About 15 percent of women at any given time experience pain either during intercourse or immediately afterwards.
This is called dyspareunia and it can be caused by a wide range of conditions, the most common of which are vaginal dryness or a vaginal infection.
Dryness can often be successfully managed with a lubricant, applied either prior to sex or on a more continual basis. A suspected vaginal infection should be confirmed by a physician and should be readily cleared up with an antibiotic.
Another common cause of pain during intercourse is if the man’s penis is hitting the woman’s cervix during sex.
This may be simply a mis-match between the size of the man’s penis and the woman’s vagina (in which case the man can simply try to avoid full penetration), or the woman may not be getting sufficiently sexually aroused, which naturally causes the cervix to “tent” somewhat, putting it less at risk of being hit by the penis.
Any pain during intercourse should be investigated, not only because pain will interfere with the pleasure of sex and may cause a woman to avoid intercourse, but because the pain may be a sign of a more serious condition such as endometriosis, a tipped or retroverted uterus, or interstitial cystitis.
Intercourse or orgasm can also be painful for men, though this is much less common than dyspareunia in women. As with women, pain may be caused by a number of problems, including Peyronie’s disease (a severe curvature in an erect penis), phimosis (when the foreskin of an uncircumcised penis is “stuck” over the head of the penis) and urinary tract infections that block the ejaculatory ducts.
Another relatively common cause of pain is an infection of the testicles called epididymitis, which can make the testicles so sensitive that the motions of sex become painful. Finally, the sores associated with some STIs (such as herpes lesions) can also turn sex into an excrutiating, rather than enjoyable, activity.
As with women, the bottom line is: if you’re having pain during or after sex, see a doctor!