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Why Does My Body Hurt After Sex?

Feeling sore after sex can be confusing and frustrating. But, it’s not unusual.

Sometimes the pain is from a weak pelvic floor, so working out those muscles can help. Other times the pain is from a bladder or urinary tract infection. And still others are due to sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or other health issues.

Vaginismus

Vaginismus, or pelvic pain/genital pain/penetration disorder as it’s formally known, is an emotional and physical condition that causes women to feel pain when anything touches the vulva. It’s one of the most common female psychosexual dysfunctions. It can occur in a variety of ways and ranges from mild to severe pain. It’s a very under-reported condition as many people are too embarrassed to discuss it with their healthcare providers.

It’s caused by a spasm in the pelvic floor muscles, also known as the “Kegel” muscle. These muscles are the ones that surround your bladder, rectum and vagina. They can be triggered by penetrative actions during sex, medical exams, or putting in a tampon. They can be so spasmed or tight that it makes it extremely difficult (and often painful) to have sex.

This can happen at any age and can affect the entire vulva or just part of it. There are four types of vaginismus: primary, secondary, global and situational. Primary vaginismus is when it occurs without any triggers. For example, it may only happen during sex with one partner and not another. Secondary vaginismus is when it happens with any object in all situations like gynecological exams, tampon insertion or sexual intercourse. Global vaginismus is when it happens with all objects in all situations including sex, tampon insertion and pelvic exams.

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Endometriosis

Women with endometriosis often experience painful intercourse, especially around the time of their period. This pain is caused by cells similar to those that line the womb, but growing outside the uterus. When these cells are exposed to hormones, they react like the lining of the womb and bleed every month. However, this blood can’t leave the body, so it builds up and causes inflammation, pain and scar tissue.

This can cause sex to feel uncomfortable or even painful, and may lead to sexual avoidance. It’s important for people with this condition to talk openly with their partners about their feelings, so they can work together to find solutions that help reduce discomfort.

For example, pelvic floor physiotherapy can be very effective for many people with this condition. Exercise can also reduce stress and help stretch out the muscles in the pelvic area to relieve pain. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications are often helpful, too.

Some people with endometriosis have surgery to remove the excess endometrial tissue. This can be done through a laparoscopy, or with an intrauterine device (IUD). These treatments can help alleviate pain for many people. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the pain will likely return after these treatments. That’s why it’s important to find other ways to manage your symptoms, such as exercise and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication.

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Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

STIs, or sexually transmitted diseases, spread through the exchange of bodily fluids during vaginal, oral and anal sex. They also can be spread through skin contact and during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding and through blood transfusions or shared needles. STIs can cause serious health problems, including infertility, cardiovascular disease and infection with HIV.

Symptoms of STIs include vaginal discharge, painful urination and low abdominal pain or a UTI (which can cause bladder, kidney and urethral inflammation). The infections can be caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites or protozoa. Bacteria-caused STIs include chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis; parasite-caused STIs include trichomonas; viral-caused STIs include herpes simplex virus and genital herpes.

BV, yeast infections and UTIs can all cause pain after sex. If you have one or more of these issues, make sure you use enough lube during intercourse and consider switching to water-based lubricants, which are easier on the skin. If you’re experiencing pain in the vulva, ask your doctor about using low-dose estrogen therapy, which can help with the thickness of the vaginal walls, moisture levels and a healthy vaginal flora. It’s important to remember that most of the time pain after sex is not a medical emergency. But it can be a sign of an infection or a serious condition like endometriosis, so you should always talk to your doctor about the issue.

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Stress

It’s normal for sex to hurt a little. But if it’s constant or you have no idea what’s going on, it might be time to see a doctor. We’ve talked to doctors and health experts to bring you some of the most common reasons your body may be sore after sex.

A urinary tract infection (UTI) can be painful if you don’t treat it right away. It can also cause pain when you urinate or have a wet diaper. Because the bladder sits just above the vagina, sex can irritate your urinary tract and cause pain.

Endometriosis is a condition that causes uterine tissue — which normally lines the inside of the womb — to grow outside of the uterus. It can cause pelvic pain that gets worse during or after sex.

Pelvic pain is a common symptom of endometriosis and other female reproductive conditions. It can feel like a pulled muscle, especially after sexual activity. It can also be a sign of other health problems, like uterine fibroids or ovarian cysts.

Your doc will probably do a physical exam and run some tests. They might give you a pelvic ultrasound or MRI. They’ll also ask you about your symptoms and past health history. They’ll probably suggest a medication or other treatment options that can help reduce your pain.