What Causes Vagina Pain After Sex?

Vaginal Pain After Sexual Intercourse

If you experience pain in your vaginal area after intercourse, it’s important to understand where the pain is coming from so you can identify the potential cause and the best treatment.

The vagina is a long, muscular canal that runs from the vaginal opening to the cervix.

It includes the vulva labia, clitoris, vaginal opening, and urethral opening. The labia are the lips or folds of the skin around the vaginal opening.

It’s important to learn why your vaginal area may feel sore after sexual activity.

If you experience pain in your vagina or vulva after sexual penetration, there are several reasons why this is happening. You can treat or prevent most causes. Rarely, pain can be a sign of an emergency.

Causes of Pain in the Vaginal Area After Sex

Various problems can be the cause of vaginal pain after sexual penetration. These reasons include:

Lack of lubricant

When you are stimulated for sex, your body makes natural lubrication with the secretions secreted from the vaginal wall. But sometimes this lubrication is not enough. If sexual arousal is low or if you move fast enough, you may not be able to get enough lubrication and therefore you may experience a little more friction than usual.

This friction can cause small, microscopic tears in the vagina that can cause pain and discomfort. In some cases, it can even lead to infection.

prolonged or rough sex

If sexual penetration gets a little rough, you may experience some pain or discomfort in both your vagina and vulva. Friction and extra pressure can damage delicate tissue.

You may also experience additional pain if you or your partner has used a finger, sex toy, or other object during sexual activity.

Depending on the material of the sex toy, some toys may require extra lubrication to reduce friction. Not using sex toys properly can also cause pain after sexual activity.

Allergic reaction to condoms, lubricants, or other products

An allergic reaction to a latex condom, lubricant, or other product you bring into the bedroom can cause pain below. It can also cause genital irritation in the vulva.

sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

Vaginal pain during sex may be the first sign of an STI, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, or genital herpes.

If you haven’t been tested, consider getting an STI scan to rule out infections. If your partner has not been tested, ask them to screen as well. Treatment for both of you is vital to prevent future re-infections.

fungal infection

Pain after sexual activity in the vulva or vagina is one of the more common symptoms of a yeast infection. Other symptoms include:

  • vaginal itching
  • swelling
  • pain when urinating
  • urinary tract infection (UTI)

A urinary tract urination can cause more than just pain when urinating. It can also cause pain in your vaginal area and pelvis.

If you have a urinary tract infection during sexual intercourse, you may experience additional irritation and inflammation.

Frequent Change of Sexual Partner or First Relationship with a Sexual Partner

Also, changing sexual partners too often can cause vaginal itching and pain. Or, itching and pain may be observed when having intercourse with a sexual partner for the first time.

The reason for this is that the natural balance of the flora of your vaginal area changes as a result of encountering the flora of your new partner. Vaginitis infections, which are frequently observed in women who change partners frequently, are also based on this basis.

Bartholin’s cyst

Two Bartholin glands sit on either side of the vaginal opening. They provide natural lubrication and lubrication to the vagina.

Sometimes these cysts or the channels that move the fluid can become blocked. This causes fluid-filled bumps on one side of the vaginal opening.

Sexual activity can irritate Bartholin’s cysts and surrounding tissues, causing unexpected pain.

Menopause

Before and during menopause, hormone levels in the body change dramatically. With less estrogen, the body produces less of its own natural lubricant.

Also, the tissue in the vagina becomes drier and thinner. This can make penetration sex more uncomfortable, or even painful.

vaginitis

A change in the natural bacterial balance of the vagina can cause inflammation. This condition, called vaginitis, can also cause itching and discharge.

There may be pain in the vagina or labia even without sexual intercourse. Sexual activity can increase it or make it more pronounced.

vulvar pain

Sexual intercourse can cause pain in the vulva due to both friction and pressure. If the pain is present before starting sexual activity, it may be a sign of an underlying condition such as vulvar ulcers.

Consult a healthcare professional if vulvar irritation persists beyond a few hours or days. You may have a more serious problem, such as vulvodynia.

Chronic Vulvar Pain (Vulvodynia)

Vulvodynia is vulvar pain that lasts for at least 3 months. It is not clear what causes this condition, but it is not uncommon.

In addition to pain after sexual activity, you may experience throbbing, burning or stinging in the vaginal area. In severe cases, the sensitivity is so great that it is almost impossible to put on clothes or do daily chores.

Endometriosis

Endometriosis occurs when the uterine lining grows elsewhere in the pelvis. It can grow in the ovaries or fallopian tubes. It can even grow on the tissue lining the pelvis.

Pain during sexual intercourse and painful periods are common symptoms of endometriosis. This pain may be felt deeper in the body, such as in the pelvis or upper vagina.

uterine fibroids

Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths that can develop on or inside the uterus. When they are large, they can be quite painful. If you have uterine fibroids, you may experience pain in your pelvis after sexual activity.

