Here’s why you may feel pain after sex — and when you should worry about it

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Many people experience pain after sex.
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There are many things a person might want to feel after having sex with someone, and noticeable pain in the vagina probably isn’t among them.

But bodies often react to things in unpredictable ways, so feeling vaginal pain after sex, while certainly undesirable, is by no means uncommon.

INSIDER talked to Jessa Zimmerman, a certified sex therapist and author of “Sex Without Stress,” to find out what might cause vaginal pain after sex — and what to do about it.

Pain after sex should never be ignored.

Because pain after sex is fairly common — according to the Mayo Clinic, many people with vaginas have painful sex at some point in their lives— it can be easy to assume that post-coital pain is the price of admission for a sex life. But hurting before, during, and/or after sex could actually be worthy of medical attention.

Don’t ignore any pain you feel after having sex.

“Sex should not hurt, besides maybe a little soreness after a long or hard sexual session,” Zimmerman told INSIDER. “If the pain is consistently a problem, [you] should absolutely see a doctor.”

Unfortunately, you may need to go to the doctor a few times before getting a proper diagnosis.

“The average woman sees seven medical providers before getting the root of the problem,” Zimmerman told INSIDER. “It’s important to have persistence in getting help.”

There are many different medical conditions that can cause pain after sex — and they all require different treatments.

“There are some medical causes of sexual pain, including skin conditions, autoimmune disorders, pain conditions due to overgrowth of nerves, endometriosis, and vaginismus, an involuntary clenching of the vagina that develops in anticipation of pain and is painful in itself,” Zimmerman told INSIDER.

In order to ensure you receive proper treatment, Zimmerman emphasized seeing a doctor as soon as you can.

Seeing a doctor could make all the difference in your sex life.
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If the pain after sex is due to a pelvic condition, for example, you may need to go through physical therapy to learn how to relax pelvic floor muscles. Something like endometriosis, on the other hand, would likely be treated with birth control or laparoscopic surgery.

Age and lack of foreplay can also contribute to post-sex pain.

One common cause of postcoital pain is menopause. If that’s the case, there are definitely ways to deal.

“There is a three-fold approach to dealing with those changes. Moisturizing regularly with a product like Replens, lubrication during sex, and stretching of the vagina on a regular basis with fingers, penis, toys, etc.,” Zimmerman told INSIDER. “A prescription for an estrogen cream or suppository might be warranted, and there may be other options your doctor would recommend.”

Lack of foreplay is also a fixable cause for post-coitol pain.

“It’s important that a woman be aroused and ready for sex,” Zimmerman told INSIDER. “If she isn’t lubricated and receptive, sex can hurt. Using a lubricant can help, but don’t neglect attempts to arouse the woman as well. It’s worth considering whether the sex is too vigorous or if the penis or toy is too big for her as well.”

To identify the cause of pain, you need to figure out what it feels like to you.

“When a woman experiences pain, it’s important to get specific about what’s going on,” Zimmerman told INSIDER.

To attain specificity, Zimmerman recommended identifying easy ways to describe the pain.

“Is the pain before, during, and/or after sex? Where is the pain — at the entrance to the vagina, all over the vulva, deep inside? What does it feel like — burning, stabbing, throbbing?” Zimmerman said. “How old [are you]? [Are you] aroused and lubricated during sex? Is the sexual activity especially vigorous or damaging?”

Not only will this help you come to terms with the amount of pain you’re experiencing, being able to put precise words to what you are feeling should also help you get an accurate diagnosis much quicker than you might otherwise.

It is clear that there are many things that can cause the pain and just as many ways to treat it. And the faster you identify the cause of your pain, the faster you won’t have to deal with it anymore.

For more great stories, head to INSIDER’s homepage.

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