Does Menopause Cause Pain During Sex?

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Ask the experts

I heard that sexual intercourse becomes painful after menopause. Is this true? How can I prevent this from happening?

Doctor's response

Just as the symptoms of menopause vary among women, the extent to which individual women experience these symptoms also varies. Because menopause is associated with decreased levels of estrogen, the lining of the vagina may become drier and thinner, often leading to burning, itching, or discomfort during sexual intercourse.

While you can't prevent the changes from occurring, your doctor can help you find ways to manage the symptoms. Hormone therapy is the most reliable treatment for menopausal symptoms, particularly for vaginal discomfort. Depending on your personal and family medical history, your doctor may prescribe estrogen (in the lowest effective dose) to help manage your symptoms, including vaginal dryness or discomfort. Estrogen tablets, rings, and creams are also available for local application of estrogen to the vagina. Over-the-counter vaginal moisturizers and lubricants can also provide relief from discomfort associated with intercourse.

Medically reviewed by Wayne S. Blocker, MD; Board Certification in Obstetrics and Gynecology


"Patient information: Menopause (Beyond the Basics)"

Rossouw JE; Anderson GL; Prentice RL et al. Risks and benefits of estrogen plus progestin in healthy postmenopausal women: principal results From the Women's Health Initiative randomized controlled trial. JA

Utian WH; Archer DF; Bachmann GA, et al. Estrogen and progestogen use in postmenopausal women: July 2008 position statement of The North American Menopause Society. Menopause. 2008 Jul-Aug;15(4 Pt 1):584-602.

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Reviewed on 9/12/2017