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Does low sex drive make sex painful?

Charles J. Sophy, MD
Adolescent Medicine

Low sex drive doesn't necessarily cause sex to be painful, but painful sex may lead to a lower sex drive. Obviously, if sex is painful, you probably won't be as interested or excited about it. Because of this, conditions like menopause or other medical conditions that cause vaginal dryness or make sex painful in other ways may lower your sex drive. Also, low libido may not necessary cause physical pain, but it may be emotionally painful for you and your partner. If you're experiencing physical or emotional pain related to sex, talk to your doctor.

 

Lower sex drive does not directly make sex painful, but you are asking about two different symptoms that are related to each other.  Although sex drive can be decreased for many different reasons, some physical, some psychological, and some related to your relationship, low sex drive and painful sex for women are an indication that either her estrogen or her testosterone may be too low.  This happens naturally with age, especially after menopause. But it can also happen with use of hormonal birth control methods.  Since testosterone is responsible for both sexual desire as well as maintaining the woman's erectile tissue and allowing her to lubricate properly with sexual arousal, decreased levels of testosterone can severely impact a woman's drive and feeling during sex. If a woman is not properly lubricated during sex, either naturally or by using a lubricant, sex could be painful for her.
There are women who have pain related to impairments in their estrogen or testosterone levels, or for other reasons such as vaginismus (contraction of the muscles at the opening of the vagina), vestibulodynia, or certain infections.  Once a woman starts to experience pain on a regular basis, she begins to avoid sexual activity because she wants to avoid the pain.  Consequently, her desire will begin to drop as well. 

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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.