In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan.


Painful sexual intercourse is a common female health problem. In medical terminology, it is called dyspareunia. It is a complex disorder that often goes neglected. The prevalence of dyspareunia varies from 3 to 18% worldwide, and it can affect 10 to 28% of the population in a lifetime. dyspareunia can be further categorized into superficial or deep, and primary or secondary. Superficial dyspareunia is limited to the vulva or vaginal entrance, while deep dyspareunia means the extension of pain into the deeper parts of the vagina or lower pelvis. Deep dyspareunia is frequently associated with deep penetration. Primary dyspareunia pain initiates at the start of sexual intercourse, while in secondary dyspareunia, pain begins after some time of pain-free sexual activity.

Dyspareunia is sometimes intermixed with vulvodynia, a genital pain that lasts more than three months with or without the association of sexual intercourse. Dyspareunia can also lead to sexual difficulties, such as lack of sexual desire and arousal, and can cause trouble in sexual relationships. It can have a significant impact on physical as well as mental health. It can lead to depression, anxiety, hypervigilance to pain, negative body image, and low self-esteem. So prompt management is crucial to address this disorder.

In this review, we will focus on the etiology, epidemiology, evaluation, management, and prognosis of dyspareunia.

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