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Is Pain During Sex a Sign of STDs?

Sex should be pleasurable and enjoyable for all parties involved, but it’s not uncommon for individuals, especially women, to experience pain during intercourse. It’s natural to jump to conclusions about STDs the first time you experience pain during sex. Unfortunately, you might feel pain or discomfort during sex for a number of reasons. 

At Rapid STD Testing, we know that it can be stressful if you believe you could have an STD. Further, pain during sex can cause frustration and fear. Read on as we discuss possible causes for painful intercourse and what you should do if you think you have an STD.

What Is Dyspareunia?

Several STDs can cause an individual to experience painful sex. Dyspareunia refers to any discomfort in the labia, vagina, or pelvis associated with sexual intercourse. 

People with vaginas sometimes experience some level of discomfort during their first sexual encounter. Symptoms usually include severe internal pain, cramps, tightness of the pelvic muscles, and contractions. However, dyspareunia typically extends beyond the first time. 

Types of Dyspareunia  

  • Complete Dyspareunia — If a person has experienced vaginal pain throughout their sexual history, they may have complete dyspareunia. With this condition, an individual will typically experience discomfort for the full duration of intercourse, especially with initial penetration.
  • Situational Dyspareunia — This type of dyspareunia can emerge suddenly, with no prior symptoms, making sex painful when it had not generally hurt before. Situational dyspareunia often leads to discovering STDs or other serious conditions, like endometriosis or uterine prolapse.
  • Psychological Dyspareunia — When vaginal and pelvic pain during sex has no apparent physiological source or cause, doctors may refer to that pain as psychological dyspareunia. 

If you experience pain during penetration of any kind, deep pain from thrusting, a sustained burning pain or ache, or pain that lasts long after sexual activity has stopped, you may have dyspareunia. The three types range in severity, but it’s always a good idea to see your doctor or get tested for STDs if you experience frequent painful sex.

Does Pain During Sex Mean I Have an STD?

Pain during or after sex can be an indicator for a number of sexually transmitted diseases or other serious conditions. While not all pain during or after sex is cause for alarm, you never want to ignore signals from your body. While talking about sex with a medical professional can be intimidating, it is always worth it. 

Be sure to get screening if you experience any kind of pain in the genital areas or throughout your pelvic region during or after sex. A screening can help you catch and treat a variety of STDs before they have long-term effects on your body. 

STDs That Cause Pain During Intercourse

Chlamydia

While you should take all STDs seriously, chlamydia is one of the most dangerous to leave untreated. People of all genders can contract chlamydia, though your symptoms may differ based on your sex. 

Pain during sexual intercourse or urination can be a sign of chlamydia. Other common symptoms of chlamydia include unusual discharge from the vagina or penis and painful swelling of genital areas. Check out our guide for what STD discharges look like for more information. 

If you ignore the early symptoms of chlamydia, the STD could do long-term damage to your sexual organs, which can include prolonged abdominal pain, fever and nausea, bleeding between periods, and consistent sexual pain.

Herpes

Herpes typically presents as painful blisters or sores. These sores can cause a stinging, burning sensation during sexual intercourse or urination that can quickly become unbearable. Though herpes is a skin condition, blisters can appear on the vulva and within the vagina. 

Herpes can spread to the cervix and cause serious vaginal infections such as cervicitis. Sores can appear in the genital area or around the mouth, and you can transmit herpes during penetrative intercourse or oral sex.

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is a bacterial STD that can cause significant pain for the infected person. Common symptoms associated with this STD include:

  • Pain during sex or urination.
  • Dark or discolored discharge.
  • Difficulty with bowel movements.
  • Bleeding between periods.

Pain during sex often appears later in gonorrhea infections, possibly indicating that the infection has caused pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

Trichomoniasis

Commonly referred to as trich, trichomoniasis affects over 4 million people in the U.S. every year. Trich can sometimes go untreated for longer than many other STDs since many people don’t experience symptoms right away. 

When a person experiences trich symptoms, they often present as painful itching and burning sensations and redness, swelling, or soreness around the genitals. For men, pain may arise following ejaculation. The itchy, burning sensation can often make individuals assume they have a UTI. 

Getting tested at Rapid STD Testing can help you seek the best and most appropriate treatments for your needs.

Genital Warts

One of the most common STIs, genital warts are a symptom of human papillomavirus (HPV). Generally, they appear as small bumps with little to no color difference from your natural skin tone. While typically not threatening, they can cause pain and discomfort during sex. 

