• Therapy for Painful Sex/Dyspareunia

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    What is Painful Sex/Dyspareunia?

    Despite what you may have been led to believe, pain sex is not supposed to be painful! If you are experiencing recurring or persistent pain during sex or sexual intercourse, you may be experiencing a condition medically referred to as Dyspareunia.

    With Dyspareunia, pain can be present at penetration, during sexual activity, and/or after sexual activity. Pain can be localized to the genitals or it can radiate throughout the pelvis. 

    Pain during sex/Dyspareunia is experienced by individuals of all ages and genders and it can be present from the first sexual contact or develop later in life.

    Pain during sex/Dyspareunia, can have a profound impact on one’s emotional, physical, and relational wellbeing. It can interfere with the experience of sexual pleasure and often can prevent individuals from engaging in sexual activity.

    It is important that anyone experiencing pain with sexual activity and sexual intercourse connect with a doctor for physical assessment and to rule out any medical causes.

    Are you enduring the physical and emotional agony of painful intercourse? 

    Does discomfort interfere with your experience of intimacy and joy?

    Have you been withdrawing from intimacy due to the fear of experiencing pain?

    Is painful sex straining your relationships and impacting your overall wellbeing?

    Are you tired of feeling alone and not knowing where to turn?

    At New Moon Psychotherapy, we understanding the profound emotional, physical, and relational impact that painful intercourse (dyspareunia) can have on your overall well-being. 

    The therapists on our team have specialized training in sex therapy, including treating painful intercourse (dyspareunia).

    We understand the impact of painful intercourse (dyspareunia) and know how to guide you towards a path of healing and regaining control over your body and your life.

    Physical Pain

    Individuals with dyspareunia experience pain during penetration or at various stages of sexual activity, making intimate moments distressing. 

    Emotional and Psychological Impact

    Anxiety and Stress 

    A common experience with chronic pain is anticipatory anxiety of pain. This can create more tension in the body which exacerbates pain and heightens stress.


    Dyspareunia can lead to feelings of sadness or hopelessness, particularly if it affects one’s sense of self and relationships.

    Impact on Self-Esteem

    Persistent pain can affect one’s body image and self-esteem, leading to a diminished sense of sexual confidence.

    Relationship Strain

    Communication Challenges

    Very few of us have learned how to talk about sex or feel comfortable openly discussing it. This can create problems when experiencing painful sex/dyspareunia. Additionally, the stress and anxiety associated with the experience can make it difficult to feel comfortable speaking about it. 

    Intimacy Issues 

    Individuals and couples may experience a decline in intimacy as the fear of pain can lead to avoidance of sexual activities.

    Diminished Quality of Life

    Social Withdrawal

    The fear or anticipation of experiencing pain often leads individuals to withdraw from social and intimate activities (ie. dating, engaging with people that may lead to sexual encounters or discussion of sexual experiences, etc.) which impacts overall quality of life.

    Negative Impact on Daily Activities

    The physical and emotional toll of dyspareunia can extend beyond the bedroom, affecting various aspects of daily life.

    Underlying Medical Conditions

    Sometimes painful sex/dyspareunia is a symptom of underlaying medical conditions such as infections, hormonal changes or pelvic floor disorders. These conditions themselves can have an impact on various aspects of an individuals’ life and must be assessed by an appropriate professional (ie. doctor, pelvic floor specialist, etc.).

    How Does Dyspareunia/Painful Sex Impact People?

    The impact of painful sex/dyspareunia is much more than momentary physical discomfort. Pain with sex/dyspareunia is a legitimate and treatable concern. 

    Open communication with healthcare providers and intimate partners is the first step towards a fulfilling and pain-free intimate life. 

    How Can Therapy Help?

    Identification of Underlying Factors

    Therapy offers a space in which individuals can explore and identify the various emotional and relational factors that contributing to dyspareunia. Therapists can help clients build the confidence and motivation to reach out to medical professionals to assess for physical and medical underlying causes. 

