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Sex & relationships

Incontinence, urinary tract infections (UTIs), prolapse and problems with constipation and diarrhoea can affect women's sexual health and make sex painful.

Knowing what to do and manage the effects of these problems on your sex life is important.

Painful sex

Both bladder and bowel health, including incontinence, urinary tract infections (UTIs) and prolapse can affect women's sexual health and make sex painful.

In particular, penetration may be painful for some women because the muscles in the vagina spasm (called vaginismus). This creates a feeling of painful tightness. Frequent UTIs, prolapse and surgery for prolapse can all contribute to vaginismus.

Painful sex is distressing and can result in the loss of sexual interest, relationship problems, and affect your mood.

For more information and what treatment might be best for you, see our webpage on 'Painful sex (dyspareunia)'.

This web page is designed to be informative and educational. It is not intended to provide specific medical advice or replace advice from your health practitioner. The information above is based on current medical knowledge, evidence and practice as at August 2018.

Last updated: 21 January 2020 | Last reviewed: 04 August 2018

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