Why Does My Vagina Feel Weird After Sex?

man and woman lying on bed

Hopefully, your sex life is pain-free—but if it’s not, there may be reasons for this. The first step is to determine if it’s internal vaginal pain or vulvar pain (the external part of your genitalia).

It could be something simple, like an allergic reaction to lubricants, flavored condoms or spermicides. Or, it could be a medical issue such as a yeast infection, thrush or STIs.

Friction

Rough sex can cause friction that makes your clit and vulva sore after sex. This is often the immediate result of rough intercourse, especially if no lubricant was used, and can tear sensitive vaginal tissues. It can also be a sign of an allergic reaction to lubricants or condoms, and if this is the case it’s best to discontinue use.

It’s also possible that you’re experiencing pain in the area because of a change in hormone levels. This is especially true if you’re going through menopause or perimenopause. Changes in hormones can lead to your body producing less lubrication, which can make sex feel dry and uncomfortable. To help with this, you can try applying a lot of lube before sexual activity and reapplying it as needed.

If your vulva is hurting during and after sex, it could be a sign of a urinary tract infection (UTI). This is a common cause for pain in the vulva and can be treated with an over-the-counter medication. Alternatively, you can visit your GP for treatment.

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Swelling

If you feel pain in the vulva after sexual activity, it’s important to know that there are plenty of possible causes. These include a yeast infection, a sexually transmitted disease (STI), and even pregnancy.

If the pain is concentrated around the clitoris or labia minora, you may be experiencing what’s known as sexually transmitted intercourse pain (STIPP). It can also happen to women with vulvodynia, a condition that causes chronic pain in the vulva.

STIPP is actually caused by friction between your skin and genital tissue, and it’s not related to the amount of lubricant you use or how rough you were during sexual intercourse. It can be uncomfortable, but it’s not a sign of anything serious and usually goes away on its own within a day or two.

In rare cases, post-sex pain may be due to a Bartholin’s cyst, a fluid-filled growth that blocks one of the twin Bartholin’s glands situated on either side of the vagina. These glands secrete fluid that helps lubricate the vulva before and during sexual intercourse. A cyst is not a serious medical issue and will usually drain on its own, but you should always talk to your doctor if it persists. They can check for a variety of reasons for your swelling, and provide you with the proper treatment options.

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Irritation

Sex can be painful if you aren’t aroused enough, which is why it’s always best to focus on foreplay, use sex toys and other methods of arousal before penetrative sex. Rough sex can also cause friction in the vaginal walls, so if you’re going for deep penetration with your partner try adding some extra lubrication to the mix.

Sometimes the burning sensation you feel post-sex isn’t due to friction but actually a sign of irritation in your vulva. If you’re prone to cystitis or UTIs, these can flare up after sex, especially if you have to urinate frequently or have pressure put on the bladder and urethra during sexual activity. If you’re noticing this regularly, then it’s definitely worth visiting your GP.

STIs like chlamydia, gonorrhea and herpes can also cause you to feel itchy in the vulva after sex. This is usually accompanied by pain during intercourse, and a strong-smelling discharge that’s green in colour. If you’re worried you might have an STI, then it’s always worth getting checked out by your GP, even if you take the correct precautions with barrier methods and abstinence. They can then prescribe you with the right antibiotics to help. A lot of STIs are easy to treat, but some can lead to more serious complications if they’re left untreated.

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Bacteria

Sometimes sex can introduce bacteria into the vagina. When the sex-causing bacteria, like candida, come into contact with the vulva’s delicate tissues, it can cause an infection called thrush. Thrush may cause pain during or after sex and itching, along with a cottage cheese-like discharge. It may also have a fishy smell and a burning sensation. It can be prevented by using lubricant, wearing loose pajama bottoms, and not sharing oral sex or toys.

Another reason your vulva might feel weird after sex is because you’re suffering from a sexually transmitted disease, or STI. Some STIs, including chlamydia, gonorrhoea and herpes, can also cause pain in or around the vulva after sex.

If you suspect an infection from sex, ask your doctor for a full sexual health screening and treatment. They might take a swab of your discharge to check for bacterial vaginosis or an STI, such as herpes.

Your GP might also recommend you use a hypoallergenic brand of lubricant or condom, as some products can cause an allergic reaction in the genital area. They might also prescribe a course of antibiotics to help clear the infection. Alternatively, they might recommend an ice pack to numb the painful tissue and reduce inflammation. They might also advise you to eat plenty of fibre and exercise regularly to boost your immunity.

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