Why Does My Vagina Hurt After Sex?

If your vulva hurts after sexual intercourse (medically called dyspareunia), it’s not normal and shouldn’t be ignored. It could indicate an infection, injury or underlying issue, experts tell SELF.

It also might be a sign of scar tissue formed after a past cut, sore or surgery down there. It can also be a symptom of the medical condition vulvodynia.

Causes

There are many reasons why your vulva may feel sore after sex, and most of them are harmless. The pain of a sore vagina is not the same as the pain from a backache, and it should go away within a few hours or by the next day.

One reason why your vulva may hurt after sex is that you have an infection in or around the area. If you have thrush or sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia, gonorrhea, or herpes, they can cause soreness of the vulva. If you have these infections, you should get a prescription for antibiotics or antifungal medication from your doctor.

Another possible reason why your vulva is sore after sex is that you have vaginitis, a condition in which the muscles in the vaginal opening and the anus spasm involuntarily. This makes it difficult to have sex, and can also cause pain during sex and after it. Vaginitis can be caused by bacterial infections, or by fungal infections such as yeast infections or jock itch.

Hormonal changes are also a common cause of vaginal pain, especially when you’re pregnant or in the perimenopause. These hormonal changes may make your vulva too dry, which can lead to friction sores. Using lots of lubricant during sex can help prevent this. You can also talk to your doctor about other treatments, such as a pelvic floor physical therapist or taking a probiotic.

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Treatment

A sore vulva after sex is not usually a serious health concern, but you need to determine the root cause. You may have an infection, a yeast infection or one of several other reasons for the pain. You can usually treat most causes of vulvar discomfort at home.

A common cause of sex-related vaginal soreness is friction and pressure from sexual touch. This should subside within a few hours or days, but if it doesn’t, see your OB-GYN to rule out an infection that requires prescription treatment.

More vigorous sex or sex with an erect penis can irritate the labia minora (lips of the vulva) and the clitoris. Using extra lubricant and avoiding contact with the clitoris or genitals while having sex can help ease this pain, Levine says.

You can also use a sanitary pad that is pretreated with witch hazel to soothe irritation, Levine suggests. You can find these pads at many drugstores and natural health stores. You can also dip cotton pads in a witch hazel solution to apply directly to your vulva.

If you have an allergic reaction to sex-related products, like latex or flavored condoms, scented lubricants, or spermicides, try changing brands to see if the allergy goes away, says Levine. If you have a medical condition that is causing vaginal soreness, such as pelvic inflammatory disease or endometriosis, your doctor can diagnose the condition through a pelvic exam and prescribe medication to relieve the pain.

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Prevention

When a person becomes sexually aroused, their body naturally releases lubrication to ease the process. But if they don’t use enough lubricant or have rough sex, the friction can create tiny tears that hurt and can also make them susceptible to infection.

In addition, a person may be prone to vaginal cysts that could cause pain and itching after sex. If they do have one, a doctor can recommend treatment options like a prescription antibiotic or pelvic floor physical therapy to help relieve tension in the muscles of the vulva.

Another factor that can lead to painful sex is a sexually transmitted disease or infection (STI). Common STIs that could cause a burning feeling after sex include chlamydia, gonorrhoea, herpes and trichomoniasis. Visiting a sexual health clinic and getting a full screening is crucial to ensure that these diseases are treated quickly and that the person does not pass them on to their sexual partners.

It’s also important to avoid putting any creams, lotions, or soaps in the vagina. The area is self-cleaning and made up of millions of good bacteria that keep it healthy, so introducing any product can disrupt the balance. Instead, people should use lubricant, practice safe sex by using condoms, and speak openly with their sexual partner about what works or doesn’t work for them.

Getting Help

When it comes to vaginal pain, it’s important not to ignore it. And it’s also important to get care from a healthcare provider who takes your symptoms seriously and treats them with respect. Some types of pain can be mild or go away on their own, while others may need medication, physical therapy, or surgery to treat a condition such as vulvodynia or endometriosis.

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The most common reason you might feel sore after sex is that the rougher, more vigorous sex you had involved rubbing against the tissues of your vulva. You might also feel sore after sex if you’re not using enough lubrication or if you’re having an STI.

If you’re experiencing a lot of pain in your vulva after sex, try applying a cold compress (but don’t shoot ice cubes down there!). You can also soak in a tub with Epsom salt, which helps heal the vulva, soothe pain, and reduce inflammation. Just make sure the epsom salt is plain and unscented, as other scents can mess with your vulva’s pH and cause more irritation.

Finally, you can take a low dose of over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or naproxen to help with the pain. But make sure to follow the instructions on the label, and don’t exceed the recommended dosage. You can also use a topical anesthetic such as lidocaine gel (but be careful with this, and talk to your doctor before you apply it). This works by blocking the nerve receptors that cause pain.

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