Most females experience pain during or after sex at least once in their lifetime. In some cases, it can be due to vigorous sex while in some it may be a symptom of an underlying medical condition. It is important for the female to understand what is the cause of vaginal pain after sex and get the best treatment for the condition.
If a female experiences pain in the vagina or vulva after sexual penetration, there can be several reasons why it could be happening. A female can treat or prevent most causes on her own. But rarely, the pain can be a sign of an emergency. Several issues can be responsible for pain or soreness in the vagina after sex, including-
Lack of lubrication
When the female is aroused, her body releases natural lubrication. But sometimes, the body’s natural lubrication is not enough. If her sexual arousal is low or there is not enough foreplay, the female may experience more friction than normal during sex, which can result in tiny (actually microscopic) cuts or tears in the vagina, which can be painful and discomforting. In some cases, it can also lead to infection.
Vigorous or prolonged sex
If sexual penetration is a little rough, the female may feel pain or discomfort, both in her vagina and around the vulva. The friction and extra pressure from vigorous intercourse can inflame the sensitive vaginal tissues, causing pain in the vagina after sex.
Allergic reaction to condoms or lubricants
A female may have an allergic reaction to a latex condom or lubricant, which could result in genital irritation and pain in the vagina and vulva. The pain may extend into the vaginal canal in case of intercourse after an allergic reaction.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
Vaginal pain during and after sex is often the first symptom of an STI such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, or genital herpes. In case you experience unexplained, sudden vaginal pain after sex, consult your gynecologist to get yourself tested for an STI.
Pain in the vulva or vagina after sexual intercourse is one of the more common signs of a vaginal yeast infection. Other symptoms of a yeast infection include-
- Vaginal itching
- Pain during urination
Visit your gynecologist if you notice the above-mentioned symptoms. An untreated yeast infection can lead to severe complications in the future.
Urinary tract infection (UTI)
A UTI can cause pain in the vagina, vulva, and pelvis. If a female has a UTI when she has sexual intercourse, she may experience additional pain, irritation, and inflammation in the vagina and vulva.
Bartholin’s cysts are tender, fluid-filled bumps on one side of the vaginal opening. These cysts are mostly benign in nature and are not a major threat to the female’s health. However, they may cause painful symptoms. Sexual intercourse can irritate the Bartholin’s cysts and the tissues around them, which can cause unexpected pain in the vagina and vulva.
Hormone levels in the female’s body change dramatically with menopause. With fewer estrogen levels, the female’s body produces less of its own natural lubricant. Additionally, tissues in the vagina may also get drier and thinner, which can make sex more uncomfortable and painful. During and after menopause, the female may also have pain in the vagina or vulva after sex.
Changes in the vagina’s natural bacteria balance can result in inflammation. This condition, known as vaginitis, can also cause vaginal itching and discharge. The female may have pain in the vagina or labia even apart from sexual touch. Sexual activity can increase the pain or make it more noticeable.
Endometriosis is the condition when the endometrium, the uterine lining overgrows elsewhere in the pelvis like on ovaries, fallopian tubes or on the tissue lining the pelvis.
Pain during and after sex and painful periods are common symptoms of endometriosis. The female may feel pain deeper in the body, like in the pelvis or upper vagina.
Uterine fibroids are benign growths that can develop on or in the uterus. When they increase in size, it can be very painful. If a female has uterine fibroids, she may also experience pain in the pelvis after sexual activity.
Vaginismus is the condition that causes muscles in and around the vagina and vulva to contract rapidly and tightly on its own. This blocks and shuts off the vagina and can make penetration nearly impossible, and if possible, then very painful and uncomfortable. If the female is able to have sex in this condition, the result might be severe pain in the vagina after sexual activity.
Birth control pills suppress the body’s natural hormone levels, which can make the vaginal tissues thinner and drier.
If the female does not allow for proper natural lubrication (like with foreplay) or does not use a lubricant, she may experience pain due to friction after sexual activity.
Tight pelvic floor muscles
Tight pelvic floor muscles can cause pain and severe discomfort after sexual intercourse. Pelvic floor muscles may tighten due to the following-
- Poor body posture
- Certain physical activities, like cycling
- A naturally tighter muscle structure in and around the pelvis
Reverse Kegels can be helpful for the female. Instead of contracting and holding the muscles, reverse Kegels can work on relaxing them.
When to see your gynecologist
If the pain stays longer than a day or two, or you have bleeding or unusual vaginal discharge, see your gynecologist provider.
The gynecologist can make a diagnosis and suggest the right treatment. Timely treatment can prevent complications in the future.