Dyspareunia (painful sex) is pain that is persistent and recurring before, during, or after sexual
intercourse and it can happen to anyone at any age.
What Causes Dyspareunia?
There are a number of different causes that may lead to dyspareunia some include:
- Injury to the pelvic floor from things like childbirth, post-surgical conditions, pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, scar adhesions.
- Musculoskeletal dysfunction, where the pelvic floor muscles become overactive
and don’t fully relax, they may also contract when they should be relaxing.
- Psychosocial factors: stress, depression, anxiety, sexual or physical abuse.
How Can Physiotherapy Help?
The goal of physiotherapy in treating dyspareunia is to:
- Reduce vaginal pain by reducing the overactive pelvic floor musculature.
- Improve patient awareness and ability to control these muscles.
- Improve the ability of the vaginal tissues to stretch.
- Teach appropriate techniques for penetration.
What are the physiotherapy interventions to treat dyspareunia?
- Education: by helping to describe the role of the pelvic floor musculature in the
pain cycle and provide techniques that can be used in the home environment.
- Manual therapy: to mobilise muscle and soft tissue, normalize overactive
muscles, improve circulation and desensitize areas.
- Exercise: with the focus of relaxation through the pelvic floor.
- Biofeedback and Electrical stimulation: assists in reducing overactive muscles.