Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

You know the old saying "love hurts"? Sex can hurt, too. After menopause, up to half of all women have pain before, during, or after sex. With care, though, your sex life can move from ouch back to mmmm.

Why It Happens

At menopause, you're most likely to have pain from:

  • Hormone changes. Dwindling estrogen due to menopause is the No. 1 reason for sex pain at midlife and beyond. Hormone shifts make the tissues in the vagina become thin and dry. Dryness can add friction during sex. The vagina also stretches less, making you feel tight.
  • Fear and worry about pain. Once painful sex happens, you may dread its return. Fear can make your muscles tight and add dryness.
  • A health problem. Otherissues not due to menopause may be at fault, like chronic pain syndrome in the vulva, the area around the entrance to your vagina. Or you may have a urinary tract or yeast infection, or a skin problem. Being stressed or depressed, problems with your partner, or past sexual abuse can also trigger painful sex.

 

What You Can Do to Relieve Pain

Try these tips to boost your sexual pleasure:

  • Go for more glide. Use a lubricant before and after sex to ease pain due to dryness. For good glide that's not sticky, look for a water-based lubricant, sold over the counter. If one brand bothers your skin, try others.
  • Moisturize. A vaginal moisturizer can ease dryness over the long term. Use it routinely, not just before sex.
  • Make time for foreplay. Spending more time getting aroused makes you wetter. Don't focus just on The Big Act. Take time to caress, have oral sex, or try varied positions. Talk to your partner about what feels good and what doesn't.
  • Wash with care. Avoid using soaps, shower gels, bubble bath, and bath oils in the vaginal area. These can dry skin. A warm water rinse will do the job. Also skip sprays and perfumes. When you're having problems, wash your underwear in mild soap. Make your undies white cotton, too.
  • Have more sex. "Use it or lose it" is true when it comes to the health of your sex organs. Being aroused improves blood flow. So when you have sex often, you're less dry. Self-pleasure can help if other sex acts hurt.

How Your Doctor Can Help

Don't be shy about getting help. And don't think sexual pain is just part of menopause. Sex should never hurt. Get an exam to help pinpoint the cause. This will help steer you to the right treatment.

If the pain is due to menopause:

  • Your doctor may prescribe low-dose estrogen to ease vaginal dryness. Three types -- a cream, tablet, and ring -- go right into your vagina.
  • Estrogen-like pills may also be an option. In 2013, a pill was approved that acts like estrogen to treat painful sex and help improve some vaginal tissue changes that occur at menopause.

If the pain is due to something else:

  • A skin rash or urinary tract infection can be treated with drugs or ointments.
  • Your doctor may prescribe lidocaine, a numbing ointment, to use before or after sex.
  • Pelvic floor therapy may help. This includes techniques such as massage to relax and stretch tissue, and exercises to ease tightness and strengthen pelvic muscles. 
  • Outpatient surgery to remove some tissue may help if other options don't.

Your doctor can also refer you to a counselor or sex therapist if emotional issues are causing pain, or if pain is putting stress on you and your partner.

experiencing moderate to severe painful intercourse

Moderate to Severe Painful Sex Due to Menopause?

Many women experiencing very painful sex after menopause never initiate a conversation with their healthcare providers. But providers can help. Open up and start talking.

find the words to get help

Find the Words to Get Help

Don't live in silence about the changes you face in your menopausal years. Moderate to severe painful intercourse after menopause can often be treated. You are not alone.

Previous Slide Next Slide

Important Safety Information for Osphena

Most Important Information you should know about Osphena (ospemifene)

Osphena works like estrogen in the lining of the uterus, but can work differently in other parts of the body.

Taking estrogen alone or Osphena may increase your chance for getting cancer of the lining of the uterus, strokes, and blood clots. Vaginal bleeding after menopause may be a warning sign of cancer of the lining of the uterus. Your healthcare provider should check any unusual vaginal bleeding to find out the cause, so tell them right away if this happens while you are using Osphena.

You and your healthcare provider should talk regularly about whether you still need treatment with Osphena.

Call your healthcare provider right away if you get changes in vision or speech, sudden new severe headaches, and severe pains in your chest or legs with or without shortness of breath, weakness and fatigue.

Osphena should not be used if you have unusual vaginal bleeding; have or have had certain types of cancers (including cancer of the breast or uterus); have or had blood clots; had a stroke or heart attack; have severe liver problems; or think you may be pregnant. Tell your healthcare provider if you are going to have surgery or will be on bed rest.

Possible side effects of Osphena

Serious but less common side effects can include stroke, blood clots, and cancer of the lining of the uterus.

Common side effects can include hot flashes, vaginal discharge, muscle spasms and increased sweating.

Tell your healthcare provider about all of the medicines you take as some medicines may affect how Osphena works. Osphena may also affect how other medicines work.

What is Osphena (ospemifene) tablets?

Osphena is a prescription oral pill that treats painful intercourse, a symptom of changes in and around your vagina, due to menopause.

Please read the Patient Information for Osphena (ospemifene) tablets, including Boxed WARNING in the Full Prescribing Information.

OSP13-WWW-038-00 11/13

close

From Our Sponsor

Content under this heading is from or created on behalf of the named sponsor. This content is not subject to the WebMD Editorial Policy and is not reviewed by the WebMD Editorial department for accuracy, objectivity or balance.