Pain During Sex

Nearly 3 out of 4 women feel pain during intercourse at some time during their lives. It can be temporary or long-term.

Painful sex may be a sign of a gynecologic problem, such as ovarian cysts or endometriosis, or may be caused by problems with sexual response, which include your level of desire or your level of physical or emotional arousal.

If you have frequent or severe pain during sex, you should see a health care provider to determine whether gynecologic conditions are the cause. A pelvic exam or ultrasound exam often tells us about the causes of some kinds of pain. Further evaluation, sometimes involving a laparoscopy, may be needed.

You may also ask about medications that you are taking, whether you have any medical conditions, and past events that may affect how you feel about sex, such as sexual abuse. Many women come to us with their sexual problems because they trust us to listen and understand.


Cyst: A sac or pouch filled with fluid or other material.
Endometriosis: A condition in which tissue similar to that normally lining the uterus is found outside of the uterus, usually on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and other pelvic structures.
Pelvic Exam: A manual examination of a woman’s reproductive organs.
Ultrasound: A test in which sound waves are used to examine internal structures.