Can Physical Therapy Help With Painful Intercourse?

Can Physical Therapy Help With Painful Intercourse? | Capitol Physical Therapy | Washington DC Physical Therapists

If you’re experiencing unwanted or unexpected pain during penetrative sex, it may drive you to try to avoid it altogether.

But while there’s nothing wrong with not wanting to have sex, if you’re avoiding it primarily because it’s painful, this avoidance can then lead to other issues related to confidence and self esteem, as well as issues with your relationship.

The good news, though, is there is help available.

If you’ve been experiencing unwanted or unexpected pain during penetrative sex, we can provide pelvic floor physical therapy to help with these issues.

Read on for more information about what might be causing painful intercourse and how physical therapy can help with pain management.

What Is Dyspareunia (Painful Intercourse)?

If you experience recurring or consistent unexpected pain prior to, throughout, or following penetrative sex, you may have dyspareunia.

Painful sex can be related to a variety of reasons, including psychological issues and structural problems, and it’s experienced by many individuals throughout the course of their lives.

Symptoms Of Painful Intercourse

Individuals with dyspareunia may experience symptoms such as:

  • Aching or burning during penetration
  • Pain while thrusting
  • Throbbing which lasts long after the penetration ends
  • Pain during other types of penetration, such as tampon use

What Causes Painful Intercourse?

Causes of painful sex can be divided into a few categories: pain during entry, deep pain during penetration, and pain due to emotional factors.

Many of the causes are related to issues with the pelvic floor.

For instance, stress, an emotional issue, can lead to the pelvic floor muscles becoming tightened and lead to pain during penetration.

Pain during entry may be due to injury, trauma, scarring from pelvic surgery, or an accident.

Finally, deep pain during intercourse can be due to conditions such as pelvic floor dysfunction or scarring from pelvic surgery.

Other possible causes of painful intercourse may include:

  • Vaginismus – involuntary spasms of the vaginal wall muscles
  • Poor lubrication, which can be due to some medications, or not enough foreplay
  • Infection or inflammation of the skin in the genital area or urinary tract
  • Anxiety or depression related to any number of factors, including but not limited intimacy issues, your physical appearance, or relationship problems
  • Conditions such as endometriosis, uterine prolapse, or cystitis
  • A history of having experienced sexual violence

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction And Painful Intercourse

If you suspect you may have dyspareunia, a physical therapist can help.

We’ll start with an assessment of your pelvic floor muscles, getting a better understanding of any dysfunction present.

In particular, we’ll take a look at your pelvic floor muscles:

  • Strength
  • Tone
  • Mobility
  • Flexibility
  • Tenderness
  • Stability
  • And more

Based on what we find, we may discover your discomfort during penetrative sex is related to pelvic floor issues, and from there will suggest treatment – more on that in the next paragraph.

This is generally due to a combination of factors related to the nerves, skin, muscles, joints, and tissues.

Pelvic floor dysfunction means that you’re unable to relax and coordinate your pelvic floor muscles.

In addition to painful sex, it can also result in difficulty with urination or trouble controlling bowel movements.

We may also recommend the involvement of other healthcare providers, including your OB-GYN and general practitioner.

How Can Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy For Painful Intercourse Help | Capitol Physical Therapy | Washington DC Physical Therapists

How Can Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy For Painful Intercourse Help?

If you’re experiencing unwanted or unexpected painful penetrative sexual intercourse due to pelvic floor dysfunction, our Washington DC physical therapists can help provide relief.

Pelvic floor physical therapy is a specialized area within physical therapy which requires specific training, which our very own Dr. Valerie Rucker has received.

The goal of physical therapy for dyspareunia is to help increase blood flow to the pelvic region, relax the muscles, and help decrease overall levels of pain and sensitivities.

Treatments will vary from person to person because every individual is different, however some general principles include:

  • Hands on techniques such as trigger point release, myofascial release, and massage to help to relieve tightness in the pelvis, back, abdomen, thighs, and hips.
  • Exercises to help open your vagina and relax pelvic muscles, and then exercises to help isolate and tone pelvic floor muscles.
  • Desensitization to insertion of fingers, tampons, and dilators.

Your physical therapist may also give you things to do in between sessions to help speed up your recovery, and these can include:

  • Stretches for your hips, legs, and backs
  • Massage techniques which you can do on your own or with a partner
  • Pelvic drop exercises
  • Use of portable biofeedback devices
  • Use of dilators between appointments

Book Your Appointment With Capitol Physical Therapy Today

If you’re experiencing unexpected or unwanted pain during penetrative sex, it can be quite distressing.

It can create stress in relationships if one partner tries to avoid or put off intimacy because they know it comes with unpleasant and painful side effects.

Or you push through, leading to sex which ultimately isn’t enjoyable.

Thankfully, there is help.

We’re Capitol Physical therapy, serving the Washington DC and Upper Marlboro, Maryland communities.

We understand that for many people, discussing issues related to painful intercourse can be embarrassing.

However, one of our skilled physical therapists will treat your issues with the utmost discretion and professionalism.

Book your appointment with Capitol Physical Therapy today.

Capitol Physical Therapy
1331 H St NW #200,
Washington, DC 20005


9560 Pennsylvania Ave. # 202,
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772


Capitol Physical Therapy offers orthopedic and other pain related solutions, with our versitile team of physical therapists in Washington, DC