Question

Sex and Relationships

What can cause a burning sensation during or after intercourse?

A Answers (1)

  • AAnthony Komaroff, MD, Internal Medicine, answered
    Discomfort during or after intercourse is called dyspareunia. Conditions of both the genital and urinary tracts can cause it. The symptoms often mimic a bladder infection.

    Other sexual pain disorders that cause dyspareunia include:
    • Urogenital atrophy. A condition caused by decreased estrogen levels. It is often seen in menopause, but also occurs in pregnancy, with breast-feeding, and sometimes with the use of oral contraceptives. Estrogen loss causes the vagina and urethra to become thin, dry, and hypersensitive.
    • Painful bladder syndrome (interstitial cystitis). The cause of this condition is unknown, but symptoms can flare with intercourse.
    • Urethral diverticulum. A small pouch that forms on the urethra can trap urine. This causes painful swelling near the opening of the vagina.
    • Allergy. The genital tissues are sensitive and many environmental agents can cause irritation. Some women are allergic to certain condoms and lubricating jellies.
    • Vulvodynia. This is a painful condition of the tissues just outside the vagina. This may sometimes result from a nerve disorder in which false signals of pain are sent to the brain in response to simple touch.
    • Vaginismus. Painful, involuntary spasms of the pelvic floor muscles
    You need a thorough evaluation by your doctor to find the cause of your symptoms. Effective treatments are usually available to relieve dyspareunia, but choosing the best approach depends on your specific diagnosis.
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