6 Reasons Your Vagina Feels Sore After Sex and What to Do About It

When it comes to bodily pains, having a sore vagina ranks right up there with having your wisdom teeth pulled. OK, maybe not, but it’s really uncomfortable. And contrary to what you might believe, sex isn't supposed to be painful (and by the way, we’re not talking about consensual pain during sex—we mean the kind of sex that hurts when you don’t want it to). While many people enjoy rough sex that causes some level of discomfort, under most circumstances, your vagina shouldn’t hurt after sex—or during. So if an intense romp has you waddling (let's be real, that's the accurate and extremely unsexy way to describe it), you should probably have a conversation with your partner or your gynecologist (or both, TBH).

That said, sometimes sex does hurt and it results in an comfortably sore vagina. If that happens, that doesn't mean you need to feel ashamed or dysfunctional. It also doesn't mean you have to put up with painful sex for the rest of your life. There are plenty of reasons your vagina hurts after sex, and six of the most common culprits are explained below.

If you take nothing else away from this article, remember this: If intercourse is hurting you, talk to your gynecologist. Work with your doctor to find out why, because intercourse should feel comfortable, pleasurable, and pain-free. (Don't force yourself to put up with anything less!) This article is a great starting point that can help you understand what might be going on, but it should never replace an honest conversation with a specialist.

1. There wasn't enough lubrication.

One of the most common causes of pain during or after intercourse that can lead to a sore vagina is inadequate lubrication. (Take notes, because this one's gonna come up a couple of times.) Everyone produces different amounts of natural lubrication, and there are plenty of reasons why—age, birth control, and some medications, just to name a few.

When your vagina isn't properly lubricated during sex, the friction can cause tiny tears in your skin. These tears can make you more prone to infection, and they can also make your vagina hurt after sex.

How to feel better now: Idries Abdur-Rahman, M.D., ob/gyn at Vista Physician Group, recommends putting a little lube in your vagina—even after sex. He likens it to putting lotion on your skin when it's feeling particularly dry; it's not too late to moisturize your skin, and it can actually have a soothing effect. That said, you'll want to stay away from any lubricant with alcohol in it. Check the ingredients carefully to make sure your attempts to soothe won't end up stinging the tears in your skin.

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How to prevent pain in the future: For starters, make sure you're taking enough time for foreplay and using sufficient amounts of lube. These are easy steps to take to give your vagina a chance to produce more natural lubrication—and to supplement that natural lubricant as you see fit. From there, you'll want to talk to your gynecologist about what's going on. Like I said, there are plenty of reasons you might not be producing a lot of natural lubrication, and your gynecologist can help you figure out what your options are.

2. You partner is seriously well-endowed.

If your partner's penis, hands, or the dildo they're using is quite big, it might actually be hitting your cervix during penetration, Abdur-Rahman says. Needless to say, that does not feel great. According to Abdur-Rahman, this pain might feel like menstrual cramps.

How to feel better now: Abdur-Rahman says your best bet is a warm bath, heating pad, or over-the-counter pain reliever (like Motrin or Ibuprofen). All of these things have anti-inflammatory effects, which can relieve some of the pain. In addition to that, just give it time. It shouldn't take too long for the pain to subside, and if it does, talk to your doctor.

How to prevent pain in the future: Foreplay is a great first step. According to Abdur-Rahman, the vagina expands (becoming larger, longer, and wider) during foreplay, which allows for deeper, more comfortable penetration. Foreplay also increases lubrication, which will make penetration a little easier. Adding lube as needed will also help.

From there, you should be thoughtful about your positioning. Abdur-Rahman says any position that puts the vagina owner in control of the penetration is a safe bet. Think: you on top. Avoid positions that maximize penetration—like doggy style or anything where the vagina owner's legs are in the air. Those positions are more likely to lead to a sore vagina.

Finally, take your time. Be slow and gentle, and communicate with your partner about any discomfort you experience. And if you're using a dildo, consider sizing down.

3. The sex you had was super rough or fast.

Friction can be great! It often is! But too much friction can definitely make your vagina hurt after sex, mostly likely because there wasn’t enough lubrication.

How to feel better now: If your vulva (or the opening to your vagina) really hurts or is swollen after sex, Abdur-Rahman says you can try putting an ice cube or two in a thick washcloth or in a plastic bag and resting that on the outside of your underwear for 10-15 minutes. Don't put the ice inside your vagina—that will only irritate it more. Again, give it time, and talk to your doctor if you still have a sore vagina after a few days.

