It is estimated that worldwide, approximately 15% of all women regularly experience intermittent to life-long sexual pain. The condition is sometimes referred to as being, “Vulvodynia” - mild to extremely severe genital pain. Vulvodynia is usually influenced by a number of factors, and can be difficult and complex to treat.

Whilst numerous treatment options now mean that such suffering need not be indefinite, far too often, many doctors may not know enough to be able to diagnose the condition properly, thereby leaving many women to suffer indefinitely.

Sexual pain is usually very complex and can be caused by a physical/medical issue, a psychological problem or both. Medical issues such as an infection or a dermatological condition may cause pain. Psychological causes tend to be more complicated and can be linked to a woman’s cultural and/or religious upbringing as well as negative past traumatic sexual experiences.

Symptoms can range in severity, can come and go and often don’t have a clear or obvious cause. It can take on many different forms (ranging from burning sensations, through to extremely sharp pain) that can surface before, during and/or following sex.

Whilst such pain can often start within what is considered to be of a physical source, Vulvodynia can often become worse over time as women become more and more sexually fearful, anxious, and sexually avoidant.

Pain may range from mild and only in certain situations to situational severe and constant. Pain can be experienced as a result of light touch, pressure, insertion or in extreme cases simply the thought or anticipation of being touched.

Once a woman experiences sexual pain it often results in the involuntary tightening or spasm of vaginal and pelvic floor muscles which makes sex uncomfortable – or for some women even impossible. Worse still, many doctors may not know enough to diagnose it properly leaving many women to suffer indefinitely.

Painful sex is also a huge problem for couples and can be extremely detrimental towards maintaining intimate relationships.

Beyond the physical pain, these disorders can be extremely distressing. Women often become anxious and fearful of the pain which causes them to avoid penetrative intercourse – and in some cases sexual activity altogether. Women with these disorders tend to report lower levels of sexual desire and sexual frequency, and inability to reach orgasm.

Partners of women with these conditions often blame themselves as being responsible for inflicting sexual pain and experience guilt. This may in turn lead partners to be less inclined to initiate or reciprocate sexual activity and have lower levels of sexual satisfaction.

If left untreated, sexual pain can lead to decreased overall levels of sexual satisfaction and relationship distress/breakdown.

So what can a FemTherapy Clinic sex therapist do to help alleviate painful sex?

The good news is FemTherapy Clinic sex therapists and psychologists have extensive experience in delivering various psychological and sexual health therapies that can be used to alleviate numerous forms of Vulvodynia (including Vaginismus and Dyspareunia). Our aim is to help you achieve substantially lessen painful sex and provide for the resumption of pleasurable sexual activities. We have numerous treatment plans that cover areas such as progressive muscle relaxation, stress management, and pain relapse prevention. We also work with couples teaching them various sexual practices and techniques that can enhance pleasure and intimacy, without pain.

Return to Top