Definition of Dyspareunia

Dyspareunia is defined as recurrent or persistent genital pain associated with sexual intercourse that is not caused exclusively by vaginismus or lack of lubrication.

Dyspareunia can be divided into three types of pain:

  1. Superficial Dyspareunia occurs with attempted penetration, usually secondary to anatomic conditions, or vaginismus.
  2. Vaginal Dyspareunia is pain related to friction (i.e., lubrication problems), including arousal disorders.
  3. Deep Dyspareunia is pain related to thrusting, often associated with pelvic disease. Treatment of the underlying etiology is fundamental, but as in long-term pain disorders, counselling and pain control strategies are essential.

Prevalence of Dyspareunia

DyspareuniaThe prevalence of dyspareunia in women has been estimated at approximately 14%, with significant variations across the lifespan. The highest prevalence is found in women 18-24 years of age.

Pain with intercourse can occur in men but is relatively rare, with an estimated prevalence rate of 3%. Higher rates have been reported in men who engage in receptive anal intercourse.  Overall, dyspareunia is considered primarily a female sexual dysfunction.


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