Pain experienced in the genital area during sexual intercourse
- Can affect sexually active males of any age
- Unprotected sex is a risk factor
- Genetics is not a significant factor
Painful sexual intercourse, known as dyspareunia, is rare in men. The cause is usually physical, but in some cases it may be psychological. Pain occurring in the penis during intercourse may be accompanied by a burning sensation both during and after ejaculation.
What are the causes?
The most common cause of painful sexual intercourse in men is an infection of the genitals, the prostate gland, or the urethra (the tube through which urine and semen pass out of the body). These infections, which include genital herpes and nongonococcal urethritis, are often transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse. Friction on the penis during sexual intercourse can aggravate the pain of an infection. Other possible causes of pain during intercourse include inflammation of the head of the penis (see Balanitis) and persistent inflammation of the prostate gland (see Prostatitis), which may result in pain on ejaculation. Dyspareunia may also be due to Peyronie’s disease, a condition in which the shape of the penis is abnormal when erect. A tight foreskin is another possible cause of painful intercourse (see Phimosis).
In some instances, discomfort during penetration results from skin irritation caused by an allergic reaction to a particular brand of condom or spermicide. Less commonly, sharp pain during penetration can be caused by threads of an intrauterine contraceptive device that protrude from the woman’s cervix (see Using contraceptives). Rarely, there may be a psychological reason, such as sexual abuse in childhood.
What might be done?
If you think that the pain is due to an allergy to condoms or spermicide, try changing to another brand. If the pain persists, consult your doctor. The doctor will examine you and may take a swab from the tip of the penis to test for infection. If you have an infection, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics for both you and your partner so that you do not reinfect each other, or may refer you to a clinic that specializes in sexually transmitted infections.
Any disorder that interferes with the erection of the penis may require surgery if it is causing pain. If your partner has an intrauterine contraceptive device that causes you discomfort, her doctor may trim its threads so that they do not protrude as far through the cervix.
If no physical cause is found, your doctor may refer you to a sex therapist, who will help you to work through any psychological problems together with your partner (see Sex therapy). Painful sexual intercourse in men can usually be treated successfully.
From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.
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