The word ” dyspareunia ” comes from Greek, dys- ” bad ” and pareunos ” bedfellow “, meaning “badly mated “.(1)
The psychologic theory treats dyspareunia as a symbol of unconscious conflict, stemming from phobia, hostility, or sexual aversions.(2)
How Common Is Dyspareunia Or Is It A Rare Disease?
Dyspareunia is a medical term used for denoting pain in association with sexual intercourse. There are many different definitions which have been proposed and are practiced in different areas. The most common of them are experiencing the feeling of pain while having sexual intercourse or after sexual intercourse is over. The duration for pain after sexual intercourse is completed has not been specified in any definition. It can range from a few minutes to many hours.
Due to a variety of etiologies that can cause dyspareunia, not much research is available which can pinpoint the cause. Also being a sensitive and private issue, many women try to avoid the questions and do not participate in the studies conducted. Dyspareunia can be diagnosed easily by thorough history taking and examination but since the questions asked by the doctor usually causes embarrassment to the patient, it has been observed that a large number of patients try to avoid such questions and the condition remains underdiagnosed. It could also be the cause of improper data collection on this condition and a major factor for lower prevalence in Asian and Gulf countries where the culture is not so developed.
Dyspareunia is a pretty common symptom experienced by females all over the world and it can be supported by the evidence of a study conducted globally which showed the prevalence of dyspareunia at about 8 to 22 %.(1) According to a study conducted in the US, it is found that the prevalence of dyspareunia was about 7 % in all females. If the study was limited to only sexually active women then the prevalence rose to a whopping 46 %.
Similarly, the prevalence of dyspareunia in postpartum females was about 45 % of which 6 % experienced focal pain at the site of a postpartum tear but the other 39 % of females experienced non-focal pain (which cannot be pinpointed). The prevalence was somewhat less when compared to the females who underwent a cesarean section and was about 30 %. Lactating women were experiencing more episodes of dyspareunia and the prevalence sat at 41%.(2)
In most cases, dyspareunia was first encountered during first sexual intercourse and the pain gradually disappeared. Postpartum dyspareunia also resolved automatically without any medical treatment but took a longer interval of time and the median duration of the resolution was about 5 and a half months. However, tenderness on palpation persisted for a bit longer for about 1 year.
According to all the data available on this condition, it can be safely concluded that it is a very common condition and practically more than half of the females experience some kind of symptoms related to it in the lifetime at some point. A careful history taking and examination is very important to rule out pathological processes ongoing in the body. A psychological examination is also so very much important in this condition because it can be caused by a variety of psychological factors. Psychological causation can be ruled out by asking questions like is the pain experienced pleasurable or uncomfortable?
It can be caused by several etiologies so it is very much necessary to consult the relevant doctor as soon as such symptoms are experienced by you or your partner because it may not be a simple pain condition and there may be some dangerous underlying etiology fanning out in the body.