    Emotional Support

    The experience of chronic pain with sexual activity/dyspareunia, is associated with various difficult emotions including anxiety/fear, stress, frustration, hopelessness. 

    Therapy provides a safe and judgment-free space for individuals and couples to express and process these emotions. Therapy can also provide strategies for managing difficult emotions as they arise, fostering emotional well-being.

    Communication Skills

    An important component of sexual health and sexual satisfaction is communication. Open and honest communication about pain during sex/dyspareunia is essential for understanding, support, and collaborative problem-solving. An element of therapy involves learning communication skills and how to effectively communicate about the pain being experienced. 

    Communication can be enhanced in individual and couples therapy formats.

    Changing Your Thinking

    Therapy can help  individuals reframe their perceptions and develop healthier attitudes toward sexuality. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is a well researched and proven to be effective therapy approach to changing one’s thinking.

    Exploration of Intimacy and Pleasure

    Sex Therapy often involves exploring positive aspects of intimacy and pleasure. This can help shift the focus from pain to positive sensations, fostering a renewed sense of enjoyment in sexual experiences.

    Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques

    Mindfulness practices and relaxation techniques can be integrated into therapy to help individuals manage stress, anxiety, and muscle tension, all of which may contribute to or exacerbate pain during sex/dyspareunia.

    Treatment Complement

    Psychotherapy can work in conjunction with medical treatments, such as medications or devices, to enhance their effectiveness. When causes are physical or medical, sex therapy will not treat the problem, however, research consistently shows that people experience improved outcomes with a combination of medical and psychological treatment. 

    Desensitization Exercises

    Therapists may employ behavioral interventions, such as systematic desensitization or sensate focus exercises, to gradually reintroduce and improve comfort with sexual activities.

    Trauma-Informed Care

    Trauma, particularly sexual or relational traumas, can contribute to, or cause, dyspareunia. Processing traumatic experiences and learning to navigate triggers can lessen the severity or completely eliminate the experience of pain during sex.

    New Moon Psychotherapy is a trauma focused clinic. The sex therapists on our team have a solid understanding of trauma – how it can manifest physically and how to treat it. 

    Sex therapy may involve various forms of therapy to help you process your past traumatic experiences. These therapeutic approaches may include Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Somatic and Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Emotion Focused Therapy, and Psychodynamic Psychotherapy.

    Boosting Confidence

    Therapy can boost your self-esteem and self-confidence, which is often impacted by dyspareunia.

    Recovery from dyspareunia is possible.
    Reaching out is a courageous first step!

    What Can I Expect During Sex Therapy for Dyspareunia?

    Therapy for dyspareunia involves a collaborative and comprehensive approach to address the physical, emotional, and relational aspects of the condition. 

    Here’s what individuals can generally expect during therapy for dyspareunia:

    Initial Assessment

    The first one to three sessions will involve a comprehensive assessment. The therapist will ask you to share your medical history, sexual history, and any emotional or psychological factors that may be contributing to dyspareunia. You will also be asked about the pain that you are experiencing, when it happens, does anything make it better or worse, where it hurts, and how it hurts. It may feel uncomfortable to talk about these things – our sex therapists will go at your pace so that you feel comfortable.

    This assessment is important because it allows the therapist to understand your unique situation which will enable them to tailor a treatment plan to meet your specific needs. 

    Goal Setting

    You and your therapist will work collaboratively to set treatment goals. These goals will be tailored to your needs and may include improving your understanding of dyspareunia, relaxation exercises, communication skills training, addressing relationship issues, and/or teaching different ways to engage sexually and not trigger pain.


    We truly believe that knowledge is power! 

    The sex therapist may provide information to help you understand your body, pain, and treatment options. 

    Most commonly, the information shared includes:

    • potential causes of dyspareunia,
    • impact of dyspareunia,
    • available treatment options,
    • education about anatomy and the physiology of sexual responses,
    • exploring healthy sexual functioning,
    • navigating sexual activity while avoiding pain triggers,
    • dispelling myths and misinformation that may contribute to anxiety and tension in relationships.

