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Why Do My Legs Hurt After Sex?

Ideally, sex should feel good. Orgasms release feel-good hormones that promote bonding, boost physical fitness and even help fight depression.

But pain during and after sex is not uncommon. It can be caused by something as simple as not using enough lube to as complex as vulvodynia or a sexually transmitted infection.

1. Vaginismus

Vaginismus is a condition that causes your vaginal muscles to tighten up or spasm when you try to insert anything into it, including a penis. It can be painful and distressing, but it’s treatable. It’s usually caused by fear or anxiety around penetration, and it’s sometimes linked to past sexual trauma or relationship problems.

Healthcare providers can diagnose vaginismus very quickly by asking you about your symptoms and medical history. They may also do a pelvic exam to check your muscles. They may apply a topical numbing cream to the outside of your vagina before the exam to make it less painful for you.

Treatments for vaginismus focus on reducing the reflex that causes your muscles to tighten up or spasm. You might get a combination of physical and psychological treatments, such as pelvic floor muscle training or controlled breathing. You might also use a vaginal dilator, which is a tube-shaped device that gradually increases in size to help you feel more comfortable with penetration. Your healthcare provider might also recommend sex therapy with a trained therapist.

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2. Endometriosis

Endometriosis is when tissue that looks and acts like the lining of your uterus grows outside your womb. It reacts to the menstrual cycle each month by swell and bleed, but it can’t leave the body. This can cause inflammation and scar tissue to form, leading to pain, often during your period.

For some people, it can even affect your pelvic organs and bowels. Your doctor will check your symptoms and exam to find out if you have endometriosis. They may also recommend tests such as an ultrasound, an MRI or laparoscopy to diagnose the condition and decide on the best treatment for you.

Pelvic pain can also be caused by a sexually transmitted infection (STI) such as chlamydia, gonorrhea or mycoplasma. This can also cause pain during sex as the bacteria can inflame your cervix and ovaries, leading to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Some STIs don’t always have any symptoms, so it’s important to get tested regularly. A PID diagnosis can help you avoid long-term pain and complications. It’s helpful to keep a record of your symptoms and when they occur, so you can share this with your doctor.

3. Rough sex

Rough sex isn’t for everyone, but it can be great fun with the right partner and it can lead to incredible orgasms. Often, rough sex involves thrusting and twisting movements which can strain the muscles and cause pain. If you’re into rough sex then make sure you have plenty of lube and communicate with your partner to ensure it’s both safe and consensual. It’s also important to avoid laughing during rough sex, as the second you laugh, it breaks the intensity of the moment and can cause pain.

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It’s possible that some pain and tenderness after sex is a normal part of the process, but if you are experiencing pain and bleeding that isn’t going away in a few days then you may need to see your doctor. Some of the things that can cause pain after sex are easy to fix, like using more lube, while others aren’t so simple and could be more serious, like an infection or even a sexually transmitted disease. Regardless, it’s never good to feel pain or discomfort after sex.

4. Too much lube

Lube is a fantastic tool for increasing pleasure and making penetrative sex safer, but it’s important to understand how much lube is too much. Using too much lube can cause friction or irritation and may make it difficult to insert sex toys, so if you’re finding that you have to apply lube frequently or you feel like you can’t get enough penetration, you should decrease the amount of lube you’re using.

Similarly, if your partner has a very thick penis, it can create small tears in the vaginal tissue during penetration or even when thrusting. This can lead to pain during sex, as well as lingering pain afterward. In this case, the best thing you can do is talk to your partner about it and try different positions to avoid it in the future. Luckily, there are tons of different kinds of lubes out there, so you should be able to find one that works for you. Also, try to do some foreplay before sex to increase the intimacy and reduce any tension that could be causing pain.

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5. Infections

If you feel sore after sex that’s worse than mild discomfort, or if it happens every time you have sex, talk to your doctor. These symptoms are not normal and can be a sign of serious health problems (Lydia, 2019).

Yeast infections, STIs like gonorrhea and chlamydia, and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) all make having sex uncomfortable. PID is a combination of inflammation of the urinary tract and gut—including the uterus, fallopian tubes, and bladder—which can make pain and itching during penetration worse (Lydia, 2023).

Other infections can also cause painful sex. For example, a herpes infection (which is contagious) can cause you to experience itching, swelling, and itching in your vulva, which can make it difficult to have penetrative sex.

Other infections that can cause painful sex include an undescended testicle, interstitial cystitis, and endometriosis. These are all serious conditions, but fortunately, they’re treatable and can help you enjoy pain-free sex (Lydia, 2023).