Pain with intercourse is common in older women. At first it may be a problem just once in a while, but it can become a more frequent and serious problem. You might like and want to have sex but avoid it because it hurts.
The medical term for painful sex is dyspareunia.
You may feel pain at the opening of your vagina or in the vulva, which is the area around the vaginal opening. Even a gentle touch in this area may cause pain.
A number of different things can cause pain during sex. Some of the physical causes of pain during sex are:
Many older women are faced with circumstances that affect their sexual response and may make sex more painful, such as:
Your healthcare provider will ask about the pain. You may have a pelvic exam and tests to look for infection or other problems.
Treatment depends on the cause of the pain.
Your healthcare provider may recommend use of a vaginal lubricant. The lubricant can prevent the pain caused by lack of vaginal moisture during sex. You and your partner can use a lubricant in a way that makes it a part of lovemaking. Lubricants can be purchased at a drugstore. Ask your provider what product might be best for you. Benefits of using a lubricant are:
You can use hormone medicine to replace some of the estrogen hormone that decreases after menopause. Hormone therapy may reduce or get rid of the symptoms of menopause that cause painful sex, such as vaginal dryness. There are some risks with hormone therapy. For example, it may increase your chances of getting some forms of cancer or heart disease. Discuss the benefits and risks of hormone therapy with your healthcare provider.
If the reason for painful sex is psychological, ask your healthcare provider to refer you to a psychologist, sex therapist, or other counselor for help.