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  • Dyspareunia is painful sexual intercourse, due to medical or psychological causes. The symptom is significantly more common in women than in men, affecting up to one-fifth of women at some point in their lives. The causes are often reversible, even when long-standing, but self-perpetuating pain is a factor after the original cause has been removed. A medical evaluation of dyspareunia focuses initially on physical causes, which must be ruled out before psychogenic or emotional causes are considered. In the majority of instances of dyspareunia, there is an original physical cause. An extreme form, in which the woman's pelvic floor musculature contracts involuntarily, is termed vaginismus. According to DSM-IV, the diagnosis of dyspareunia is made when the patient complains of recurrent or persistent genital pain before, during, or after sexual intercourse that is not caused exclusively by lack of lubrication or by vaginismus. Clinically, it is often difficult to separate dyspareunia from vaginismus, since vaginismus may occur secondary to a history of dyspareunia and even mild vaginismus is often accompanied by dyspareunia.

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