Why your vagina feels sore after sex

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Sex can feel really good. The vaginal soreness that comes after sometimes? Not so much. If it’s is something you’re experiencing, it’s crucial to identify the exact cause so you can nip the problem in the bud before it starts impacting the way you feel about an intimate experience.
 
Dr Goh Lit Ching of DTAP Clinic shares some of the possible reasons why it happens and what the treatments entail.

Vaginal dryness

Vaginal dryness is dependent on factors like age, timing in menstrual cycle, dietary habits, quality of sleep and hydration levels. It commonly affects couples who rush into doing the feed without adequate foreplay.

While this type of soreness is usually superficial and tends to be self-limiting, it can recur if the same mistake is made during subsequent attempts at intercourse.

To relieve vaginal dryness, try applying copious amounts of lubricant before each intercourse. It is also important to have a healthy lifestyle with adequate sleep and hydration.

Women approaching menopause may also experience vaginal dryness and a doctor’s prescription may include topical Estrogen cream or Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) for symptomatic relief.

Vaginal fungal infection (thrush)

Fungal infections are very common and are usually caused by yeasts. Other than soreness, these infections can also result in itchiness, burning sensations, vulval swelling and thick creamy white discharge.

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Yeasts occur naturally as skin commensals, but infections can occur when the natural balance of good bacteria and yeast population changes. When this occurs, the yeast species can over-grow and spread.

The natural balance of the vagina can be disturbed by many factors; from local factors like PH changes caused by semen from sexual intercourse to systemic factors like poor immunity, chronic medical illnesses and medications like broad spectrum antibiotics.

Medication will often be needed to relieve the symptoms of persistent infections. Topical creams, pessaries and oral antifungals are usually offered as options for acute flare ups of yeast infections.

When there is an acute flare-up, it is advisable to abstain from intercourse or use condoms to prevent the spread to your partner. Taking probiotic supplements can also serve as a type of prevention since it helps to restore the natural balance of good bacteria in the body.

Sexually transmitted diseases

Sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia and gonorrhoea are common. While they can be asymptomatic, soreness, vaginal discharge, and burning sensations while passing urine can occur as a result.

The Herpes Simplex virus is another common infection that can also cause soreness, ulcers and blisters around the vagina.

In such cases, a visit to the doctor will be needed for investigative tests and starting the correct treatment. If left untreated, chlamydia and gonorrhoea can turn severe and result in pelvic inflammatory disease or infertility.

Urinary tract infection

When a woman is suffering from this type of infection, it is not uncommon for her to experience vaginal soreness simultaneous with painful urination.

Urinary tract infections usually affects women who are sexually active and can occur post-intercourse–this is because the urethra is shorter in women and bacteria around the urinary system can easily climb up. Sometimes, it may even affect the bladder.

It is important to make some natural lifestyle adjustments like emptying the bladder post-intercourse, staying hydrated and avoiding douching.

Cranberry supplements have also been shown to be beneficial in prevention of recurring a urinary tract infection. There is also an option of prophylactic antibiotic usage in cases of multiple recurrences.

Vaginal skin irritation

Soreness can be caused by the usage of condoms or spermicide products during intercourse and can happen to women who have a latex allergy or sensitive skin. Symptoms include skin redness, itching and a burning sensation.

Use an alternative form of contraception once the agent causing irritation is identified. In severe cases, topical cream containing steroids or antihistamines may be used to relieve the skin allergy or irritation.

Vaginismus

Vaginismus is the most common psychological reason for vaginal soreness and happens due to involuntary spasms inside the vagina.

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The extent of vaginismus varies among individuals, and sexual intercourse is nearly impossible for some couples because the woman experiences moderate to intense pain during or after the act.

Multiple factors can contribute to this condition, including emotional and physical triggers such as fear of pain, previous traumatic events or a bad experience with childbirth.

Treatments like sexual counselling sessions and physiotherapy sessions that target pelvic floor muscle exercises can be helpful.

There is also the option of using self-administered vaginal dilator devices ,where one can gradually increases the size of the dilator device over time to desensitise the pelvic floor muscle.

Emotional factors

Anxiety depression, concerns about body image, fear of intimacy or relationship problems can contribute to a low level of arousal and a resulting discomfort or pain. Stressful events in daily life can also contribute to soreness post-intercourse and low sexual satisfaction.

Assistance often involve couple’s counselling sessions and behavioural therapy sessions. Sometimes, initiation of mood stabilising medications will be needed if other aspects in life are also affected.

This article was first published in Her World Online.