourseSometimes small trauma can occur due to vaginal fundus distention. If the pain remains it is advisable to consult with the gynecologist as soon as possible.
  • Vaginal drynessThis can occur at any age, but it is more frequent in menopause and the period that precedes it due to the decrease in estrogen, which can cause irritation and burning during intercourse. In this case it is best to opt for the use of lubricants.
  • VaginitisIt is an inflammation caused by a fungal or bacterial infection, the woman will have discomfort in intercourse, but it will also generate vaginal discharge and burning.
  • Episiotomy. It is the cut made during childbirth and can also cause pain during relationships. If it is extended in the months it will be advisable to use physical therapies and, in extreme cases, surgery
  • Latex allergy. A small group of women have allergic reactions to the materials with which condoms are manufactured. In this case it is better to use hypoallergenic condoms or other contraceptive methods.
  • Certain medications. Some women who take birth control pills may feel a decrease in their libido, it can also occur with an abuse of analgesics or antibiotics, as these can alter natural lubrication.

Psychological causes

  • Emotional problems. Feelings of fear, guilt, shame or stress prevent the relaxation necessary to achieve arousal. This will decrease sexual desire and may make penetration painful.
  • Difficulties at the level of the couple. Difficulties in the relationship can lead to feelings that cause discomfort in the sexual act.

Although, above all, female coitalgia is mainly associated with vaginismus During the excitement phase the woman experiences a relaxation of the vaginal muscles, but in vaginismus this musculature is contracted in such a way that it prevents penetration. This is because women with vaginismus tense before sexual intercourse, although there is a desire to maintain intercourse, the body response is very different and that causes great discomfort to women.

Vaginismus is caused by a combination of physical and / or psychological factors that can range from anxiety or stress to changes related to age, births, medical problems. These problems make it impossible to achieve vaginal penetration due to the contraction of the muscles surrounding the vagina. It can also be produced by a wrong sexual education, irrational ideas about penetration or fear of becoming pregnant, or even distorted ideas of their own genitals.


Talking about pain in relationships for most people is a topic that causes a lot of shame, that's why good educational work is very important since awareness of one's own body and social censorship makes it difficult to talk openly about these issues . This means that many people who suffer from sexual discomfort do not communicate it for fear of being misunderstood and that they are classified as rare but it is essential to be able to speak it so that they try to find the most satisfactory solution for each individual.