Sex should always be mutually pleasurable, safe, enjoyable and should never hurt. At the same time, there are lots of reasons why you might get a sore vagina, or a sore vulva, after the act.
Of course, there’s the obvious one – you were a little too rigorous – but if getting down is causing you pain, and it’s not completely clear why, it’s something that shouldn’t be ignored.
Note: if you are having recurrent issues after sex, then it's advisable to check in with your GP, to see what might be going on. You should also never be pressured into any form of sexual activity which you are worried will cause you pain.
Why might I have a sore vagina after sex?
There are lots of reasons why you might feel pain after sex. 'Most of the time women experience soreness post-sex due to friction,' says GP Dr Jane Leonard. 'However, if you have a pre-existing skin problem, the soreness can be much worse.'
Painful intercourse is known as dyspareunia. It’s important to understand when and where you’re feeling pain. Is it during or after sex? Do you have a sore vagina after sex, or is the pain deep, internal pelvic pain?
From a lack of lubrication to fluctuating hormones and even latex allergies: we’ve spoken to the experts and rounded up the most common reasons why you might get a sore vagina after sex.
Why does my vagina hurt after sex?
1. Your vagina hurts after sex because: You have an infection
'Pain in or around the vagina could be caused by an infection,' suggests Dr Leonard. This could be something like thrush, or it could be a sexually transmitted infection (STI), such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea or genital herpes.
If you're experiencing pain during or after sex, it's always a good idea to visit your local sexual health clinic and ask for a full screening.
2. Your vagina hurts after sex because: Your hormones have changed
Changing hormone levels – which could be down to the menopause, perimenopause or even pregnancy – could be making your vagina dry, meaning there’s not enough lubrication during sex. This dryness could lead to some pain and soreness both during and after sex. The solution? Lots of lube. If you need help with the symptoms of perimenopause more widely, head to your GP, who can help with medication.
3. Your vagina hurts after sex because: You're not sexually aroused
Similarly to hormone changes, if you’re not feeling 'in the mood', you might not be producing enough lubrication – leaving your vagina dry. This can cause sex to become painful, and leave you with friction sores afterwards. Don't force sex. If you're not feeling it, do not feel any pressure to go ahead. However, if you're feeling dry but do want to have sex, using lube is key.
4. Your vagina hurts after sex because: You have a urine infection
'Back pain after sex can be caused by deep penetration but it can also be a sign of a ascending urine infection,' Dr Leonard tells us. If you feel unwell, have a fever, pain on passing urine, blood in your urine or increased frequency of passing urine, it's best to see your doctor.
5. Your vagina hurts after sex because: You have an allergy to latex
If you’re itchy after sex, and have ruled out the chances of infection, you could be allergic to either the condom or lubrication you’re using. Latex allergies are more common than you think, and your GP can test you for allergies and suggest other forms of contraception that might be better suited to you.
6. Your vagina hurts after sex because: You have a medical condition
'If you experience bleeding or pelvic pain, you should visit your doctor and arrange a sexual health screening' says Dr Leonard.
Pain felt inside the pelvis could be down to a number of medical conditions from pelvic inflammatory disease to endometriosis or fibroids. If you’re experiencing lower abdominal pain after sex, cramps after sex or bleeding after sex, visit your GP.
7. Your vagina hurts after sex because: You've had vigorous sex
More vigorous sex can feel great at the time – but it can also leave you feeling pretty sore afterwards. If your partner is particularly well endowed they could also be hitting against your cervix, causing pain.
If you have a sore vagina after sex, these tips might help
1. Soothe a sore vagina by: Soaking in Epsom salts
Epsom salts help to heal the body, soothe discomfort and reduce inflammation. Sprinkle a cup full into your bath and soak. Natural Epsom salts are best – be careful to steer clear from anything fragranced, as these could mess with your vaginal pH and irritate the area more.
2. Soothe a sore vagina by: Putting ice on your groin area
To ease pain, applying a cold compress to your groin can help reduce inflammation and swelling. Don’t apply ice directly to your vulva though, as this can lead to more issues.
3. Soothe a sore vagina by: Using lube (before and after sex)
Using a lubrication gel during sex is definitely a good idea if you’re experiencing pain due to friction, but popping some on your vulva after sex can also help ease discomfort. Look for a water-based lube with a cooling and soothing effect.
4. Soothe a sore vagina by: Wearing cotton underwear
Cotton is more breathable than other synthetic fabrics, so if your discomfort is caused by an infection, wearing cotton underwear can help whilst you heal.