These warts often tend to become painful during times of high friction — such as sex. If you irritate warts enough, they can also bleed. You can also risk passing genital warts to your sexual partners through penetrative and oral sex. 

We advise getting screened for HPV, as it can be easily transmitted. People with HPV are at higher risk for cancers affecting sexual organs as well as the mouth and throat.

Molluscum Contagiosum

Molluscum Contagiosum is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a pox virus that causes small bumps or lesions that can be pink, white, or blend in with your skin tone. 

Bumps from molluscum contagiosum are typically smooth and hard. They usually heal independently, but it could take up to four years for the bumps or marks to go away entirely.

Non-STD Causes of Dyspareunia

While STDs can cause you to experience dyspareunia, not all painful sex is STD-related. Other potential causes for pain during intercourse include: 

  • Low Lubrication — Anything from a lack of or minimal amount of foreplay to certain medications can cause vaginal dryness. This dryness can cause sustained entry pain. Body-safe lubricants can decrease or eliminate sexual pain. Check out our guide on sex toys and STDs.
  • Low Estrogen Levels — Individuals who have gone through menopause or are on hormone replacement therapy may experience lower estrogen levels. Either can cause the vaginal lining to thin and become less flexible, leading to entry pain during sex.
  • Vaginismus — Some people experience painful spasms in their vaginas with penetration.
  • Prior Injuries — Pelvic or vaginal injuries can cause pain even after healing.
  • Chronic Illnesses or Medical Conditions — Other seemingly unrelated illnesses — like irritable bowel syndrome, endometriosis, or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) — can cause painful sex. You may also experience painful sex following certain treatments, such as a hysterectomy or radiation therapy.
  • PTSD, Stress, or Low Libido — A significant portion of the pleasure of sex is mental. Someone with trauma, depression, or significant stress may experience painful intercourse.

For People Assigned Male at Birth

Pain during sex can happen to anyone. People with male sexual organs may have different, non-STD related causes for pain during sex than those with vaginas. People with penises may experience:

  • Foreskin Issues — Foreskin on uncircumcised penises can become tight or uncomfortable. This tightness can lead to painful tearing or bleeding when you have an erection or even during sexual intercourse.
  • Unconventionally Shaped Penis — Some penises curve in ways that can make erections or penetrative sex uncomfortable. Atypical curvatures can occur in association with several conditions, including hypospadias or Peyronie’s disease.
  • Lesions or Growths — Non-STD related growths on male genitals can make sex uncomfortable. Such lesions could be benign cysts, similar to cystic acne. However, these growths could also indicate serious conditions like cancer. If you have a growth, see your doctor.
  • Priapism — Priapism is an ailment in which a person with a penis can experience a painful and lasting erection outside of a sexually arousing situation.
  • Allergies — Some individuals could be allergic to certain contraceptives — including latex condoms — as well as vaginal fluids. Wearing a condom to prevent STDs or unwanted pregnancies is always a good idea, and you can find latex alternatives if your allergies make sex uncomfortable.
  • Sensitivity Issues — It’s very common for individuals to experience periods of hypersensitivity of their penises following ejaculation. If you experience sensitivity to a painful degree, you should talk to your partner to avoid overstimulation. If the problem persists, you should speak to a doctor. 

Diagnosis and Treatment

It’s essential to remember that your sexual health and sex life play a significant role in your overall health. Stay on the lookout for these sexually transmitted conditions: 

  • Chlamydia — If caught early with a rapid STD test, chlamydia is treatable and curable with antibiotics.
  • Herpes — Herpes stays in your body forever, but doctors can prescribe medications to limit, prevent, and shorten outbreaks of active sores.
  • Gonorrhea — Your doctor can treat and cure gonorrhea with antibiotics.
  • Trichomoniasis — Doctors will typically prescribe an oral medication either in one megadose or over the course of a week. Both you and any affected partner(s) will need treatment.
  • Genital Warts — Genital warts often go away on their own, but you can carefully treat them with creams and wart removers. There is currently no treatment for HPV itself, but most symptoms are manageable.
  • Molluscum Contagiosum — These bumps can appear anywhere on your body, but doctors typically recommend treatment for those in the genital area. Your doctor can prescribe a topical ointment or medication. 

At Rapid STD Testing, we offer same-day STD testing and urge you to get tested early to avoid long-term issues associated with STDs. 

Get Tested Today at Rapid STD Testing

We offer a comprehensive 10-panel STD test and customizable packages to test for any STDs and STIs you may have contracted. Check out our panels and packages to get started today. You can give our Rapid STD Testing staff a call at (866) 872-1888, and we’ll happily answer any questions you may have.