Pain during sex – also called dyspareunia – can be caused by vaginismus.
Vaginismus is when muscles in or around the vagina go into spasm, making sexual intercourse painful or impossible. It can be very upsetting and distressing. It can happen if a woman associates sex with pain or being "wrong", or if she's had vaginal trauma, such as an episiotomy during childbirth.
It can also stem from relationship problems, fear of pregnancy, or painful conditions of the vagina and the surrounding area.
Depending on the cause, it may be treated by focusing on sex education, counselling and using vaginal trainers, also known as vaginal dilators.
Vaginal trainers are cylindrical shapes that are inserted into the vagina. A woman will gradually use larger sizes until the largest size can be inserted comfortably. Some women may wish to try using their fingers instead.