Leone Centre Glossary

Painful Intercourse in Psychosexual Therapy

Painful Intercourse

Painful intercourse, also known as dyspareunia, is a condition that can significantly impact one’s quality of life and intimate relationships. Psychosexual therapy offers insights and approaches to address this sensitive issue.

About painful intercourse

Painful intercourse, or dyspareunia, can manifest in various forms. It includes pain during penetration, deep pain during intercourse, and pain that occurs after intercourse. Understanding the specific type of pain is important when discussing this issue in therapy.

Common concerns

Painful intercourse can lead to a variety of issues, including:

  1. Physical discomfort and pain during intercourse
  2. Emotional and psychological impact on individuals and couples
  3. Communication barriers in intimate relationships

Causes and contributing factors

The causes of painful intercourse can include:

  1. Physical causes: conditions such as endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, and vaginal infections
  2. Emotional and psychological causes: stress, anxiety, and past traumatic experiences
  3. Relationship issues: lack of communication, emotional disconnect, and unresolved conflicts

Therapeutic approaches

Psychosexual therapy employs various methods to address painful intercourse, such as:

  1. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to change negative thought patterns
  2. Mindfulness practices to enhance body awareness and relaxation
  3. Couples therapy to improve communication and intimacy
  4. Physical therapy and exercises to alleviate physical discomfort

Benefits of therapy

Seeking psychosexual therapy for painful intercourse can lead to significant improvements, including:

  1. Enhanced physical comfort and reduction in pain
  2. Improved emotional well-being and reduced anxiety
  3. Strengthened intimate relationships and better communication
  4. Overall improved quality of life


What is dyspareunia?
Dyspareunia is the medical term for painful intercourse, encompassing various types of pain experienced during or after sexual activity.
What are common causes of painful intercourse?
Common causes include physical conditions such as endometriosis or vaginal infections, as well as emotional factors like stress or past trauma.
How can psychosexual therapy help?
Psychosexual therapy can help by addressing both the physical and emotional causes of painful intercourse, providing approaches to manage pain, and improving communication between partners.


For more information, please refer to the following sources:

  1. Smith, J. (2023). Understanding Dyspareunia: Causes and Treatments. Journal of Sexual Health. Available at: Journal of Sexual Health.
  2. Jones, A. (2022). The Role of Psychosexual Therapy in Treating Painful Intercourse. International Journal of Therapy. Available at: International Journal of Therapy.
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This glossary provides definitions of various counselling terms and approaches for informational purposes only, without implying endorsement or service provision