Overcoming Painful Sex: How Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy Can Help

By Dr. Christine Martirez PT, DPT on 9/26/2023

Married Couple Holding Hands

Intimacy is an essential part of many people’s lives, fostering emotional connections and overall well-being. However, for some females, the experience of painful sex can be a frustrating and distressing obstacle. Fortunately, pelvic floor physical therapy offers a solution that can significantly improve the quality of life for individuals facing this challenge. Let’s explore what causes painful sex, the role of pelvic floor physical therapy, and where to find resources for help and support.

Painful sex, also known as dyspareunia, is a condition characterized by pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse. It can occur for various reasons, and some common causes include:

  • Pelvic Floor Dysfunction: Dysfunction of the pelvic floor muscles can lead to painful sex. These muscles play a crucial role in supporting the pelvic organs and controlling bowel and bladder function. If they are too tight or too weak, they can cause discomfort during intercourse.

  • Vaginal Dryness: Insufficient vaginal lubrication can result from hormonal changes, medications, or medical conditions, leading to friction and discomfort during sex.

  • Infections or Inflammation: Infections, such as yeast or urinary tract infections, and inflammatory conditions can cause pain in the genital area during intercourse.

  • Psychological Factors: Anxiety, stress, trauma, or a history of sexual abuse can contribute to painful sex by affected a person’s emotion and physical response to intimacy.

Pelvic floor physical therapy is a specialized form of physical therapy that focuses on the muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues of the pelvic area. For females experiencing painful sex, pelvic floor physical therapy can be a highly effective treatment option. Here’s how it works:

  • Assessment: A trained pelvic floor physical therapist will conduct a thorough evaluation to identify the root cause of the pain. This may include assessing muscle tone, strength, and coordination, as well as addressing any psychosomatic factors.

  • Tailored Treatment: Based on the assessment, a personalized treatment plan is developed. This plan may include exercises to relax or strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, techniques to improve blood flow and reduce inflammation, and strategies to address any psychological factors contributing to the pain.

  • Education: Patients are educated about their pelvic health and provided with tools and exercises to manage their condition independently. 

  • Follow-Up: Regular follow-up appointments with the therapist ensure progress is being made and adjustments to the treatment plan can be made as needed

Painful sex can significantly impact a person's quality of life and intimate relationships. However, pelvic floor physical therapy offers hope and relief by addressing the underlying causes and providing tailored treatment. Don't hesitate to seek help if you're experiencing painful sex, as there are resources and professionals available to support you on your journey toward a more comfortable and fulfilling intimate life.

If you are experiencing pelvic floor dysfunctions associated with the issues above, please reach out to us at Pelvic Health Center in Madison, NJ to set up an evaluation and treatment! Feel free to call us at 908-443-9880 or email us at

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