Pain during intercourse, dyspareunia, is one of the most common complaints in gynecologic practice. The World Health Organization reported that between 8%-22% of women experience dyspareunia lasting at least 3 months. A study in Sweden of over 3000 women showed that at any given time, more than 4% of women in their 20’s have dyspareunia. This means that at least 20 million American women will experience chronic dyspareunia in their lifetimes.

For many years, it was the common belief among physicians that most dyspareunia was caused by psychological reasons. Women were labeled as “frigid,” “anxious,” or “hysterical.” However, finally, the medical community is beginning to recognize that almost all dyspareunia has a physiologic (physical) cause.

Dyspareunia is not one specific disease. Instead, it is a symptom with many different causes, the most common of which are listed below.