What Causes Cramping After Sex?

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Cramping after sex is normal, but what causes it can vary from woman to woman. In some cases the cramps may be due to an infection like chlamydia or gonorrhea.

Symptoms of other conditions such as endometriosis, ovarian cysts or pelvic inflammatory disease can also cause abdominal pain after sex. Women can find relief from their symptoms by changing sexual positions or using a heating pad.

Causes

Some cramps after sex are normal and healthy. They’re usually caused by muscle strain. For example, if you have very deep penetration during sex, the muscles in your pelvic area can feel pressure. This can also happen if you’re pregnant, especially in the first trimester. Cramps may also be a sign that you’re about to get your period or that you’ve ovulated.

Other causes include:

Pelvic Infections: STIs, such as gonorrhea or chlamydia, can cause pain and cramping in the uterus and lower abdominal area. These infections can also irritate the bladder and cause a urinary tract infection (UTI).

Ovulation: Cramping is common at this time of the month because an egg is released from your ovary for possible pregnancy. If you’re not using birth control, this can lead to an unintended pregnancy.

Tilted Uterus: If you have a tilted uterus, your cervix can feel pressure during sexual intercourse. This can lead to sex cramps.

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Other Causes:

Treatment

The good news is that cramping after sex is usually nothing to worry about. However, if you experience pain on a regular basis, it’s important to see your doctor to rule out anything that might be wrong.

Often, cramping after sex is due to uterine muscle contractions that occur during orgasm, notes Dr. Ross. They are a normal physiologic response to the release of oxytocin and should go away once you’ve reached orgasm and the uterus has returned to its normal position.

Women who are experiencing cramps on a frequent basis should also consult with their OB-GYN, especially if they’re worried about an infection. Cramping after sex can be caused by a urinary tract infection, which is common in women and may be exacerbated by sexual activity. In addition, a woman who is pregnant could experience pain or cramping after sex because of the pressure on her uterus and bladder that comes with pregnancy.

Medications can sometimes cause cramping after sex in both men and women, particularly those that are used to treat high blood pressure or other conditions like fibromyalgia or depression. For example, beta-blockers can sometimes cause sexual side effects such as erectile problems and pain in the pelvic area, and antidepressants can decrease libido and produce cramping. If this is the case, it’s a good idea to talk to your GP or psychiatrist about changing the medication you’re taking.

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Prevention

Luckily, most of the causes of cramping after sex are treatable or preventable. The key is to identify the underlying cause. Once you do, treatment will vary depending on what’s behind the scenes.

For example, if you have an IUD, uterine cramping that goes with orgasms is normal and usually nothing to worry about, says Ross. The pain is caused by the IUD taking up space in the uterus, which can make muscles tense and spasm. However, she warns that if the pain continues after orgasm has stopped, it may be a sign of an STI like chlamydia or gonorrhea.

Another potential cause is a tilted uterus, which happens in about one out of five women. This can cause the penis to bump into the cervix at an odd angle, leading to painful intercourse or cramping after sex. This issue can be addressed with a pelvic exam or a pap smear, explains Ross.

Other ways to prevent cramping after sex include taking an NSAID (like ibuprofen or naproxen) before sexual activity, practicing good oral hygiene and using condoms, staying hydrated, stretching and doing pelvic floor exercises, and engaging in foreplay. Finally, pacing yourself and taking breaks during sex can also help reduce cramps. Most importantly, if the pain lasts more than a few hours, see your doctor right away.

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See Your Doctor

When cramps after sex are a regular issue, it’s important to make an appointment with your doctor. Getting to the bottom of what’s causing your cramping can help you prevent it in the future and enjoy a more pleasurable sexual life.

Cramps after sex are often the result of uterine muscle contractions that occur during orgasms. However, if the pain doesn’t subside after a few minutes and/or you start bleeding heavily, it is important to seek medical attention. A pelvic exam is usually required to determine the cause of the pain, and diagnostic tests may be needed depending on what’s causing it.

Cramping after sex can also be caused by ovulation, which occurs about halfway through your menstrual cycle and prepares the body for pregnancy by releasing an egg into the fallopian tube. During ovulation, the cervix drops lower and becomes firmer so that it’s harder for the penis to enter the uterus, which can trigger a painful cramping response.

If you have an IUD and experience cramping after sex, this can be a sign that it has shifted and needs to be repositioned or removed, says Ross. Other gynecological conditions like endometriosis and ovarian cysts can also cause cramping after sex, and if you’re pregnant and experiencing cramps, it’s important to see your doctor to ensure your pregnancy is progressing normally.

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