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Common Causes of Vaginal Pain



Common Causes of Vaginal Pain
Vaginal pain or lower pelvic pain could have a physical source, such as endometriosis, or an emotional source, such as the after-effects of rape. Find out what could be the source of your pain.
Vaginal pain or lower pelvic pain can occur for many reasons and under a variety of circumstances ó during sex, during menstruation, and while urinating. Though vaginal pain or discomfort can happen without sexual activity, it often occurs during intercourse, and the reasons for the vaginal pain are often sexually related. Vaginal pain and lower pelvic pain can result in , such as a low libido (sex drive) or an inability to achieve orgasm due to the discomfort.

Because there are so many possible causes of vaginal pain or pelvic pain and because treatment can vary widely, getting a specific diagnosis and the appropriate care can help you resolve the problem and make sex enjoyable again.

The Reasons Behind Vaginal Pain and Lower Pelvic Pain

"There are many causes for vaginal pain," says marriage and family therapist Isadora Alman, MFT (Masters of Family Therapy), a board-certified sexologist and a psychotherapist in private practice in Alameda, Calif. Causes include:

A hymen that hasn't been completely penetrated
Inflammation from sexually transmitted diseases
An acute infection like vaginitis
Other potential causes of vaginal pain and lower pelvic pain can include:

Vaginal dryness
Infections or other problems with the digestive system, especially the bowels or the bladder
Strains, sprains, or weakness of the back
Fibromyalgia, a chronic widespread pain syndrome
Cysts on the ovaries
An ectopic pregnancy
Fibroids
Endometriosis
These issues can cause vaginal pain when youíre not engaging in sex, but the thrusting movements of the penis during sex may make your vaginal pain considerably worse.

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Dyspareunia is the medical term for vaginal pain that occurs during intercourse. It can include lower pelvic pain, pain that extends further inside the pelvis, and external pain around the genitals. The types of vaginal pain experienced during sex or even after sexual intercourse include:

Cramping
A sharp, shooting pain
A painful, burning sensation
Vaginal pain isnít due only to physical problems. Sexual trauma or serious sexual problems within a relationship can lead to tensing of the vaginal muscles during sex, says Alman. And that can lead to painful intercourse as well.

Getting the Right Diagnosis and Treatment

A doctor can perform a pelvic exam to find out if abnormalities, infections, or other problems with the pelvis or vagina could be causing the pain. She may use a cotton swab to gently touch the genitals to identify any areas of pain. She'll also ask a lot of questions about how and when your vaginal pain and pelvic pain occur.

Some diagnostic tests may be performed, including:

Colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy to examine sections of the colon
Barium enema, which involves inserting a solution inside the rectum and taking X-rays to look for problems
CT (computed tomography) scan
MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan
Ultrasound of the pelvic organs
Cystoscopy, which uses a small camera to look at the urethra and bladder
Depending on the diagnosis, treatments for physical issues could include:

Pain medications, antibiotics, hormones, or antidepressants
Surgery to repair abnormalities
Physical therapy or heat therapy
Vaginal lubricants
Acupuncture
Biofeedback
If no physical cause of the vaginal pain or pelvic pain can be diagnosed, a sex therapist or couples counselor may be able to help you pinpoint an emotional cause thatís behind the pain. Counseling sessions can help to both diagnose and treat the problem through communication, relaxation, and talking openly about sex.

Most important, says Alman, is not to try to diagnose vaginal pain by yourself. See your doctor to rule out physical causes, and work with a therapist if you need to address any emotional issues.