    Identifying Contributing Factors

    During sex therapy, the therapist works collaboratively with individuals and/or couples to identify physical, medical, psychological, and relational factors that may be contributing to pain during sexual activity. 

    This process typically entails a referral to a medical doctor (ie. family doctor, gynecologist, urologist, etc.) and a physical practitioner (ie. Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist). 

    Exercises and Homework

    You may be assigned exercises to practice at home in between sessions. The purpose of these exercises is to master the strategies and techniques that you are learning in therapy. This will make it more likely that you will use what you’ve learned in real life situations and get the most out of therapy. 

    Progress Monitoring

    Throughout the therapy process, your therapist will monitor your progress towards your treatment goals. They will make adjustments to the treatment plan to ensure that you’re on the right track and that the treatment plan is suitable to you.

    Support and Encouragement

    One of the most important aspects of sex therapy is providing you with emotional support and encouragement. The sex therapists at New Moon Psychotherapy aim to provide you with a non judgmental, empathic, and understanding environment in which you can openly discuss your concerns and experiences. It is normal to feel uncomfortable talking about sex and sex related difficulties. This gets easier with time. 

    Duration and Frequency

    The number of sessions and their frequency can vary depending on your individual needs and progress. Some people may benefit from a relatively short-term therapy approach, while others may require longer-term support. The therapist will be able to provide you with more information after the initial assessment. 


    Your privacy is a top priority in sex therapy. Rest assured that all sessions are conducted in strict confidence. The sex therapist will help you understand limits to confidentiality at your first appointment. 

    Overall, sex therapy for pain during sexual activity/dyspareunia intends to provide you with the tools, knowledge, and support that will help you overcome your condition and improve your sexual health and satisfaction. 

    Sex therapy is a collaborative, empowering and transformative process. With the guidance of a trained sex therapist, you can work towards achieving a more satisfying and fulfilling sex life, free from pain and discomfort.

    A Treatment Team Approach

    The effective treatment of dyspareunia often involves a multidisciplinary approach (psychotherapy, gynecology, urology, pharmacology, pelvic floor physiotherapy, etc). Treatment efficacy improves with collaboration among treating professionals. At New Moon Psychotherapy, our team regularly collaborates with other treating professionals. 

    * Individuals experiencing pain with sexual activity should always consult with a medical professional. Often, underlaying medical conditions or physical factors are associated with dyspareunia. Psychotherapy should be only used as a complement to medical and physical intervention or when underlaying physical causes have been ruled out. 

    Holistic Approach

    Therapy for dyspareunia/pain during sexual activity, often takes a holistic approach, recognizing the interconnectedness of physical, emotional, and relational aspects. This approach allows for tailored interventions that address the unique needs of each individual.

    It’s important to note that therapy for dyspareunia is personalized, and the specific approach may vary based on individual needs and circumstances. 

    Open communication with the therapist, active participation in the process, and a commitment to the treatment plan are crucial for positive outcomes. 

    Individuals are encouraged to seek support from healthcare professionals, including psychotherapists and gynecologists, to determine the most appropriate and effective treatment plan for their specific situation.

    Meet our team

    Ready to get started?
    Reach out to us today!

    Reach out to us today to schedule a free 15-minute consultation with a therapist to learn how we might be able to help.

    Call, text, or email using the information/form below. Our administrative team will answer any questions you might have and learn how we can help you. 

    Prefer to book on your own? Don’t want to wait for the office to open? Click the link below to schedule a consultation.

    If you’re specifically interested in therapy for erectile dysfunction, please tell us at this time so that we can connect you with a therapist trained in it. 

    You will then be connected with a therapist for a free 15-minute consultation. 

    This is a chance for us to meet the therapist, ask questions and learn about their approach so that you can determine if they’re the right fit for you. 

    Schedule your first therapy appointment and begin your healing journey! 

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