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Soreness after Sex: How to Avoid It

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"Dear Jacqui," the message begins. "I have a very dry vagina, and I had sex. Now I am really itching. And it hurts when my husband penetrates."

Or, “Every time my boyfriend and I have sex, my vagina ends up really sore. It hurts to go to the bathroom I am so raw. What’s wrong?”

Soreness after sex is common and can absolutely be avoided. So why does my vagina hurt? There are several principal reasons that cause it:

• Lack of lubrication is the major problem for vaginal irritation, redness and soreness. The reasons for vaginal dryness are different for younger and more mature women. In mature women lack of lubrication is due to low estrogen levels. As women reach menopause and beyond, the estrogen hormones are diminished. Estrogen levels largely control moisture in a woman’s body--in her hair, skin, and vaginal environment. Accordingly, when estrogen levels are low, little or no moisture is available during sexual activity. The delicate vaginal tissue becomes severely irritated, causing discomfort or pain during sex and after. An intimate moisturizer eliminates dryness instantly and makes the sexual experience completely pleasurable.

• In younger, pre-menopausal women the body is storing and releasing moisture to facilitate procreation. It didn’t plan for sexual recreation. The body’s moisture reserve is stored in the “Bartholin” gland and vaginal tissue. It is released at the start of intimacy and protects the delicate vaginal tissue during sex. As intimate activity continues and the moisture is used up, irritation and soreness often occur. That’s why the use of a safe moisture product is indicated for younger women as well.

• Medical reasons, such as eating disorders, can cause debilitating hormonal changes resulting in vaginal dryness. These same symptoms can occur to women athletes or women who exercise excessively.

• Lack of vaginal lubrication, no matter what the reason, will result in soreness, swollen tissue, itching and or pain during and after sex because the delicate vaginal tissue is affected when not enough moisture is present to protect it. The resulting discomfort can last for hours, even days.

• Some women are allergic to protection products like condoms or spermicides. If you and your partner use such items and experience soreness or itching, it may be an allergic reaction causing it. Try switching brands or use a different method of protection.

• Women can be allergic to the presence of semen in the vagina. That is why it is very important to void soon after having sex. Wash with plenty of lukewarm water and do not use regular soaps or cleansers. Specifically avoid scented washes, bubble baths or douches, any vaginal products with flavors or additives that can alter the healthy vaginal pH.

• Protect your health when using a vaginal lubricant/moisturizer. For your safety use an U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved product. Many common lubricants are not FDA-approved, which means not safe for use inside the most sensitive part of your body. For daily intimate cleansing use pH balanced products only. Avoid products with chemical fragrances, coloring or additives, douches or bubble baths, especially after sexual activity.

• Finally, sexual discomfort is often due to insufficient stimulation. Men usually are ready for penetration within two minutes of foreplay. Women need 15 to20 minutes to be fully ready for intercourse. Sexual activity need never cause discomfort. It is about giving each other pleasure.

Edited by Alison Stanton

Add a Comment8 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

I have the exact same problems after sex. I would suggest taking some herbal therapy which is safe and effective ....for me the traditional herbal remedy fuyan pill eases my pains. this treatment works best for me because I feel no pain at all after.

October 12, 2016 - 11:27pm
EmpowHER Guest

Coconut Oil works well as a natural moisturizer during sex, and it helps relieve soreness afterwards.

June 28, 2016 - 5:43am
EmpowHER Guest

Thanks Loads For This, I Was Sooo Worried That It'd Always Hurt For A Few Days After, Every Time, I Didn't Wonna End Up Dreading Sex, But Now I'm Gonna Try Loads Of Lube, As My Own Natural Supply Gets Used Up Sooo Quick, Just Hope I'm Not Allergic To It Lol :P :)

August 2, 2015 - 4:38pm

i am so glad you added about women being allergic to sperm, condoms etc. I was one of those poor girls...there are many different kinds of condoms so you just keep buying different brands till you find the right one! Also different stuff they are made with..look at that so you do not waste your money.
I was told by RN to bath before when it is near you first times..bath will relax you and loosen it up so easier.

March 10, 2012 - 5:30am

For the life of me I cannot undertand why more doctors don't discuss this with patients of peri/menopausal age (if your doctor is uncomfortable about talking about sex with his/her patients, it's time for a new doctor!) and why more women are not prescribed bioidentical estriol cream intravaginally for dryness (estriol is the weakest of the three estrogens, so is safe for most women). It's effective (I've been using it for 5 years), safe, and inexpensive at a compounding pharmacy. I think my prescription runs about $12 per month (without insurance). This is about more than comfortable sex, the estriol cream prevents pain and tearing and it preserves the genital tissue. If anyone would like a list of resources to help you find a doctor/compounding pharmacy who specializes in bioidentical hormones (and yes, you do need a doctor's prescription for most bioidentical hormones, or a list of recommended reading to learn more about the protocol, drop me a line at [Email removed by EmpowHer Moderator] Best wishes to all for hormonal health!

July 11, 2011 - 10:05am

I also figured out that if you are anticipating that it will hurt, than you are setting yourself up for less natural lube, you become hesitant and tense up.. then its 2 problems and it will hurt.. Just not good.
So I make a concerted effort to stretch things out a bit and it helps if you are confident in your partner to follow your lead.
Not a fix for all my issues, but a difference in perception helps. :)

July 7, 2011 - 3:23pm
(reply to catastrophi101)

Thanks for sharing! I absolutely agree that perception has a lot to do with women sometimes being unable to naturally lubricate because they don't allow themselves to relax. Some women, though, will need a lubricant no matter how little they think about it or how relaxed they are. It's amazing how different every human body is :) Thanks again for your input!

July 8, 2011 - 7:54am
EmpowHER Guest

It seems such a shame that so many women dont understand their own bodies and the problems they can have. Women just expect sex to be great and dont really understand that without the proper lubrication it is simply painful and even horrible. I use a site called [link removed by EmpowHer moderator] to sort out all my vaginal dryness problems.

July 7, 2011 - 10:29am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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