In a study published earlier this year, it was found that a staggering 1 in 10 women experience sex as painful; a condition known as dyspareunia. Although dyspareunia is a common condition, treatment is still limited and often patients are left with unresolved issues. This is leading to an increased proportion of women avoiding intercourse altogether to avoid the pain and discomfort.
The study, conducted by Dr Kirstin Mitchell, also uncovered some insights into the associations to painful sex. Many woman who reported sex as painful also reported issues such as vaginal dryness, feeling anxious during sex and a lack of enjoyment. It was also linked to poor physical and mental health and includes adverse past experiences.
Dr Mitchell’s research has highlighted a need for a more holistic approach to treatment as many of the issues experienced by women are quite complex. But until more support and guidance is provided within the healthcare system, for many, a resolution doesn’t seem plausible.
However, there are things we can do to be more proactive in our treatment too; when speaking with medical practitioners we need to be more self-aware of the issues we’re experiencing. Outlining our medical histories that may offer insight, noting the commonalities into painful sex we can present our doctors with a more encompassing history of our experiences to better guide the direction of the treatment. Your say in what type of treatment is offered is also valued so it is worth being vocal about what you feel may be the cause and how it may be resolved; whether that is further examinations to review pelvic structure, physiotherapy and/or mental health support such as counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy, these are some of the treatments available to treat or at least begin to look into the experience of painful sex.