Sex Pain: Millions of Women Have It

Find out what causes excruciating pain during sex and how to get treatment.

ByABC News
August 6, 2009, 4:48 PM

Aug. 6, 2009 — -- For many women sexual intercourse is an unbearable experience. The women profiled by "20/20" suffered in silence: They did not feel pleasure from sex. Instead, they said they felt excruciating pain.

The unbearable vaginal pain extended beyond sex to everyday activities like walking, and even light contact from wearing blue jeans could be too agonizing to bear. But all the women said what's almost harder than the physical pain is the emotional toll of suffering from such a mysterious condition without a clear diagnosis.

Dr. Andrew Goldstein, who runs the Center for Vulvovaginal Disorders in Washington, D.C., and is a pioneer in the new field of sexual pain disorders, said 20 million American women will suffer from sexual pain disorders at some point in their lives.

So what are the main causes of sex pain? Goldstein said the number one cause is birth control pills, followed by tight pelvic muscles and an overabundance of nerve endings at the opening of the vagina.

1. Did your sexual pain begin while you were taking hormonal contraceptive (birth control pill/patch/vaginal ring) or when you were taking medication for infertility, endometriosis or breast cancer?