What can cause a woman to experience pain during sex?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

Among other things, painful sex may be caused by:

  • A "tipped" uterus: In most women, the uterus is tipped toward the front, positioning the cervix at a deeper part of the birth canal. But for some women the uterus is tipped backward (which causes no health problems or other repercussions, it's just an anatomical variation like being left-handed) and positions the cervix closer to the opening of the vagina. During deep penetration, the penis can bump into the cervix causing serious pain. A uterus can also become retroverted after childbirth.
  • Endometriosis: The lining of the uterus grows beyond the interior of the uterus.
  • Interstitial cystitis: A little understood condition in which there is pain surrounding the bladder or with urination.
  • Urethritis: An inflammation of the urethra caused by a number of different factors.
  • Vaginusmus: An involuntary spasm of vaginal wall muscles that can make penetration painful.
  • Vestibulitis: Unexplained stinging or burning around the opening of the vagina.
  • Loss of lubrication: Especially after menopause when declining estrogen levels thin the lining of the vagina, creating greater friction and pain during sex. Medications, including birth control pills, antidepressants, sedatives, and antihistamines can also decrease lubrication.

This content originally appeared on

Continue Learning about Sex and Relationships

Top 10 Most Dangerous Condom Mistakes
Top 10 Most Dangerous Condom Mistakes
It's not enough to just use condoms. You have to use them correctly! But as many as three out of four people don't. That's because a lot of us have a...
Read More
What is the best way to get out of a sex rut?
Hilda Y. Hutcherson, MDHilda Y. Hutcherson, MD
Once you’re in a sex rut, it can be tricky to get out. A useful piece of advice: Just do it. Are you...
More Answers
10 Best Cities for Sex
10 Best Cities for Sex10 Best Cities for Sex10 Best Cities for Sex10 Best Cities for Sex
Find out where men and women are really satisfied.
Start Slideshow
What Is a Relaxed Vagina?
What Is a Relaxed Vagina?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.