Sex is supposed to be enjoyable. Sensual. Intimate. It is not supposed to hurt. But sometimes it does, for a variety of physical or emotional reasons. The most common cause of painful intercourse also called dyspareunia, is vaginal atrophy – dryness, reduced elasticity and sensitivity due to loss of estrogen. The discomfort can feel embarrassing as well as painful, leading you to avoid sexual intimacy altogether.
Vaginal pain is a common problem among menopausal and post-menopausal women, but it does not have to be a problem for you. Not any longer. With MonaLisa® Touch, we can help to restore your vaginal health so you can feel like your feminine self again.
Common Symptoms of Painful Intercourse
While some women feel noticeable discomfort, others feel a burning sensation or itching. For some, intercourse is truly painful. You may experience symptoms:
- Only during sexual penetration
- During any penetration (including inserting a tampon)
- During deep thrusting
- As a lingering, throbbing pain that can last several hours after intercourse
What Causes Painful Intercourse?
Estrogens are female hormones that support vaginal health. They stimulate secretion of lubricating fluid that also cleanses the vaginal canal as it passes through. Estrogen also helps reduce vaginal infections by maintaining a slightly acidic environment.
As women begin to enter and then go through menopause, natural estrogen production decreases. As a result, the vaginal area loses hydration and elasticity, and the vaginal walls weaken and become thinner. Without the naturally acidic environment, there is also increased risk of urinary tract or vaginal infections.
However, menopause isn’t the only reason women lose estrogen. Estrogen production can cease due to:
- Certain medications (such as antihistamines and some birth control pills)
- Surgical removal of the ovaries
- Breast cancer hormonal treatment
- Chemotherapy or pelvic radiation therapy
Painful intercourse can also be caused by inflammation due to an infection, and smoking can exacerbate vaginal symptoms because it reduces blood flow. For some women, the emotional stress of discomfort and embarrassment can make intercourse even more painful, further eroding self-confidence. Treatment can reverse this distressing cycle.
Treating Painful Intercourse
- Over-the-counter lubricants can provide temporary relief from symptoms. Some of these are intended for ongoing use, and others are formulated specifically for use during intercourse.
- Prescription medications that contain estrogen often come in the form of creams that can be applied to the vaginal area or inserted into the vagina to help restore moisture and tissue health over time. However, many women prefer not to take estrogen because it increases risk of stroke and heart attack, and it can be expensive. Also, women who are undergoing or have previously undergone certain cancer treatments cannot take hormones.
- Learning vaginal relaxation techniques can help decrease pain by relieving anxiety.
These options do work, but perhaps not as well as you would like. Plus, they are temporary, so you have to keep doing them in order to get results.
MonaLisa® Touch Is the Long-Lasting Alternative
Instead of treating symptoms, MonaLisa® Touch treats the cause of painful intercourse – vaginal atrophy. This is a non-invasive laser treatment that gently but effectively promotes rejuvenation of the vaginal area. In just three 5-minute treatment sessions, MonaLisa® Touch work inside the vagina and externally to restore natural hydration, tissue health, elasticity, and pH to pre-menopause levels.
Even more exciting is the fact that improved vaginal health helps diminish multiple other unwanted symptoms of menopause – issues such as vaginal dryness and itching, frequent or urgent urination, and urinary incontinence. The treatment is surprisingly simple, but our patients are overwhelmingly pleased with the results.