WHO Guide to Mental and Neurological Health in Primary Care
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Dyspareunia

Essential information for patient and partner

There are many physical causes, both of deep and superficial dyspareunia. Women typically seek treatment in general medical settings. Genital abnormalities are rarely found on examination. Exclude treatable causes. Pain can occur before, during and after intercourse. In some cases, however, anticipation, poor lubrication and muscle tension are significant factors. Even where there has been a physical cause and it has resolved, anticipation of pain may frequently maintain the dyspareunia. The use and understanding of pain cycles is very helpful and often the secret to success.

General management and advice to patient and partner

Treat any physical cause. Check if patient experiences desire/arousal/lubrication.  Relaxation, good arousal, prolonged foreplay and careful penetration may overcome psychogenic problems. Referral to a gynaecologist or GUM clinic or psychosexual service is advisable if simple measures are unsuccessful.

Last edited: 22/8/2003


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