Sexual Pain/Dyspareunia

Painful sex is common, with 20.3% of women indicating they have experienced pain during sexual intercourse according to The Australian Study of Health and Relationships (2003). Unfortunately, for many people this can be a difficult topic to discuss and can lead to a delay in seeking assistance.

What is Dsypareunia?

Dyspareunia is the term used for pain experienced with/during sexual intercourse. This pain can occur before or during penetrative intercourse or be an ongoing pain experienced after intercourse has finished. Dyspareunia can be classified as either a superficial pain at the entrance to the vagina, or a deep pain felt within the pelvis, which is usually associated with thrusting.

What causes Dyspareunia?

The cause can often be multi-factorial, a few of the most common causes can include:

  • Vaginismus – involuntary spasm or tightening of the pelvic floor muscles
  • Vulvodynia – a chronic pain or irritation of the vulva
  • Decreased lubrication
  • Decreased arousal or arousal disorders
  • History of infection such as UTI’s or thrush
  • History of trauma
  • Psychological components such as depression or anxiety

Management of Dyspareunia – How Can Physiotherapy Help?

A multidisciplinary and holistic approach including your GP, a gynaecologist, a psychologist and even a sex therapist may be involved to address the factors contributing to Dyspareunia. Physiotherapy also plays an important role in the management of sexual pain and may involve the following:

  • Management of tight/painful muscles – normalising pelvic floor muscle tone and function
  • Education on pelvic floor muscles, pelvic anatomy and function
  • Advice regarding positioning, arousal and lubrication
  • Assistance with addressing contributing lifestyle factors.

It begins with a 60 minute consultation with an experienced women’s health physiotherapist. This time includes a detailed assessment to help facilitate your ongoing management.

We understand clients may be hesitant in seeking help for this condition, many aren’t even aware they have a problem or that it can be improved. Many also feel a sense or nervousness, or embarrassment when approaching the subject.

If you do experience pain with sexual intercourse and are unsettled by the thought of seeking help, please remember these points:

  • There is help available
  • Dyspareunia is common – you are not alone
  • There is nothing to be embarrassed about
  • We see women of all ages for this condition.

If any of the above rings true for you, please reach out to our friendly team – 9822 4999 (Armadale) 9486 0512 (East Melbourne). Alternatively, you can also book online here or email us on

If you would like to hear a bit more about Dyspareunia, the following podcast is a fantastic listen and speaks with women who have experienced pain with sex: ‘Ladies We Need to Talk’ Podcast

Lauren Cairns
Senior Physiotherapist

Consulting at our East Melbourne practice

Reference: Australian Study of Health and Relationships, The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, Volume 27, Number 2, April 2003. 

Sign up to catch the latest from the Beyond Team
Looking to Book an Appointment?

Beyond is here to help you Move through life! Booking an appointment online is the most convenient way to lock in the location, practitioner & time you want.