If Sex Is Painful, This Common Condition Could Explain Why

Photographed by Ashley Armitage.
When you're in the middle of penetrative sex and your vagina starts to hurt, you probably go through a silent checklist of what could be causing it: Is it a weird position? Do I need more lube? Do I have an infection? It might feel like a mystery of your vagina that you're doomed to suffer through, but pain during sex is not only pretty common — it's manageable, too. There's even a medical term for it: dyspareunia.
"Dyspareunia refers to pain with intercourse, and it encompasses a wide range of issues," says Mary Jane Minkin, MD, a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale University School of Medicine. The good news is that once you figure out the cause, there are plenty of ways to treat and manage the symptoms of dyspareunia, Dr. Minkin says.
Unfortunately, many people neglect to mention painful sex to their doctors, because they're self-conscious, ashamed, or flat out don't think there's anything out there to help. Ahead, Dr. Minkin explains how to tell if you have dyspareunia and what you can do to seek relief.