4 Things That Can Make Your Vagina Feel Sore After Sex

Causes of pain beyond yeast infections and STIs

After sexual activity, your vagina feels sore. The pain lasts at least a few hours or even until the next day. What could be going on?

Post-sexual activity soreness is not uncommon, especially in younger people and with newer partners, said Donnica Moore, MD, OB-GYN and president of Sapphire Women's Health Group in New Jersey.

Yeast infections and some STIs are known to cause stinging and burning, Dr. Moore said, and those symptoms will likely feel worse after intercourse. If the soreness lasts longer than 24 hours, it's a good idea to see your healthcare provider to check for an infection.

But if the discomfort is not accompanied by red flags such as bleeding or unusual discharge, you could figure out the cause on your own. Read through this checklist of possible reasons for soreness after sex, plus the steps to take to keep it from happening again.

You Aren't Aroused Enough Before Sexual Activity

Chafing caused by a lack of lubrication during intercourse is the number one cause of post-sex soreness, Dr. Moore said. "Sometimes we get carried away in the heat of the moment and we don't always realize how much friction there may have been," Dr. Moore said. Even if you know you're in the mood, your body might need a little more time to catch up—and there's nothing weird or abnormal about that.

So, before intercourse, make sure to engage in lots of foreplay, enough so that your vagina becomes sufficiently lubricated. How wet you get can be influenced by pregnancy, breastfeeding, and even where you are in your menstrual cycle. Birth control and allergy medications can also contribute to vaginal dryness.

Don't hesitate to use a store-bought lubricant. And if you use condoms, keep the lubricated kind on hand.

The Sex Is Rough

In experimenting with different moves and positions, it's very possible that you end up in a position that puts extra pressure on your vagina or vulva, Dr. Moore said. That can leave you feeling sore afterward.

While every person's body is different, Dr. Moore suggested that having sex from behind could create that extra pressure and friction at the vaginal entrance. Always let your partner know if they're going too fast or penetrating you at an angle that doesn't quite work for your body.

It's an Allergic Reaction

Some people experience an allergic reaction to sex-related products, such as latex or flavored condoms, scented or flavored lubricants, and spermicides. If you suspect an allergy from one of these items, immediately rinse your vagina to cleanse away the allergens and see if that helps, suggested Mary Jane Minkin, MD, clinical professor and OB-GYN at Yale School of Medicine. Then stop using the product that you think is triggering your symptoms, Dr. Minkin advised.

You Have a Rare Cyst

In very rare cases, post-sex soreness could be due to a Bartholin's cyst—a benign, fluid-filled growth that blocks one of the two Bartholin's glands situated on either side of the vagina. About 2% of "women develop a Bartholin's duct cyst or gland abscess at some time in life," according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.

The twin Bartholin's glands secrete fluid to help lubricate the vagina before intercourse. If a Bartholin's cyst is the culprit, you'd only feel a burning sensation on one side, and you might see a small, ball-shaped growth just inside the vaginal opening.

"If a Bartholin's gland gets blocked, there can be swelling," Dr. Moore said. "But it would be unlikely that would happen uniformly on both sides."

If you think you have a Bartholin's cyst, you can sit in a warm tub, which could help drain the fluid, Dr. Minkin recommended. If that doesn't work, check in with your OB-GYN, who can surgically drain the cyst.

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