2 in 5 young women will experience vaginal discomfort and painful penetration. You are not alone.
Some common conditions that can be at the root of the problem for young women are:
Vaginismus: Sex can be many things - fun, spontaneous, exciting, and relaxing, but for some people, sex is a source of fear and anxiety. Vaginismus is a psychological and physical problem that causes the muscles of the pelvic floor to become tight and spasm. Involuntary muscle contractions at the opening of the vagina cause burning / stinging pain in response to attempted penetration. The tightening of vaginal muscles can make it painful to insert a tampon, during sex, or during a gynecological exam.
Vaginal Infections: Vaginal infections (vaginitis) are an inflammation of the vagina caused by an imbalance of yeast and bacteria that normally live in the vagina. Symptoms may include irritation, itchiness, burning, discharge or odor, and painful sex.
Infection occurs when something upsets the naturally protective acidic vaginal environment. For example, taking an antibiotic, dips in estrogen during your menstrual cycle, unprotected sex, among others.
Hormonal contraceptives: Prolonged use of high-estrogen contraceptives ('the pill') can cause an imbalance of your estrogen/progesterone levels that mimic the second half of the menstrual cycle, which is a low-estrogen state. When vaginal estrogen levels drop your vaginal tissue becomes dry, you are more prone to infections and sex can become painful.
Vulvodynia: Chronic nerve sensitivity and pain at the opening of the vagina, including burning, stinging, soreness, itching, rawness and pain during sex.
Endometriosis: Endometriosis is a chronic condition in which the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus migrates to the lower abdomen, pelvis or vagina. This causes inflammation during menstrual cycles with shifts in estrogen, which lead to vaginal pain. Hormonal therapies for endometriosis that control estrogen to prevent tissue flare-ups, can cause vaginal dryness and painful sex.