Science Says One In 10 Women Have Painful Sex, So You're Not Alone

by Candice Jalili

Is sex a little painful for you?

If you're saying "No" out loud while a little voice in the back of your head whispers, "Yes, you idiot, of course you have," it turns out you're not alone.

A survey of almost 7,000 UK women ages 16 to 74 found that nearly one in 10 women experience pain during sex, according to Cosmopolitan. The technical term for it is "dyspareunia," and it's especially common in women ages 16 to 24.

I know the word "dyspareunia" sounds scary, but it literally is just another word for painful sex. Don't believe me? I Googled it:


So why are you experiencing this pain? According to the survey, published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, it's probably a result of vaginal dryness during sex (a helpful, life-changing tip if this is the case for you: LUBE IS YOUR BEST FRIEND), feeling anxious during sex and lack of enjoyment during sex.

Some of the women in the survey reported that their fear of experiencing pain again during sex is so great, they now avoid having it altogether.

The study's lead researcher, Dr. Kristin Mitchill, from LSHTM and the University of Glasgow, cites a couple of reasons why this lack of enjoyment is happening for younger women in particular:

In younger women, it might be that they are starting out in their sexual lives, and they are going along with things that their partner wants, but they are not particularly aroused by. Or they might be feeling tense because they are new to sex, and they are not feeling 100 percent comfortable with their partner.

That being said, BBC reports the pain you experience during sex could be a result of other health problems "such as sexually transmitted infections, endometriosis and fibroids, which should be diagnosed and treated."

Whatever the case, talk to your doctor about what's going on! I know it's a little bit of an embarrassing topic to bring up, but it's the only way to really get to the bottom of what's going on so you can have the fun painless sex you deserve.

Citations: Sex is painful for nearly one in 10 women, study finds (BBC), Large Study Reports That Nearly One in Ten Women Finds Sex Painful (Cosmopolitan)