Pain related to sexual intercourse is a condition that should be checked by a healthcare professional. Most often, this will be a primary health care professional or a women’s health specialist (gynecologist).
Talk to your doctor about the pain you are having during sexual arousal and/or intercourse. It isn’t normal and could be a sign of an underlying problem that can be treated.
The abdomen is the part of the body that extends from your chest to the groin. Having sex can lead to pain in this area, but it usually doesn’t last very long. A strained muscle or other health condition can cause this type of pain after sexual activity.
For women, stomach pain after sex may be caused by trying out new sexual positions or if they’re having anal sex. Using a missionary position or doggy style can lead to deeper penetration, which can cause uterine irritation and pain.
It also may occur if you’re in the middle of your menstrual cycle. Each month, one of your ovaries grows a follicle that contains a maturing egg. Around two weeks before your period starts, this follicle may rupture and allow the sperm to fertilize the egg. This causes abdominal pain and cramping.
A gynecologist can help you determine the underlying reason for your pelvic pain. For example, a cyst on or in your ovary could be the cause of stomach pain after sex. You might also have a problem with your digestive system that’s causing your cramps, such as constipation or irritable bowel syndrome.
A cyst in your prostate, a walnut-sized gland in the lower pelvis, can also cause pain during and after sexual activity. This is known as dyspareunia and is characterized by pain near or in the vaginal opening or deep in the pelvis with or without an orgasm.
Women often experience cramping pain during arousal in the vulva, also known as the genitals. This type of pain is referred to as vulvar pain or pelvic pain and can be caused by a variety of health issues. The good news is that this type of pain is incredibly common and can be treated.
Cramps in the vulva can be due to a number of reasons, including infection and injury. One of the most common causes of vulvar pain is a urinary tract infection (UTI). This is an infection that affects any part of your bladder, ureters or kidneys. Symptoms of UTI include cramping, fever, painful urination and vaginal discharge.
Another common cause of vulvar pain is sexually transmitted disease (STD), such as gonorrhea, chlamydia or trichomonas. These infections are typically mild and can be cleared with a course of antibiotics.
Other conditions that can cause vulvar pain include pelvic inflammatory disease, uterine fibroids and ovarian cysts. These conditions can cause pain in the pelvic area, as well as itching and tenderness in the vulva. It is also important to note that if you are experiencing pain in the lower abdomen, along with itching and tenderness in the vulva and pelvic area, you may be experiencing early preterm labor and should call your OB-GYN immediately. The earlier this is diagnosed, the more likely it is that you will not suffer any complications.
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
PID is a serious condition that can cause damage to your reproductive organs and make it harder for you to get pregnant (infertility). It’s usually caused by bacterial infection, which spreads from the vagina or cervix to your uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries. It may also be caused by a sexually transmitted disease (STI), such as gonorrhea or chlamydia.
PID can cause symptoms like pelvic pain and a sore vagina. It can also cause an abscess — a collection of pus — to form in your reproductive tract. Most of the time, if your doctor knows you have PID, they’ll prescribe antibiotics to clear up the infection. They might also recommend a few days of rest.
There’s no single test for PID, but your doctor will probably perform a pelvic exam and check your tenderness in your cervix or uterus. They might swab your vagina or cervix and send the swabs to the lab for testing. If the swabs come back positive for gonorrhea or chlamydia, your doctor will most likely give you antibiotics to treat those infections.
It’s important to finish taking all the antibiotics your doctor gives you, even if you feel better after a few days. This can help keep the STI from coming back or spreading to other parts of your body. The best way to prevent PID and other STIs is to practice safe sex by using a condom every time you have sex, limiting the number of sexual partners you have, and asking about your partner’s STI history.
If pain in the vagina during sex is not caused by a bacterial infection or PID, there may be other reasons for your discomfort. A lack of sexual arousal or rushing into sex too quickly can cause your body to tighten and close, which makes penetration painful. This can also happen with certain surgeries or medical treatments, like hysterectomy or a cut during childbirth to enlarge the vagina (episiotomy).
A number of stomach issues, including gastrointestinal tract cancer and irritable bowel syndrome, can cause cramping pain. If you’re experiencing this, talk to your doctor about it. They can help you pinpoint what’s causing the pain, and suggest ways to reduce it.
Emotional or psychological problems can contribute to pelvic pain, as well. A history of emotional abuse or trauma, low self-esteem, relationship problems and stress can all affect your sexual arousal and lead to pain during sex. Medications can also have this effect, such as antidepressants, high blood pressure medications and some birth control pills.
Fortunately, most causes of pain during sex are treatable. Getting a checkup and following your doctor’s advice will help you feel better. Whether you have pain in the labia, vaginal opening or even deep inside your uterus, you deserve to have a pleasurable sex life. Taking steps to treat your pain, starting with the most common causes, will get you there.