PURPOSE: Many young women suffer from pain and discomfort during sexual intercourse, and an increasing number of them seek help for their problems. It seems that some young women continue to have sexual intercourse despite pain. However, their motives are unclear. METHODS: A total of 16 women, aged 14 to 20 years, with variable degrees of coital pain were selected at a youth center in a city in southeastern Sweden, to explore why they continued to have sexual intercourse despite pain. The women participated in audiotaped qualitative individual interviews, which were analyzed using the constant comparative method from grounded theory. RESULTS: During the analysis we identified the core category striving to be affirmed in their image of an ideal woman and the categories resignation, sacrifice, and feeling guilt. The perceived ideal women had several distinct characteristics, such as willingness to have sexual intercourse, being perceptive of their partner's sexual needs, and being able to satisfy their partners. Having sexual intercourse per se was considered to be an affirmation of being a normal woman, irrespective of pain or discomfort. CONCLUSIONS: These young women's focus on a constructed ideal explains why they continue to have sexual intercourse despite pain. Greater awareness of these beliefs among gynecologists, sexologists, and other healthcare professionals involved in the management of young women with coital pain would be beneficial.