| Tara Langdale

Why Does My Vagina Hurt After Sex?

Is your vaginal pain getting in the way of your sex life? 

There may be an underlying medical issue that is interfering with your sexual experiences. Dyspareunia is a term describing painful intercourse, where constant genital pain occurs before, during, or after sexual intercourse (Mayo Clinic, 2021).

 

why does my vagina hurt after sex

 

Women with dyspareunia may - among other issues - have pain involving penetration, burning, and throbbing pain that lasts for hours even after sex (Mayo Clinic, 2021). 

If you are dealing with pain from sexual intercourse, then it is essential to see your physician or/and your pelvic floor physical therapist. This article will provide information on potential reasons for vaginal pain after sex, as well as some effective solutions. 

 

Causes of vaginal soreness

Check out the most common causes for vaginal soreness:


Lack of lubrication

During sexual arousal, women experience natural lubrication that helps make their sexual experiences easier and more enjoyable. However, the time that it takes for your body to become naturally lubricated can vary amongst individuals. 

Feelings of anxiety may surface if your natural lubrication is not occurring exactly when you want it to, hence why it is more convenient to use a lubricant. 

Approximately 17% of women before menopause have issues concerning vaginal dryness when engaging in sexual intercourse (Women’s Health Concern, 2020). This can occur for a number of reasons such as inadequate foreplay and or psychological issues (ex: stress) (Women’s Health Concern, 2020). Over half of post-menopausal patients suffer from conditions associated with decreased estrogen levels (Women’s Health Concern, 2020). 

Some symptoms of vaginal dryness may include (NHS, 2018): 

  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Sore vagina
  • Itchy genital area
  • Persisting urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Peeing frequently

 

Doctors typically recommend applying a water-based lubricant before engaging in sex and introducing vaginal moisturizers to treat excessive dryness (NHS, 2018). One example of a lubricant recommended by physicians is the Slippery Stuff Gel

 

lubricant for painful sex

It is a water-based and ultra-slick lubricant, which increases vaginal moisture and lubrication to enhance your sexual experiences.  

 

Tight pelvic floor muscles 

Your pelvic floor muscles are the muscles that control your bladder and bowel movements. They also help with sexual sensation and function (Peninsula Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy, 2020). 

Increased tension in the pelvic region causes the muscles to involuntarily tighten and constrict, which forcefully closes the vaginal opening as well (Peninsula Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy, 2020). Vaginismus is a condition where the muscles of the pelvic floor contract or are tight during penetration. You should see a pelvic floor physical therapist for this condition.

 

image of pelvic floor muscles

 

Symptoms such as pelvic pain, painful cramps, and spasms from this condition may prevent an individual from having penetrative sexual experiences, making sex unbearable. 

 Pelvic pain may occur throughout the vagina and bowel, persisting for days (WebMD, 2012). Generally, vaginal dilators are recommended by doctors to induce flexibility in the vagina and help relax these muscles. 

The Deluxe Neodymium Magnetic Vaginal Dilator Set can help you acquire control over your pelvic and vaginal muscles, by gradually stretching the vagina. VuVa Deluxe set pictured below.

 

These vaginal dilators cause blood flow to enter the pelvic region, which calms the involuntary spasms that occur from these tight muscles. They come in a range of different sizes. Talk to your doctor or pelvic floor therapist so they can monitor your condition and treatment. 

 

Vigorous sex and fissures

In the anticipation of being intimate, your body probably was not ready for the long and vigorous sex that it was exposed to. Fissures of the posterior fourchette can occur with intercourse. These are tiny cuts that can burn after intercourse or when you pee. These can cause pain during intercourse. Make sure to be tested for a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis that may not be presenting any of their normal symptoms, but can still be present. 

Increased friction and pressure can cause inflammation in the vaginal tissue from prolonged and vigorous sex (Women’s Health, 2021).

Additional lubrication is vital, as it decreases the friction that the vagina is exposed to. Elevated pressure and friction may cause tears in the vagina that make it more susceptible to infection (Women’s Health, 2021). All of these factors cause additional soreness and pain from engaging in sexual experiences. 

