Many people experience recurrent pain before, during, or after sex – known as dyspareunia – at some point in their lives. Dyspareunia is one of the most common reasons for referrals into sexual health services. It is most common amongst people with a vagina, though people of all genders can suffer.

Painful sexAnxiety and shame about speaking to a health professional can stop people from asking for help, which can cause worsening of symptoms (including the development of vaginismus in people with a vagina, or erectile dysfunction in people with a penis) longer term problems, or total avoidance of sex.

If you are experiencing pain during sex, it’s probably a good idea to see someone. There is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, and your healthcare provider will be happy to help.

Your GP is a good starting point, or if you’d feel more comfortable, a sexual health clinic will also be happy to see you. You may be referred for physical support or for mental health support, depending on your unique needs. If you are in the UK, visit NHS.uk/service-search/find-a-sexual-health-clinic/ to find your local sexual health clinic.