Many people experience painful sex – known as dyspareunia – at some point in their lives and painful sex is one of the most common reasons for younger women to be referred to sexual health services.

Many of these problems can be down to not being relaxed enough, haste during sex (with minimal foreplay), anxiety or  poor communication between partners.

Women can sometimes not listen to their own bodies, causing difficulties which tend to be compounded by insensitivity and mismatched expectations between partners.

Good communication is absolutely key to sexual pain problems. Being willing to listen and adapt to your partners needs is much more likely to lead to good sex than simple “technique.”

People can experience pain during sex due to emotional trauma, following difficult experiences such as abortion or pregnancy loss, or physical trauma. These can lead to a vicious circle, with anticipation of pain causing tension and further pain. Painful sex can sometimes develop into vaginismus.

Some sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or skin conditions may  cause burning and pain. Women who tend to suffer from eczema on other areas of the body appear can sometimes have eczema on their vulva.  Condoms and lube can sometimes cause irritation and soreness.

Anxiety and shame about speaking to a health professional can stop people from asking for help, which can cause worsening of symptoms, longer term problems, or total avoidance of sex

Childbirth, breastfeeding and menopause can also cause sexual pain. Damage to the foreskin or frenulum and small tears in bleeding can be traumatic or painful.

Adult circumcision (removal of the foreskin), can lead to emotional trauma and continuing pain on intercourse, especially if the wound gets infected.

Some men have pain during sex just before they orgasm or while they are having an orgasm. This may result in similar anticipation of pain or arousal problems as experienced by women.

It’s best not to force your way through sexual experiences if you find them painful. Treatment is available along with reassurance and emotional support.

If you are really relaxed, really excited, you use lubricant and sexual pain is still there - have it checked.