 

Vulvodynia

The vulva is a female’s genital area that also consists of the skin that surrounds the vaginal opening (NHS, 2019). When there is insistent pain in the vulva, with no known cause, it is classified as vulvodynia (NHS, 2019). The main indicator of vulvodynia is persistent pain in the vulva, despite it looking normal. The pain has been described as (NHS,2019):

  • Burning or stinging sensation
  • Throbbing or soreness 
  • Pain activated by touch, penetration, difficulty using tampon
  • Pain is constant, does not go away
  • Pain worsens from sitting

 

vulvodynia causing pain after intercourse

 

There are many more symptoms of this condition, and the pain is not always limited to the vulval area. It may spread over the entire genital area including the anus (NHS, 2019). Although the reasons for this condition are unknown, doctors believe potential causes may include (Mayo Clinic, 2021):

  • Trauma and irritation of the nerves that surround the vulvar region
  • Infections in the vagina
  • Changes in hormones
  • Weak pelvic muscles
  • Muscle spasms in the pelvic floor region
  • Connective Tissue Disorders
  • Lower Back Nerve Trauma

 

Suffering from this chronic condition can stall your sex life, negatively impact your relationships, and cause psychological issues (NHS, 2019). It is crucial to consult with a doctor to help treat your pain from vulvodynia. Some treatments a doctor might recommend include vaginal dilators and lubricants.

 

Vaginismus

When the muscles in the vagina spasm and contract involuntarily from any penetration occurring in the vagina (tampon, penis, sex toys, etc.), this is classified as vaginismus (WebMD, 2012).  This may cause tears which can make the vagina prone to infection. This may result in a woman fearing and dismissing the notion of sexual experiences (WebMD, 2012). Another reason is a hypertonic pelvic floor which can be treated by a pelvic floor physical therapist.

It is vital to consult with a medical professional to properly diagnose your condition because the symptoms associated with vaginismus rarely subside without treatment.

Although the cause of vaginismus is unknown, doctors believe that it is associated with psychological factors which include fear and anxiety towards the concept of sexual experiences (WebMD, 2012). Potential causes may result from traumas, such as sexual assault. Some treatments often include using vaginal dilators, lubricants, and counseling (Web MD, 2012). 

 

Hormone changes

Did you know that hormonal changes may cause pain from engaging in sex? Decreased estrogen levels can cause vaginal dryness and the thinning of vaginal tissues (North American Menopause Society, 2020). Both of these contribute to discomfort and increasing pain associated with sexual experiences.

Declining estrogen is the main indicator for pain during intercourse in a woman’s midlife and onwards (WebMD, 2020). When estrogen levels drop, this decreases the natural lubrication that coats the vagina during intercourse and increases the friction the vagina is exposed to (North American Menopause Society, 2020). 

This causes the vagina to become dry and tight making sexual intercourse unbearable (North American Menopause Society, 2020).

Menopause causes inflexibility of vaginal tissue which contributes to vaginal tightness (WebMD, 2020). After having sex,  burning, inflammation, and soreness in the vagina may occur (North American Menopause Society, 2020). Some tears may result in the tissues during intercourse, causing even more pain (North American Menopause Society, 2020).

Talk to your doctor about possible treatment plans. A doctor will likely recommend low-dose estrogen pills, vaginal dilators, and lubricants in the treatment plan (WebMD, 2020).  

 

Vaginal infections

In many instances, the reason for decreased sexual health is a vaginal infection (vaginitis). Examples of infection include (WebMD, 2020): 

  • Bacterial vaginosis 
  • Urinary tract infection (UTIs) 
  • Genital herpes 
  • Yeast infections 
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)  

 

Some symptoms experienced from these infections are (WebMD, 2020):

  • Itching, irritation
  • Burning, soreness
  • Inflammation
  • Abnormal discharge (cottage cheese) and odor
  • Painful sex

 

It is crucial to get tested by a doctor to diagnose any vaginitis conditions you may have.  If your infection is left untreated, it may cause sufficient damage to the reproductive organs, and worse pain, symptoms, and conditions. Symptoms are not always present when you have one of the above infections so you must demand a test sometimes from your doctor. 

