Why Am I Sore After Sex?

It’s normal to feel a bit sore after sex. But you should know it shouldn’t hurt or last more than a day.

Pain can be caused by anything from rough sex to not using enough lubrication, to sexually transmitted infections or even endometriosis. Here are a few things that could be to blame: 1. Changing hormone levels.

1. Hormonal Changes

Women often feel a sore vulva after sex, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. It can be caused by rough sex, overzealous lubrication or not using a condom.

Changing hormone levels can also cause soreness. This can be due to pregnancy, menopause or perimenopause. If this is the case, try using more lubrication or switching to a water-based lubricant that’s less irritating on the skin. If the problem persists, speak with your doctor who may suggest estrogen creams, tablets or rings.

Pain down there can also be a sign of an infection, like thrush. This is common in both men and women and can be treated with over-the-counter antifungal pessaries or cream.

In addition, a painful vulva could be the first symptom of an STI, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea or herpes. If this is the case, it’s important to see your doctor right away for treatment. They may also refer you to a pelvic floor physical therapist to help relieve the tension in the muscles down there. They may also recommend antibiotics to treat any infections you have.

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2. Excessive Lubrication

Sometimes, your vulva hurts after sex because there was too much friction — not that there’s anything wrong with friction, but if it’s caused by rough sex or not using enough lube, it can definitely make you feel sore. If you’re dealing with this, double down on the lube and spend extra time on foreplay next time.

Other times, the discomfort could be because of a Bartholin’s cyst (or duct cyst or gland abscess). This is a fluid-filled growth that blocks one of the twin Bartholin’s glands on either side of the vagina. It’s rare, but about 2% of women develop this problem (Nguyen, 2021).

Your sore vulva may also be from an allergic reaction to ingredients in your lube or condoms. This is known as contact dermatitis and can cause redness, irritation, itching, and pain. If this is the case, try switching to a different product — a polyurethane condom might be less irritating than latex, for example. Or, you can switch to a water-based lubricant that won’t damage latex condoms. Your gynecologist can help you find a solution that works for you.

3. Overstretching Muscles

We all know that stretching is important to improve flexibility, prime the body for exercise, and protect against injury. However, LIVESTRONG reports that there is a fine line between challenging your muscles and hurting them. Oftentimes, this happens when people don’t warm up properly before exercising or if they try to stretch beyond their current level of flexibility.

When you feel a sharp or stabbing pain, it’s a sign that you’re pushing your muscles, tendons, and ligaments past their capacity for flexibility. This can lead to strains that affect a muscle, tendon, or ligament. These injuries can be mild and last a few days or severe, causing long-term pain and limiting mobility.

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To help alleviate the pain, take acetaminophen or ibuprofen as directed on the packaging. It’s also a good idea to elevate the affected area, apply heat, and ice as needed. If the pain doesn’t subside within a few days, contact your doctor. He or she may recommend a physical therapy session or other treatment options.

4. Yeast Infection

Pain after sex can also be a sign of an infection, such as a yeast infection (or vaginal thrush) or genital herpes. Yeast infections cause thick, white, clumpy vaginal discharge that doesn’t smell and typically feels itchy. They can be spread through sexual contact when one partner has itchy skin around the vulva and scratches, thereby spreading the fungus to the other person.

If you have a yeast infection, your doctor will probably recommend a short course of oral pills or antifungal vaginal creams or suppositories (available over-the-counter or by prescription). Your provider may also want to do a culture using a speculum and if the infection is recurrent she will probably want to examine both you and your partner.

Some pain during or after sex is totally normal, especially if you’re doing rough sex or if you aren’t properly lubricated. However, if you’re consistently sore after sex, it’s time to make an appointment with your gynecologist. The good news is that most causes of painful sex are easy to fix with a little extra lubrication and by working up slowly to more rigorous activity.

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5. An STI

If you’re feeling pain around the vulva (that’s what the inside of your vagina looks like, by the way) during or after sex, it may be a sign of an infection. Having STIs, like chlamydia, genital herpes and bacterial vaginosis, can cause soreness in the area because of the irritation it causes.

If your anal or vaginal pain is accompanied by other symptoms, such as fever, blood in the urine or vomiting, you should make an appointment to see your doctor as soon as possible. They will be able to offer advice and treatment, which can help prevent the infection from spreading to other partners or causing long-term effects.

To prevent pain during and after sex, try using extra lubrication or trying out different positions with your partner. It also helps to work up to rough sex slowly, and always use non-latex condoms. It’s also a good idea to get vaccinated against STIs, such as HPV, hepatitis A and B and hepatitis C. The vaccines can help reduce the risk of infection by 90%.

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