Painful Sex Therapy

Therapy for Painful Sex, Provoked Vestibulodynia, Lichen Sclerosus, Dyspareunia, Pelvic Floor Dysfunction and More


Painful Sex Impacts 8-14% of Women

Painful sex hurts! And it disrupts the sex lives of many women (and their partners), leaving them feeling broken or alone. But it doesn’t have to be this way!

Importantly, the pain is not just in your head. Your pain is real. And we can help.

A multidisciplinary approach that includes psychotherapy has been shown to help women move past genital pain and achieve the pleasure they deserve.

What is Painful Sex?

Painful sex, also known as provoked vestibulodynia (PVD), vulvodynia, or dyspareunia, is defined as a consistent or recurring genital pain that occurs right before, during, or after intercourse.

There are many potential causes of painful sex, ranging from lack of lubrication to scarring from pelvic surgery, stress, trauma, and certain illnesses like endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, uterine prolapse, interstitial cystitis, irritable bowel syndrome, pelvic floor dysfunction, adenomyosis, hemorrhoids, and ovarian cysts. Conditions like lichens sclerosus or lichen planus can also cause painful sex if the skin becomes too thin and is irritated or painful.

The good news is that with the right treatment plan, painful sex can become a thing of the past.

Painful Sex Doesn’t Have to Be a Permanent Experience

This may come as a surprise to many women, but sex is not supposed to hurt.

Painful sex can be a truly unsettling and alienating experience. It can strain intimacy and disrupt a woman’s confidence and sense of self.

If you are struggling with painful sex, you’re not alone. Many women experience pain and discomfort during intercourse, leading to a lack of sexual satisfaction and even relationship issues.

But you do not need to accept that painful sex is your normal.

Through holistic treatment options, you can address the reasons for your pain and restore your confidence, comfort, and pleasure in the bedroom.

Tri Health Clinic Painful Sex Services

Painful sex is no one’s fault, especially not yours, but getting past it requires understanding who you are and how you think and feel about life, sex, your relationships, and the world around you.

At the Tri Health Clinic, we understand that painful sex may be more than a physical condition which is why we take a holistic approach to sex therapy, addressing any mental, emotional, and relationship factors that can be disrupting your sexual health, pleasure, and well-being. But it’s important to note that the pain is not all in your head! 

All our treatments are grounded on four principles of education, self-knowledge, changing behaviours, and tracking changes. Through education, we focus on identifying and working through sexual myths that may hold you back from enjoying your sex life again without worry or pain.

There are many reasons why painful sex may occur, and we approach each therapy session based on your needs. Painful sex is usually a combination of physical issues (something called central sensitization), as well as cognitive and emotional factors (for example, a great deal of worry and concern about the pain, or perhaps avoidance of activities that you used to love because you are afraid that it might make your pain worse). Whatever the causes, we will help you better understand what is happening, support you in taking control of your pain, and lead you on the path to happier sex.

Through our progress tracking, you’ll be able to see how far you’ve come and feel hope for more progress in the future without being derailed. Resolving painful sex doesn’t happen overnight. With a psychotherapy partner here at Tri Health Clinic, you’ll feel better knowing you have strong support staff and a sexual health professional working alongside you.

Painful Sex


Here’s How the Tri Health Clinic Can Help Painful Sex

  • We can help you identify the potential reasons for painful sex, helping you work past it in a comforting and judgment-free environment.
  • We approach all issues from a position of strength, identifying your unique attributes and using them to help you address areas where you feel less confident so that you can work through the issue.
  • We can work with you and your partner to address any concerns about the relationship that may impact your sexual experiences.
  • We can help you identify and address past trauma, belief systems, or attitudes that may no longer serve you.

Download the Tri Health Clinic's Free eBook

Discover the key to optimal sexual health with our free ebook! Packed with expert advice and practical tips, this comprehensive guide will empower you to take control of your sexual well-being. Download now and embark on a journey towards a fulfilling and vibrant intimate life.

The Sexual Response Cycle Handout

All the information from our eBook compressed into a bite-sized version.

Download the Tri Health Clinic's Free Sensate Focus Guide:

Sensate Focus is a therapeutic technique that promotes intimacy and connection by emphasizing non-sexual touch and exploration, allowing couples to enhance their sensual experiences and deepen their emotional bond. Download it directly here.


#ItsNotInYourHead A campaign for a condition called Provoked Vestibulodynia (PVD), initiated by Dr. Lori Brotto

Sex Therapy and Lichen Sclerosus: How This Changed my Life

Book Recommendations

Effective Treatment of Women’s Pelvic and Sexual Pain Disorders: Healing the Body and Mind During the #MeToo Era

This book presents a comprehensive overview of pelvic and sexual pain disorders in women and equips therapists to treat these issues in a culturally sensitive way, examining the link between unwanted sexual experiences and the development of sexual pain in later life.

Drawing on the wealth of recent research acknowledging the increased risk of developing a pelvic/sexual pain disorder in women who have experienced sexual trauma, Heather Lauren Davidson offers a much-needed resource for professionals within the essential context of the #MeToo movement. Chapters address a range of topics including types of sexual pain disorders, disparities in the mental health system that affect women’s access to treatment, how to establish treatment goals for individuals and couples, and effective relapse prevention plans. Illustrated throughout by vignettes and case studies, the book addresses a lack of knowledge in assessing and treating the experiences of these women and explores in depth how they face complex difficulties in accessing diagnosis and treatment.

