Painful Sex Is a Real Medical Condition, But Doctors Often Miss, Dismiss It
[The Swaddle, 2/22/19] “…What should be the most amazing feeling, a lot of the time isn’t. When it hurts, it’s like a glass shattering inside you. Embedding itself. Sharp. The more you try to get it out, the more it hurts. And then it’s not just the sex in itself that’s painful, it’s the after pain. The cramping. And they can last up to two days. Sometimes it’s twisted like someone is wringing out a dish cloth. And it’s miserable. It’s so miserable.”
In filmmaker Sindha Agha’s Painful Sex, a series of visual essays for BBC Three, a woman recounts the above as her typical sexual experience. Agha, who also experiences pain during intercourse, earlier told The Atlantic, “It took me nearly 15 years of going doctor to doctor to finally receive adequate treatment. It’s absurd that most people have never heard of a condition that one in 10 women have.”
Although Agha, and the woman she featured, eventually discovered that their habitual pain during sex was due to severe endometriosis, — a condition in which the tissue that makes up the uterine lining spreads outside the uterus onto other organs; it is said to be the one of the largest contributing factors to painful intercourse — they both say the diagnosis came through only after doctors dismissed and misdiagnosed their pain many times over.
Painful sex — also known in medical terms as dyspareunia — is a real, but commonly neglected female health problem, doctors say. According to National Center for Biotechnology Information, a US-based library of medicine, about 3 percent to 18 percent of women suffer from it, worldwide.
It is defined as a condition where women experience recurrent or persistent discomfort before, during, or after intercourse. It can either be superficial — pain localized to the vulva or vaginal entrance — or deep, with pain felt inside the vagina or lower pelvis, generally caused by deep penetration.
Dyspareunia can also be primary or secondary. While primary dyspareunia occurs at initial intercourse, secondary dyspareunia occurs after some time of pain-free intercourse…………
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Jaelin Stickels, CNM, WHNP