How to prevent pain in the future: Take whatever steps you can to ensure adequate lubrication. Foreplay is a great way to give the vagina time to warm up, and lube helps, too. It's also important to take things slow—at least at first. Start gently and slowly, and then transition into rougher, faster sex (assuming that's what you're into).

4. You're sensitive to latex.

Some people are allergic (or sensitive) to latex. If you're one of these people and you've been using latex condoms, you might end up irritating your vagina, Miriam Greene, M.D., ob/gyn at NYU Langone Health, tells SELF.

How to feel better now: Placing an ice pack outside your underwear to soothe your vulva for 10-15 minutes at a time is your best bet, as well as giving it time.

How to prevent pain in the future: Talk to your gynecologist to confirm your suspicion that you're allergic or sensitive to latex (and that there's not something else going on). If you are, avoid latex condoms in the future. That doesn't mean giving up on condoms altogether—there are plenty of alternatives, like polyurethane condoms, that you can still use to prevent disease and pregnancy.

Quick note: Though polyurethane condoms are non-latex and help prevent both disease and pregnancy, they have higher slippage and breakage rates than latex condoms, according to the CDC. The female condom is also latex-free, but it's slightly less effective at preventing pregnancy than latex condoms. You can work with your gynecologist to find something that works for both you and your partner.

5. You have an infection.

If you're experiencing discomfort that goes beyond slight soreness—like itching, burning, or abnormal discharge—you might have an infection. It could be a yeast infection, bacterial vaginosis, an STI, or something else entirely, and the best course of action is talking to your gynecologist.

How to feel better now: Don't self-diagnose or self-treat; go to the doctor, Abdur-Rahman says. Depending on the infection, you might need prescription medication. So the sooner you can make it into your gynecologist's office, the better.

How to prevent it in the future: Preventive methods are going to vary a lot depending on the kind of infection, and you can talk to your gynecologist to get their specific advice on what steps you can take in the future. That said, there are a few good rules of thumb. For one thing, use a condom. As you already know, condoms can help protect you from STIs. A second tip: Pee after sex to decrease your risk of getting a UTI. And finally, avoid douching. Douches can disrupt your vaginal pH balance, which can make you more susceptible to infection, according to Abdur-Rahman. And if your vagina is really sore, try putting a cold washcloth on your vulva for a bit if that's soothing.

6. You have a medical condition.

If you're frequently in pain during or after sex, you may have a medical condition such as:

  • Endometriosis: This happens when your uterine lining grows outside your uterus instead of inside it, according to the Mayo Clinic. Usually, it will grow on your ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the tissue lining your pelvis, (In rare cases, it can spread beyond the pelvic area to your abdomen or lungs.)
  • Uterine fibroids: These are benign (not cancerous) growths that develop in and on the uterus, according to The American College of Gynecologists and Obstetricians (ACOG).
  • Vulvodynia: This is chronic vaginal pain that doesn’t have a clear cause and lasts for at least three months, according to the Mayo Clinic. Although many people don’t talk about it, vulvodynia is actually pretty common. In addition to a sore vagina, symptoms include burning, stinging, rawness, and painful sex. The pain might be constant or occasional, and you may only feel it when the area is touched—aka, after sex.
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID): This happens when sexually transmitted bacteria spread from your vagina to other reproductive organs (including your uterus, fallopian tubes or ovaries) and cause an infection, according to the Mayo Clinic.
  • Vaginismus: This is when your vaginal muscles squeeze or spasm involuntarily, making penetration (whether it’s from your partner or a tampon) painful, per the Mayo Clinic.

Painful sex could also be a sign of a retroverted uterus, cystitis (usually a UTI), irritable bowel syndrome, hemorrhoids and ovarian cysts, according to the Mayo Clinic.

How to feel better now: Schedule an appointment with your gynecologist.

How to prevent it in the future: Talk to your gynecologist about what exactly your pain feels like and their advice for the best way to minimize pain during intercourse. Depending on your condition, some positions may be more comfortable than others, and your care provider can help you figure out what works best for you.

Related:

https://www.self.com/story/sore-vagina-after-sex, GO TO SAUBIO DIGITAL FOR MORE ANSWERS AND INFORMATION ON ANY TOPIC

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