Guided by culturally competent assessment and the use of evidence-based treatment techniques, clinicians will learn to effectively navigate the treatment of women presenting with pelvic/sexual pain disorders and sexual trauma.

Desire: Desire: An Inclusive Guide to Navigating Libido Differences in Relationships

A radically inclusive, sex-positive guide to managing the inevitable libido differences in our relationships, authored by two certified sex therapists who are passionate about good sex.

Desire invites readers of all ages, genders, sexual orientations, and relationship structures to shed the shame and misinformation that surround the topic of sex and instead learn from 2 certified sex therapists about how libido really works. Desire differences are one of the most common relationship issues, yet, with fewer than 1,100 certified sex therapists in the country, it can be difficult to find help. This essential book breaks the mold of the sex self-help genre, which typically focuses only on cisgender women.

A Headache in the Pelvis, a New Expanded 6th Edition: A New Understanding and Treatment for Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndromes

This groundbreaking book describes the Wise-Anderson Protocol for muscle-related pelvic pain in men and women, a new and revolutionary treatment developed at Stanford University. The Wise-Anderson Protocol involves the treatment of muscle-related pelvic pain and dysfunction, variously diagnosed as prostatitis, chronic pelvic pain syndrome, pelvic floor dysfunction, pelvic floor myalgia, interstitial cystitis, urethral syndrome, levator ani syndrome, among other related diagnoses affecting some twenty million men and women in the United States. Specifically, The 6th edition of A Headache in the Pelvis adds new research recently published in the Journal of Urology done by the Wise-Anderson team describing the relationship of painful trigger points that refer and re-create specific symptoms of pelvic pain, new research done at Stanford on the relationship between early morning anxiety and those with pelvic pain, and firsthand stories from women who have undergone the Wise-Anderson Protocol, along with other new sections.

Better Sex through Mindfulness: How Women Can Cultivate Desire

Find out how mindfulness is the key to cultivating desire, increasing sexual pleasure, and finding joy in intimacy.

Studies show that approximately half of all women experience some kind of sexual difficulty at one point in their lives, with lack of interest in sex being by far the most common?and the most distressing. And when sex suffers, so do all other areas of life.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. In Better Sex through Mindfulness, acclaimed psychologist and sex researcher Lori A. Brotto offers a revolutionary approach to improving desire, arousal, and satisfaction inside?and outside of?the bedroom. A pioneer in the use of mindfulness for treating sexual difficulties, Brotto has helped hundreds of women cultivate more exciting, fulfilling sexual experiences.

In this accessible, relatable book, she explores the various reasons for sexual problems, such as stress and incessant multitasking, and tells the stories of many of the women she has treated over the years. She also provides easy, effective exercises that readers can do on their own to increase desire and sexual enjoyment, whether their goal is to overcome a sexual difficulty or simply give their love life a boost. 

Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life:

An essential exploration of why and how women’s sexuality works—based on groundbreaking research and brain science—that will radically transform your sex life into one filled with confidence and joy.

Researchers have spent the last decade trying to develop a “pink pill” for women to function like Viagra does for men. So where is it? Well, for reasons this book makes crystal clear, that pill will never be the answer—but as a result of the research that’s gone into it, scientists in the last few years have learned more about how women’s sexuality works than we ever thought possible, and Come as You Are explains it all. 

Guide To Getting It On

“You’ve never read a manual as warm, friendly, liberating, thorough, and potentially sex-life-changing as the Guide To Getting It On! Neither had anyone in our office―which may be why our copies keep disappearing.” ― Oprah Magazine

“Finally. A book about sex you’ll actually want to read!” ― Playboy

Sensate focus in sex therapy

Sensate Focus in Sex Therapy: The Illustrated Manual is an illustrated manual that provides health professionals with specific information on the use of the structured touching opportunities used regularly by Sexologists to address their clients’ sexual difficulties (Sensate Focus 1) and enhance intimate relationships (Sensate Focus 2). This book is the only one to: vividly describe and illustrate the specific steps of, activities involved in, and positions associated with Sensate Focus; emphasize the purpose of Sensate Focus as a mindfulness-based practice; and distinguish between the purposes of Sensate Focus 1 and Sensate Focus 2.

Through the use of artful drawings and descriptive text, this manual engages mental health and medical professionals and their clients by appealing to both the visual and the analytical. It discusses how modifications to Sensate Focus can be applied to diverse populations, such as LGBTQ clients, the elderly, the disabled, trauma survivors, and those with challenges such as Autism Spectrum, anxiety, and depression. The book also offers suggestions for dealing with common client difficulties such as avoidance, confusion, and goal directed attitudes. This comprehensive approach to Sensate Focus will remind readers of the beauty and power of touch while offering suggestions for moving from avoidance to sensory transcendence. 

These resources are intended as a compliment to therapy under the guidance of a trained sex therapist.


Contact us today to book a complimentary consultation with our Intake Coordinator to match you to the best therapist for your needs.

We provide science-based treatment for painful sex to all of Ontario, including Windsor, London, Guelph, Waterloo, Kitchener, Hamilton, Burlington, Oakville, Mississauga, Brampton, Toronto, Vaughan, Richmond Hill, Markham, Oshawa, Brockville, Kingston, Ottawa, and beyond.

Don’t let painful sex hold you back any longer! Contact us today for a free consultation and discover how we can help make enjoyable sex possible again.



Suite 414, 797 Princess Street, Kingston ON

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