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

PID is a bacterial infection. Some bacteria that cause STIs, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia, can cause PID. Once you have PID, the infection can spread to:

  • uterus
  • fallopian tubes
  • neck
  • ovaries

PID can cause:

  • pain in the pelvis
  • painful intercourse
  • painful urination
  • bleeding
  • vaginismus

Vaginismus causes spontaneous tight contraction of the vagina and surrounding muscles and vaginal opening. This closes the vagina and can be uncomfortable, if not impossible, during sex.

If you are able to have intercourse, the result may be pain in the vagina and around the vaginal opening after sexual activity.

Medicines

Birth control suppresses natural hormone levels. It can make the tissues in the vagina thinner and drier.

If you don’t allow proper natural lubrication (the answer is more foreplay) or don’t use lube, you may experience pain from friction after sexual activity.

tight pelvic floor muscles

Tight pelvic floor muscles can make sexual intercourse uncomfortable. Pelvic floor muscles may tighten as a result of:

  • bad posture
  • certain types of physical activity, such as cycling, have a naturally tighter musculature in and around the pelvis

Inverted Kegels can help in this situation. Instead of contracting and holding muscles to build strength, it may take work to relax them

swollen labia after sex

Swelling of the labia may occur after sexual activity, but this is generally not a problem. After all, these tissues naturally swell with stimulation as blood and fluids rush to the area.

But if you’re experiencing pain in addition to this swelling, it could be said to be some irritation from friction and pressure. This pain and swelling is expected to end within a few hours or the next day.

If the swollen labia persists or you begin to experience other symptoms such as:

  • painful urination
  • throbbing
  • burning

These could be signs of an infection that requires medication.

What is the Treatment for Vaginal Pain After Sex?

You can treat some of these conditions at home. Others need help from a healthcare professional.

ice pack

Pain from friction or pressure should go away on its own within a few hours. Meanwhile, an ice pack can help relieve vulvar discomfort.

Keep the ice pack in place for 5 to 10 minutes at a time. Do not put the ice pack directly on the vulva; Let it act on underwear or a cloth. Do not insert the ice pack into your vagina, either. You can damage your vagina.

If using an ice pack is uncomfortable or painful, stop and consult a healthcare professional.

antibiotics

Antibiotics can treat infections such as UTI, PID, and some STIs. Some over-the-counter natural treatments are also available for yeast infections. However, it is recommended that you seek diagnosis and recommended treatment from a healthcare professional before self-medicating.

hormonal therapy

Hormone replacement therapy may benefit some people. This allows the body to gradually adapt to the hormone changes that result, for example, from menopause. It can also help restore some natural lubrication and reduce painful sexual penetration.

Health care providers may recommend hormonal birth control to people with endometriosis. This can stop painful events.

Surgical intervention

If you have a Bartholin’s cyst or uterine fibroid, an obstetrician may recommend surgery. In the case of a cyst, drainage may be attempted before removing the gland.

Lubricants (Lubricant-Oils)

If you want help reducing friction, lubricate your vagina with lubricants. Opt for water-based lubricants as they are less likely to irritate the sensitive skin of the vagina and vulva.

Oil-based lubricants can break down the material of the condom, causing it to tear.

If you start to feel any pain or burning, use lubricant again. When it comes to lubricant, more is almost always good.

Avoid allergenic products

If you suspect you are allergic to the ingredients in the condoms or sex toys you use, try new ones. Polyurethane condoms are available. Just remember that they are not as strong as latex.

If lubrication makes the vulva sensitive, don’t do it. Opt for synthetic materials that are less likely to cause irritation and pain.

Pelvic floor muscle exercise

Reverse Kegels can help relax your pelvic floor muscles. Not only does this reduce pain after intercourse, it can also make sexual penetration more enjoyable from the start.

Psychotherapy

Some people with a vagina may experience anxiety after painful sexual penetration. This may prevent them from experiencing sexual pleasure or relaxing during intercourse.

In this case, sex therapy can help them overcome and manage their anxiety.

When to See a Doctor for Vaginal Pain After Sex?

If the pain lasts longer than a day or two, or if you experience bleeding or unusual discharge, contact a healthcare professional.

They can diagnose and provide the right treatment for you. Earlier treatment may prevent further complications.

Brief Summary

Sexual penetration should never be painful. You are experiencing post-sex pain and talk to a healthcare professional about the pain you are experiencing, even if it goes away in a day or two on follow-up.

Together, you can address the problem that is causing the pain and prevent it from happening.

Healthline, What Causes a Sore Vaginal Area After Sex?, 2019

References

  • Sorensen J, et al. (2018). Evaluation and treatment of female sexual pain: A clinical review. DOI:
    10.7759/2Fcureus.2379
  • Vaginal and vulvar cancers: What are the symptoms? (2017).
    cdc.gov/cancer/vagvulv/basic_info/symptoms.htm
  • vaginal infections. (2014).
    girlshealth.gov/body/reproductive/infections.html
  • When sex is painful. (2017).
    acog.org/Patients/FAQs/When-Sex-Is-Painful?IsMobileSet=false
  • Why does sex hurt? (2018).
    nhs.uk/common-health-questions/sexual-health/why-does-sex-hurt/
  • Your sexual health. (2019).
    acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Your-Sexual-Health?IsMobileSet=false

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