Does Sex Therapy Help Painful Sex?

Updated: Jul 5

A distressed woman sits on the side of her bed after painful sex

Here's how and why sex therapy can be an option for painful sex

Key takeaways:

  • Painful sex (dyspareunia) can affect both men and women but is much more common in women.

  • There are two types of dyspareunia, known as entry pain and deep pain.

  • In men, painful sex typically only occurs when something is wrong, such as an infection or a tight foreskin.

  • There are many potential causes of painful sex, including medical conditions, insufficient lubrication, or psychological causes.

  • Seeing a sex therapist can help with painful sex.

Painful sex can be an isolating experience that brings up many emotions. You might feel anxious, sad, angry, depressed, and alone, like no one – including your partner – understands what you’re going through.

It’s important to know you aren’t alone, though. Painful sex can affect both men and women but is much more common in women. In fact, approximately 75% of women will have pain during sex at some point in their lifetime.

Dyspareunia: What is it?

The clinical term for painful sex is dyspareunia. It refers to persistent pain that is felt either pre, post, or during sex. Pain can be felt in multiple areas that include:

  • The genital region

  • The vulvar region

  • Anywhere in the labia (vagina lips) or at the opening of the vagina

  • Internal pain may also occur in the uterus, cervix, or lower abdomen

Besides the physical pain, emotional pain can be involved, especially if the relationship starts to suffer a loss of intimacy or becomes strained because of the disruption to sex lives.

Types of dyspareunia

There are two different types of dyspareunia. Where your pain is felt can help determine which type you’re experiencing. The tw