Because of what I do, people often open up to me and people ask sex questions. Recently, (let’s call her) Norma complained to me that it hurt to have sex (official medical term is dyspareunia). Nothing hurts any other time, but definitely with sex, there is pain. How long has it been going on?
10 years?! Why did you not get help?
I thought it was just part of getting older. (She is in her late 50s) Besides I didn’t think there was anything we can do for it. So I just dealt with it. But now it’s getting worse that we have had to stop since I was in tears.
is a common condition and can actually happen at any age. It can be due to a multitude of factors from fibroids, STDs, vulvar issues or vulvodynia, vaginal dryness and atrophy, or muscles of the pelvic floor issues. An examination is necessary to rule out any life-threatening condition.
I told the patient to see her gynecologist to rule out any gynecologic pathology and if there is nothing they could find, and if she still has pain with sex, then I can certainly see her.
She was thankful that there could be a reason and a name to her condition. She was most relieved to find out that it was just “not in her head” and that it wasn’t because of her husband.
The lesson is that pain is never normal. Unfortunately there are cases where it can be the normal if this becomes a chronic pain condition. There are studies that show that if we can get to the patient soon after the pain starts (in this case — pelvic pain seen within a two-year onset) there is a greater chance of curing the patient compared to a patient who was seen after two years. So the second lesson is that the sooner you get your pain taken care of the better the chances that this gets cured.