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Sexual Pain and Menopause

What are pain disorders during intercourse?

Pain disorders are sexual dysfunctions in women, which typically significantly impact the couple’s love life. They usually include vaginismus and dyspareunia.

Although these disorders differ, they are often challenging to distinguish. Vaginismus is a dysfunction in which the vagina involuntarily contracts and closes during penetration, preventing penetration despite the woman’s desire.

Due to women’s reluctance to seek help, there are insufficient statistics on the frequency of the problem. However, it is estimated that approximately 2% of marriages face this issue, leading to strained relationships.

During dyspareunia, a woman experiences pain during attempted vaginal penetration. The incidence of dyspareunia is estimated at 12%-15% of sexually active women. This percentage increases to 45.3% during menopause.

Does Menopause Cause Sexual Pain?

While dyspareunia occurring during menopause is often attributed to declining estrogen levels and vaginal atrophy, modern data present a more multidimensional view of the problem.

According to data from a study of 182 menopausal women experiencing dyspareunia, hormone levels were found to be unable to predict dyspareunia. However, depressive symptoms, anxiety, and the quality of relationships were strongly associated with the occurrence of the problem.

In other words, it is confirmed that pain disorders must be investigated through a lens that considers not only biological but also mental factors. However, while modern sexual medicine and sexology offer effective ways to address these problems, lack of information often inhibits seeking treatment.

Reference: Kao A, Binik YM, Amsel R et al. (2012) Biopsychosocial predictors of postmenopausal dyspareunia: the role of steroid hormones, vulvovaginal atrophy, cognitive-emotional factors, and dyadic adjustment. J Sex Med 9:2066-2076.


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