Meet Sally*, a 20 year-old woman with Genito-Pelvic Penetration/Pain Disorder or GPPPD. (*Sally is a fictional character based on a typical presentation). This condition causes persistent or recurrent pain in her pelvic region during daily activities. Here are six common signs of GPPPD:


  1. Pain with Tampons:

For Sally, using tampons has always been a painful experience, and some days it is physically impossible. This has led to anxiety and avoidance of tampon use altogether.


  1. Fear of Pain:

Sally's fear of pain overwhelms her with anxiety, tension, and anticipatory distress before engaging in sexual activities or undergoing gynaecological examinations.  She is beginning to avoid intimate relationships. 


  1. Pain with Intercourse:

Dyspareunia, or pain during sexual intercourse, adds to Sally's distress. The pain she feels ranges from a dull ache to sharp and intense stabs.


  1. Painful Pap Smears:

Sally finds routine gynaecological examinations, like Pap smears, painful. The physical pressure applied during a pelvic exam triggers pelvic pain and distress. 


  1. Feeling of a Barrier:

Sometimes Sally experiences the sensation of a physical barrier, or wall of muscle, blocking the way when trying to use a tampon or attempting sex. 


  1. Emotional Distress and Impairment:

Beyond the physical symptoms, GPPPD takes a toll on Sally's emotional well-being. Coping with chronic pain, fear, and avoidance behaviours leads to increased levels of anxiety, depression, and feelings of isolation. Sally's daily activities, work, and relationships are disrupted, and it’s impacting her overall quality of life.


Recognising the signs of Genito-Pelvic Penetration/Pain Disorder (GPPPD) is vital for early detection and intervention. If you or someone you know experiences pain like this, seeking professional help from healthcare providers specialising in sexual health is crucial. GPPPD is a medical condition that can be effectively treated through a multidisciplinary approach, involving physiotherapy, psychology, and gynaecology services. By working closely with healthcare professionals experienced in GPPPD, individuals can access tailored treatment plans, and learn coping strategies. You've got this!


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