The results of a recent study have shown that a sizeable minority, almost 1 in 10 of women in the UK, experience pain during sex. The findings, from the third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal-3), are significant because they come from the largest scientific study of sexual health lifestyles in the UK.

The survey, which was carried out by London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, University College London and NatCen Social Research, involved asking 8,869 women aged between 16-74 from 2010 to 2012 using computer-assisted self-interviews.

The results showed that 7.5% of women have experienced pain during sex, with nearly 2% experiencing ‘morbid pain’ i.e. symptoms that last for 6 months, re-occur, and cause real distress.

The age groups that reported the most pain were 55-64 year olds (10.4%), and 16-24 (9.5%). It is also interesting to note that, of the more than 1700 women who had not been sexually active in the past year, 2.05% said they’d been avoiding intercourse because they’d experienced painful sex, and feared doing so again.

What’s Happening?

This kind of pain is grouped under the name dyspareunia, and there can be many different factors and causes. My approach to treatment is a holistic one, and as many physicians agree, this is often a more effective way of providing and effective treatment, because it takes into account the health, sexual and relationship factors. For example, reports of the experience of pain can even have some of their origins in factors like attitudes towards sex, dissatisfaction with sex, anxiety, and sexual relationship factors.

The results of this study are likely to be showing painful sexual experiences for many 16-24 year olds because the first sexual experience is often a painful one for many women, and this is a fact tends not to be highlighted sufficiently e.g. in sex education.

The results of this survey also highlight the fact that, for many older women, post-menopausal sex can be painful. This could be as a result of vaginal dryness, and other factors.

Getting Help

I offer the full range of office gynaecology services, including rapid sexual health screening, fertility management, help with polycystic, and more. I can carry out assessments for pelvic pain, and for heavy menstrual bleeding. I offer a humane and holistic approach to gynaecological practice. I offer a full range of Outpatient Services, including a Well Woman check-up. This includes full history and examination, assessment of ultrasound scan, cervical smear and Ca 125 screening. It is also a good opportunity to discuss and highlight the likely causes of e.g. pain during sex.

Pelvic Pain?

I have developed a specialist interest in pelvic pain and in particular severe endometriosis. For more information, contact me via the contact page here or ring my personal assistant on 0208 371 150.

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