Frequently asked questions


A skin condition that is often characterized by unbearable itchiness. The patches of skin often become thickened, inflamed, and develop thin cracks. There are several different types of eczema, with varying causes and treatments.


A condition where tissue from the lining of the uterus (endometrial tissue) grows outside the uterus and attaches to other organs in the abdominal cavity (most often the ovaries and fallopian tubes). Symptoms may include painful menstrual periods, heavy menstrual bleeding, pain during and after sexual intercourse, and infertility. Often considered to be the most common cause of pelvic pain.

Interstitial Cystitis

The chronic, and often severe, inflammation of the bladder wall. Cause is usually unknown. Symptoms include frequency of urination, urgency, and sometimes pelvic pain.

Lichen Sclerosus

A painful skin disorder that typically affects the vulva and/or anus in women. Symptoms include itching and/or burning, thinning skin, white patches of skin, sores or ulcers from scratching, and pain during sexual intercourse. If not treated can lead to fusing of the skin, atrophy, and narrowing of the vagina.

Ovarian Cyst

An ovarian cyst is any collection of fluid within the ovary. Any ovarian follicle that is larger than about 2 centimeters is termed an ovarian cyst. Symptoms may include pain or pressure in the abdomen, problems with urine flow, and pain during intercourse.

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

General term for infection of the lining of the uterus, the fallopian tubes, or the ovaries. It is a common result of infection with sexually transmitted diseases.


An itchy skin condition characterized by raised red patches of skin covered with silvery scales, although when located in the vulvar area the skin usually less scaly or raised

Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD)

Herpes, human papilloma virus (HPV) and other STDs can cause discomfort and pain during sexual intercourse.

Trauma of the vaginal canal & vulva during childbirth

Birth trauma, whether due to difficult labor and/or multiple labors, can result in internal vaginal tears, decreased estrogen levels, less lubrication of the vaginal canal, weakening of the pelvic floor muscles, tearing and scarring of the perineum, and sometimes undetermined “deep” pelvic pain. Pain during intercourse can be a consequence of any of these conditions.

Trauma due to surgery

Sometimes following vaginal surgery or pelvic surgery there can be scarring of tissues that had been torn or cut during the procedure. This can cause pain during intercourse.

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

Infection of the urinary tract (kidneys, bladder, urethra). Usually caused by bacteria.

Vaginal Atrophy (atrophic vaginitis)

The inflammation of the vagina due to diminishing estrogen levels resulting in thinning and shrinking tissues and reduced lubrication of the vaginal walls. Characterized by vaginal dryness, itching or burning, discomfort, and painful sexual intercourse. It typically occurs following menopause when estrogen levels are lower or in younger women immediately after childbirth or while breast feeding, but can also occur following chemotherapy or radiation, when the ovaries may not be functioning properly.

Vaginal Prolapse

“Prolapse” indicates that an organ has slipped out of its proper place. Vaginal prolapse can be due to a variety of factors including hysterectomy, menopause, obesity, difficult labor, and/or weak pelvic floor muscles. There may be symptoms of urinary incontinence, pain during intercourse, constipation, and/or vaginal heaviness or pain.

Vaginal Irritation

Feminine hygiene products, douches, soaps, powders, detergents, and too tight underwear and pants can all cause irritation of the vaginal area leading to discomfort and/or pain during sex.

Vulvar Cancer

A rare type of cancer where cancer cells are found in the vulva. It is often misdiagnosed as a yeast infection.


Chronic vulvar discomfort or pain, characterized by burning, stinging, irritation or rawness of the female genitalia when there is no infection or skin diseases of the vulva or vagina that could cause these symptoms.

Vulvar Vestibulitis (also known as Vestibulodynia, Localized vulvodynia, or Vestibulitis)

This is a type of vulvodynia specific to pain on touch and/or pressure only in the vestibule, which is the area within the inner lips surrounding the vaginal opening. There is almost always pain with sexual intercourse.

Dysesthetic Vulvodynia (also known as Generalized Vulvodynia)

Pain may be present in the outer lips (labia majora), inner lips (labia minora), and/or the vestibule (area surrounding the vaginal opening). Women have also indicated pain in the clitoris, the mons or pubic mound, the perineum, and/or inner thighs. The pain can exist in one or all of these areas and can be constant or intermittent. Pain can be experienced even when nothing is touching the area.

Yeast infection (Vulvovaginal candidiasis)

Vaginal infection characterized by severe itching, vaginal discharge, soreness or irritation, burning sensation, and pain during sexual intercourse. There may be burning discomfort during urination.

Some additional causes of sexual pain (other than vaginismus) are listed in the following tabs.

It is important to note that secondary vaginismus can co-exist with these medical conditions or continue to be present even after the condition has been resolved. If you suspect that you have one or more of these conditions make note when you see your physician:

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