Dyspareunia is the medical term for pain during or after sexual intercourse, and in many cases dysparenia counselling in Luton and Dunstable may be recommended as treatment. Dyspareunia can occur in both men and women, but is more common in women. Studies estimate that around 9.3 percent of women suffer from it (although this is probably an underestimate), with the condition being more common in younger women (aged 20 to 29) than older women (aged 50 or over). If you’re experiencing pain during sex, finding out more about the condition can help you understand the possible causes and what can be done to manage and treat it.
Causes and Symptoms of Dyspareunia
Dyspareunia is a general way to describe the symptom of pain during or after intercourse, but the pain may manifest itself in different ways. If you’re experiencing pain at the opening of your vagina, it could be caused by different issues including thrush (or STIs like Chlamydia or genital herpes), the menopause, vaginismus (an involuntary tightening of the vaginal muscles), allergies or a lack of arousal. If the pain is deeper in the pelvis (often coinciding with thrusts during sex), it may be caused by pelvic inflammatory disease, muscle and tissue growths (called fibroids) near your vagina or cervix, endometriosis or irritable bowel syndrome. In men, the pain could be related to thrush or STIs, a tight foreskin, prostate inflammation or small tears in the foreskin.
Although dyspareunia often has a physical cause, the potential psychological causes of the issue are addressed in dyspareunia counselling. Psychological causes are often related to vaginismus, which can be caused by past rape or having suffered sexual abuse as a child, experience of painful medical examinations or conditions affecting the vagina in the past, discomfort with your partner or being brought up to think sex was something to be ashamed of or is always painful. In any case, when you experience pain during penetration or intercourse, you may learn to associate sex with pain, and the vagina may respond by constricting (as a protective measure) when penetration is attempted, thus exacerbating the problem. In this way, psychological factors can be a cause of the problem, but also may worsen dyspareunia with a physical cause.
If the condition is being exacerbated or possibly caused by psychological factors, dyspareunia counselling is usually suggested as treatment. What happens in counselling depends on the precise nature of the underlying issue, but generally speaking the goal is to identify the past experience or emotions leading to it and help you cope more effectively. The theory behind psychosexual counselling is that these underlying issues are the cause of the physical pain experienced (and other sexual issues), and therefore the dyspareunia can be rectified by addressing them. If the cause is primarily physical, medical treatment will be provided by your GP as needed, but in many cases there is at least a psychological component to the problem.
While addressing underlying psychological causes is important, much of dyspareunia counselling involves more practical advice to help minimise the problem. For example, in some cases simply increasing the length of foreplay (to ensure maximum arousal before penetration) or using lubricant can significantly reduce the pain experienced. Additionally, vaginal dilators – smooth cylinders of gradually increasing size – can be used alongside comfort-building exercises (in the privacy of your own home) to help you become accustomed to penetration and “train” the vaginal muscles not to tighten unnecessarily. A combination of practical and psychological support is the most effective approach to dyspareunia counselling.
Finding Dyspareunia Counselling
If you’re experiencing pain during or after sex, dyspareunia counselling in Luton and Dunstable can help you identify the root cause of the problem and overcome it. It’s worth visiting your GP to investigate potential physical causes, but it’s likely that the problem is at least being made worse by psychological factors, so psychosexual counselling is worth considering. If you want more information about dyspareunia, how counselling can help, or if you want to book a session, get in touch with us today for an informal chat! For more information about our costs for dyspareunia counselling services please see the about us page.