Why Does My Vagina Feel Sore After Sex? 3 Experts Explain

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Sex should always be mutually pleasurable, safe and enjoyable. But, if your vagina or vulva is sore after sex, there may be some reasons why.

First, a brief anatomy lesson: Your vagina is your internal genitalia and your vulva is the external part that encompasses your labia and clitoris. Now, onto six common reasons why your lady parts might be sore after sex.

Inadequate lubrication

You might not want to tell your partner, but if you’re experiencing pain during sex (medically known as dyspareunia) that could be caused by a number of things. It could be an STI, a yeast infection or maybe something as simple as rough sex or not using enough lube. We enlisted three experts who broke down why you might be sore after sex and how to fix it.

Entry pain — the sensation of getting sexy — could be caused by not using enough lube or by going in too hard and fast, or by a problem like a Bartholin’s cyst, which is a fluid-filled growth that blocks one of the twin glands on each side of your vagina. “They secrete a fluid that helps to lubricate during intercourse and can be painful when blocked,” says gynecologist Mary Jane Minkin, MD, contributor to the Vagisil VSHE Council.

Pain during penetration is often a sign of an undiagnosed sexually transmitted disease, including infections like chlamydia and gonorrhoea, or a viral infection like herpes. It can also be an indicator of a condition like endometriosis, an ovarian cyst or uterine fibroids. If you’re unsure about the cause, make an appointment with your GP or a Planned Parenthood health center.

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Rough sex

Rough sex can feel great if you and your partner are into it, but it often hurts afterwards. That’s because rough sex can cause friction in your vulva. If you use lubrication, the friction shouldn’t be as bad. A good lubricant is water-based and cooling, which can help ease pain.

Alternatively, you could try using a smaller dildo. It’s also a good idea to communicate with your boo-thing, so you can both set boundaries about how rough or soft you want to be. This reduces the risk of doing something you regret and could hurt your vulva.

You might have a fungal infection called thrush, which causes painful sensitivity in your vulva and cottage cheese-like discharge. It can be triggered by stress and sexual activity, including intercourse. If you’re worried, ask your lady doctor for a test to rule out STIs like chlamydia, gonorrhoea and herpes.

In very rare cases, a sore vagina after sex may be caused by a Bartholin’s cyst. This is a fluid-filled growth that blocks one of the twin Bartholin’s glands situated on either side of your vulva. These glands secrete fluid to lubricate the vulva before intercourse. If you think this is the problem, you’ll know because you’d only experience pain on one side of your vulva and you might see a cyst on the vulva.

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Endometriosis

If you’re experiencing extreme pain down there, it may be a sign of conditions like endometriosis or vulvodynia. Your doctor can recommend treatments that help relieve these symptoms. For example, your doctor might prescribe medications that are meant to help control these conditions or they might refer you to a pelvic floor physical therapist to help loosen the tight muscles in your lower abdomen.

Another reason you might feel sore after sex is a urinary tract infection (UTI). When you have a UTI, it can cause a burning sensation during and after intimacy. Your doctor can prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection.

It’s also possible that you’re not getting enough arousal before having sex, which can lead to lack of lubrication and friction down there. You can try increasing your arousal, using extra lubricant, and trying different positions to see which ones are less painful. You can also talk to your partner about making intimacy more pleasurable for both of you. Open communication is the best way to avoid these issues and find a solution that works for you. You may also want to consider seeing an OB/GYN or sex therapist, who can suggest alternative ways of having a sexual experience. This could be as simple as a warm bath with Epsom salts, which can heal the skin and soothe pain.

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Cuts

The vulva is a delicate area and can get hurt by anything from rough sex to just pushing too hard when you’re trying to have penetrative sex. These can cause abrasions, cuts and bruises to the vulva. If the pain and redness around your vulva is deeper than a scrape or a cut, it’s best to seek medical attention.

Other causes of a sore vagina after sex include an STI (which can cause pain, itching, swelling and sensitivity) or an infection like thrush. Thrush is a common fungal infection that can make your vulva feel sore and it’s especially painful during sex.

A sore vagina could also be caused by a broken hymen or lichen sclerosis, which can cause itching and pain in the vulva. A hymen can break if you use certain products, such as some feminine hygiene or baby wipes, or if you aren’t careful when having sex. Lichen sclerosis is a condition that can lead to itchy white patches on the vulva and may be aggravated by sexual activity.

Thankfully, most cases of pain with sex aren’t due to a serious issue. In most cases, the soreness is a result of inadequate lubrication and can be prevented by using a lot of lube before and during sex. You can also try switching lubricants to one that’s less irritating or to using condoms that don’t contain latex. It’s also a good idea to focus on foreplay before and during sex to increase your arousal and make you more comfortable.

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