 

Bartholin's cyst 

On each side of the vaginal opening, there are pea-sized glands known as Bartholin’s glands (WebMD, 2020) These glands are responsible for naturally lubricating the vagina for sex. Fluid travels through ducts to the vagina. However, if the ducts become blocked, this forms a swelling fluid-filled sac, a Bartholin cyst (WebMD, 2020). 

These cysts have the potential to grow and become noticeable as well as cause intense discomfort (NHS, 2020). Even walking, sitting, or having sex may cause pain in the vagina. Generally, sexually active women in their 20s and 30s are affected by Bartholin cysts (NHS, 2020). 

The cyst may become infected, causing a sore vagina, and additional symptoms and pain. It is important to go to an OB-GYN if you have a lump in your vagina. 

 

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) 

A possible reason for your vagina hurting after sex may be due to a sexually transmitted infection. According to John Hopkins Medicine, approximately 20 million cases of STIs occur in the United States every year (John Hopkins Medicine, 2021). 

Chlamydia, genital herpes, and gonorrhea are common STIs that are known to cause pain and vaginal irritation during sex (John Hopkins Medicine, 2021). Common symptoms of STIs include (John Hopkins Medicine, 2021): 

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Abnormal odor in the vagina and vaginal discharge
  • Pain in the lower abdomen
  • Rashes
  • Burning/difficulty when urinating
  • Painful blisters & open sores in the vagina
  • Tingling and burning sensation in legs, buttocks, and genital area

 

An STI can spread through sex and skin-to-skin contact, and it may cause changes to the vagina and painful sex (Embry Women’s Health, 2018). Visit your OB-GYN as soon as possible if you suffer from pain during sex that may indicate the presence of an STI. 

 

Allergic reaction to latex or lubricants

Are you experiencing persistent and abnormal itching in your genital area? You may be having an allergic reaction to latex condoms or a lubricant you are using. It is estimated that 1-6 % of Americans have cases of allergies to latex (CDC, 2015). 

 

latex causing painful sex

 

Symptoms of an allergic reaction in the vaginal area include (Healthline, 2019):

  • Hives 
  • Inflammation and pain 
  • Swollen bumps on the skin
  • Runny nose and congestion
  • Watery eyes
  • Itchy and scratchy throat

 

Practitioners recommend switching to a water-based lubricant, birth control, or other alternatives to replace your latex condoms. 

 

Use a lubricant that works 

It is essential to find a lubricant that works for you. Medical professionals recommend water-based lubricants as they are higher in quality and you are less prone to an allergic reaction. Lubricants are integral to your sexual functioning, especially if you suffer from a dry vagina, which may occur from depleted estrogen levels, insufficient foreplay, medications, and psychological issues.

A lubricant such as Slippery Stuff Gel moisturizes the vagina with its water-based, safe, and hygienic formula. Incorporate a lubricant in your sexual experience to make it as enjoyable and pain-free as possible. 

 

Stretch vaginal muscles with dilators 

A doctor often recommends vaginal dilators to stretch, strengthen, and relax the pelvic floor and vaginal muscles. These tube-shaped devices can increase the elasticity of the vaginal walls (MSK Cancer Center, 2021). By coming in different sizes, you can train the pelvic and vaginal muscles to be in your control again and alleviate your symptoms. 

The firmer the dilator is, the higher the quality and effectiveness. This is why dilators made of sturdy plastic, rather than soft silicone dilators, are more effective in treatment (MSK Cancer Center, 2020). VuVa Dilators are pictured below and made in the USA.

 

 

The pelvic muscles lengthen and stretch around the dilators, increasing their flexibility, and decreasing the involuntary muscle spasms and constrictions (MSK Cancer Center, 2020). 

From this method of treatment, the hypersensitivity that is present in the vagina is reduced, which is integral in making your sexual experiences enjoyable. One example of a vaginal dilator that is recommended by physicians is the VuVa Magnetic Neodymium Magnetic Vaginal dilators, which incorporate Neodymium magnets. These magnets help counteract disease and acidity by bringing fresh oxygenated blood to the vaginal region. 

