Female sexual disorders

The most common causes of female sexual disorders are outlined below:

Dyspareunia: Painful sexual intercourse

  • Dyspareunia is pain during sexual intercourse in women:
    • In primary dyspareunia, the pain appears from the first time you have sex.
    • In secondary dyspareunia, the pain happens when you have already been sexually active, and the cause is usually an infection.
  • The pain occurs during sex, either felt in the vagina or lower abdomen, and can be burning or cramping in nature.
  • The pain can even continue after sex has finished.
  • There are many causes of dyspareunia:


Vaginismus is when your vaginal muscles contract and tighten causing pain. Vaginismus prevents any penetration so that a penis cannot enter into your vagina without discomfort.

Primary vaginismus

Primary vaginismus is more common and happens from your first sexual experience. The pain can also appear during tampon insertion or gynaecological examination by your GP. Your genital organs are normal with normal anatomy. The cause of primary vaginismus is usually psychological in nature but it is not the woman's fault. Vaginismus can sometimes be linked with false sexual beliefs, perhaps from a strict upbringing

Secondary vaginismus

Secondary vaginismus can occur at any time of life and is not related to when you first have sex. It is thought to be a protective mechanism.

Possible causes include:
  • Sexual abuse
  • Psychological shock
  • A bad experience with a previous sexual partner
  • After gynaecological surgery

How to treat female sexual disorders?

Speaking about female sexual issues is the first step towards solving your concerns or problems. Your GP will be able to give you advice or refer to a specialist if required. Sex therapists or psychologists can help with vaginismus of psychological origin.

There are also other methods which can help vaginismus such as vaginal dilators - these can gradually let you relax and get to the sensation of having something inside your vagina. Specialists can assist you in identifying the cause behind your sexual concerns, and work together with you and your partner to overcome them over time.
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