Dyspareunia is a symptom of genital pain associated with sexual intercourse in women. It is usually diagnosed based on the symptoms and vaginal inspection. Diet plays an important role in managing dyspareunia, but it cannot cure it. There are certain foods to avoid while some foods help keep dyspareunia under control.(1)
Dyspareunia is a symptom of genital pain associated with sexual intercourse in women. Causes include past sexual trauma, anatomical issues, trauma experiences related to pregnancy, abortion, childbirth, and pain experienced at certain times. Some infections or menopause may also trigger the symptoms.(1)
What To Eat & Avoid If You Have Dyspareunia?
Studies have suggested that omega-3 fatty acids and fresh vegetables can prevent dyspareunia symptoms. On the other hand, women who love to have more coffee, trans-fats, or red meat have more pronounced dyspareunia symptoms. There are, however, disparities in the results within different studies, calling for more future research on this area.
Eating a balanced and healthy diet not only helps in the management of dyspareunia symptoms but may also prevent it from developing. So, it is better to keep more fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. It is not easy to prevent dyspareunia but by maintaining a healthy lifestyle with a proper diet you can control its symptoms and severity.
It is also advisable to avoid substances that change the level of estrogen. These include caffeine (coffee, tea) and alcohol. You should also remember that lifestyle changes or changing your dietary habits cannot completely cure dyspareunia. It can only help manage your symptoms better or decrease the severity of the disease. A proper medical consultation and treatment procedures should be followed. Overall, decrease the consumption of foods and chemicals that may trigger inflammatory responses.
Over time, you may find several foods and behavior that may trigger your symptoms and they will be able to control the symptoms by avoiding these foods and activities.
A person with endometriosis may benefit from eating plenty of fruits, veggies & whole grains. Plant-based proteins, lean meats, and healthful fats may also help.(5) Many women found that keeping salmon, fatty fish, olives, olive oil, nuts, and avocado in their diet helped manage the condition. Although there is no direct link between the gluten-free diet and dyspareunia, research suggests that having a gluten-free diet may reduce the symptoms of dyspareunia.
Therefore, you may also try a gluten-free diet to see the outcome even if you do not have any symptoms of celiac disease or gluten intolerance.(3) (4)
Common Symptoms Of Dyspareunia
Dyspareunia may have the following symptoms:
- Pain during penetration or sexual entry
- Pain during every sexual intercourse (penetration)
- Pain not during penetration, but the intercourse (thrusting)
- An aching or burning sensation during sexual intercourse
- Pain that persists for hours after intercourse (throbbing pain)(1) (2)
How Is Dyspareunia Diagnosed?
The doctor will ask you about the pain, such as where it hurts and when it started. In some cases, you may also be asked about what you have tried in the past (for example, did you try lotions or long foreplays, does it hurt each time you have sex, are there any other illnesses that involve sex, etc.).
- During the examination, a cotton swab may be used to check whether the vaginal area is painful.
- The vagina and cervix are gently examined by a vaginal speculum, but some women feel pain. In that case, a small vaginal speculum may be used or the test may be postponed until the pain is reduced.
- At the final stage of the examination, the uterus and ovaries are palpated with one hand on the abdomen and a finger inserted in the vagina.
- If the test is too painful, it is important to tell your doctor. Please consult your doctor in advance.
If symptoms and tests indicate a possible illness, yeast and bacteria tests may be performed, and if not, urine and allergy tests may be performed.(1)
- Lee NM, Jakes AD, Lloyd J, Frodsham LC. Dyspareunia. Bmj. 2018;361:k2341.
- Rosen NO, Pukall C. Comparing the prevalence, risk factors, and repercussions of postpartum genito-pelvic pain and dyspareunia. Sexual medicine reviews. 2016;4(2):126-135.
- Porpora MG, Picarelli A, Porta RP, Di Tola M, D’Elia C, Cosmi EV. Celiac disease as a cause of chronic pelvic pain, dysmenorrhea, and deep dyspareunia. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2002;99(5):937-939.
- Marziali M, Venza M, Lazzaro S, Lazzaro A, Micossi C, Stolfi V. Gluten-free diet: a new strategy for management of painful endometriosis related symptoms? Minerva chirurgica. 2012;67(6):499-504.
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