 

Try ice to ease the pain  

Do you feel burning in your vagina after sex? Is it sore and are you having vaginal pain? An effective treatment to relieve your vaginal pain and symptoms after sex is to put an ice pack on your vagina (WebMD, 2021). Place the ice pack for no more than 5-10 minutes at a time (Healthline, 2019). 

Keep your underwear on or place a washcloth between your vagina and the icepack. Do not place the icepack directly on the vulva, nor should you insert the icepack into your vagina (Healthline, 2019). 

It is always best to consult a medical practitioner when you are experiencing pain that lasts for more than a couple of hours.

 

Do you need to order vaginal dilators so you can start your pelvic floor therapy process? Made in the USA. Visit www.vuvatech.com 

 

VuVa Helpful Links:

How do Neodymium Vaginal Dilators work? 

7 Reasons for a Tight Vagina and How to Loosen 

How to use Vaginal Dilators 

How to Relax Vaginal Muscles, Vaginismus & Sex 

Vaginal Stretching - Keeping in Shape with Dilators 

Do Dilators Really Work? Yes, and They can Improve Your Sex Life!

Shop for VuVa Vaginal Dilators

   

References:

 

Burcham, C. (2021, July 1). Here’s 7 Reasons Why You Might Be in Pain, After Sex. Women’s Health. https://www.womenshealthmag.com/uk/health/sexual-health/a29317722/sore-vagina-after-sex/ 

 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015, July 22). Alert on Work-Related Latex Allergy Recommends Steps to Reduce Exposures | NIOSH | CDC. https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/updates/latexpr.html 

 

Embry Women’s Health. (2018, October 31). Top 5 Common Causes of Painful Sex for Women. https://embrywomenshealth.com/top-5-common-causes-of-painful-sex-for-women/


Mayo Clinic. (2020a, July 23). Vulvodynia - Symptoms and causes. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/vulvodynia/symptoms-causes/syc-20353423

 

Mayo Clinic. (2020b, February 7). Painful intercourse (dyspareunia) - Symptoms and causes. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/painful-intercourse/symptoms-causes/syc-20375967

 

Mayo Clinic. (2020c, October 14). Menopause - Symptoms and causes. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menopause/symptoms-causes/syc-20353397

 

MSK Cancer Center. (2021, February 23). How to Use a Vaginal Dilator. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/patient-education/how-use-vaginal-dilator

 

NHS. (2020, August 17). Vaginal dryness. NHS UK. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaginal-dryness/

 

NHS website. (2020a, August 10). Bartholin’s cyst. Nhs.Uk. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/bartholins-cyst/


NHS website. (2020b, August 17). Vulvodynia (vulval pain). Nhs.Uk. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vulvodynia/

 

North American Menopause Society. (2020). Vaginal Discomfort, Sexual Side Effects of Menopause. The North American Menopause Society. https://www.menopause.org/for-women/sexual-health-menopause-online/causes-of-sexual-problems/vaginal-discomfort

 

Osborn, C. O. (2019, March 8). Am I Allergic to Condoms? Symptoms and Treatment. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-sex/allergic-to-condom

 

Peninsula Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy. (2020, July 22). PELVIC PAIN, PAINFUL SEX? TIGHT PELVIC FLOOR MUSCLES EXPLAINED. https://ppfp.com.au/pelvic-pain-painful-sex-tight-pelvic-floor-muscles-explained/

 

WebMD. (2017, March 30). What Can I Do About Vulvodynia? https://www.webmd.com/women/guide/what-can-i-do-about-vulvodynia

 

WebMD. (2012, May 30). Vaginismus. https://www.webmd.com/women/guide/vaginismus-causes-symptoms-treatments#2-6

 

Women’s Health Concern. (2020, December 15). Vaginal dryness. https://www.womens-health-concern.org/help-and-advice/factsheets/vaginal-dryness/

VuVa Dilators on Netflix!

Well what a surprise!!! A few years back we received an email from the props department on the Sex Education show on Netflix. They asked if we could send them a vaginal dilator set for their show. We couldn't say yes fast enough! 

Checkout Sex Education on Netflix: Season 2 Episode 8

#VUVAFAMOUS