Pelvic floor physical therapy is one of the many specialties offered at SPEAR, and can help address a multitude of conditions, including Dyspareunia, a condition where the person experiences persistent or recurrent genital pain that occurs just before, during, or after intercourse. There are many home “remedies”, like warm baths or drinking wine. While some of these techniques may allow sex to be a little more tolerable, they don’t address the root cause of the problem. Painful sex can occur for several reasons, many of which can be addressed with pelvic floor physical therapy. The pelvic floor muscles are the muscles within the pelvis and play a big role in sexual function.
What is Dyspareunia?
Painful sex, also known as dyspareunia, is the complaint of persistent or recurrent pain or discomfort associated with attempted or complete vaginal penetration, usually in reference to sexual activity. Dyspareunia can be superficial (discomfort on initial vaginal entry), deep (discomfort on deeper penetration), or both. Pain is typically localized to the vagina or lower pelvis and occurs in the absence of other pathology.
Causes of Dyspareunia
Causes of dyspareunia can include:
- Vaginal dryness
- Skin diseases involving the vulva
- Vaginismus (muscle spasms of the pelvic floor)
- Emotional stress/trauma
- Pelvic organ prolapse
- Endometriosis or other pelvic organ pathology
Treatment for Dyspareunia
The treatment and management of dyspareunia is based on the cause of the dysfunction. If the cause is pelvic floor muscular dysfunction, physical therapy is one of the first lines of treatment. Physical therapy treatments may include:
- Behavioral modification
- Manual therapy techniques
- Patient education
- Pelvic floor muscle re-education
- Relaxation techniques
Some adjunct techniques that also help to treat dyspareunia are:
- Meditation and breathing techniques
- Use of dilators or wand for tight muscles
- Sex therapy or other talk therapy
- Education of partner if applicable
Dyspareunia is a commonly diagnosed but rarely discussed. Patients often feel embarrassment, shame or helplessness, but pelvic floor physical therapy has been shown to be effective in the management of dyspareunia.
If you suffer from painful sex or are interested in learning more about dyspareunia, come see a pelvic floor physical therapist at SPEAR today.