Ever wondered? This might be the reason why your vagina burns after sex

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  • FYI, it's actually super common.

    If you’re searching the web trying to find out why your vagina burns after sex, public service announcement: a bit like sex dreams, chafing during the summer months and UTIs, it’s actually quite common.

    It might not be a hot topic of conversation between you and your mates, sure, but it happens to most women at some point in their lifetime.

    An American College of Obstetrics and Gynae survey found that around 75% of women will feel pain during sex, and one of those pains is a burning or stinging discomfort either during or after.

    Sound familiar? Don’t worry – you’re not alone, or so says Abbas Kanani, pharmacist at Chemist Click. “Although not uncommon, experiencing any kind of burning in your vagina can cause embarrassment or anxiety,” he shares. “Some may even come to dread sexual intercourse with their partner, when you needn’t,” he emphasises.

    FYI, there are a number of totally normal reasons why you might be feeling the burning down there, and also a number of simple ways to treat it and help soothe the pain. For our guide to why sex hurts, click here, or for expert advice from a pharmacist on why your vagina burns after sex – and vaginal care tips to help you treat it – keep reading.

    Why does my vagina burn after sex? A woman lies in pain

    10 reasons your vagina is burning after sex

    There are actually a whole host of different medical conditions and just plain old situations that can cause a woman to experience said burning. Like…?

    1. Not enough lubrication

    Your body produces natural lubrication when you are sexually stimulated, explains Kanani.

    So, if you’ve had sex without being sexually stimulated enough, or have trouble with producing enough lubrication, you could experience vaginal dryness and, in turn, burning. “Vaginal dryness increasing the chances of friction,” the pharmacist explains. “Friction causes burning, heat and sensitivity, which can lead to painful sex or pain after sex.”

    Top tip – do check out our guides to the best lubes, if you’re struggling with natural lubrication. Again, this is quite common, and nothing to worry about.

    2. UTI

    You’ll likely have had a UTI, or a Urinary Tract Infection, at some point in your lifetime. You know an itchy, burning, tingling or uncomfortable feeling in your vagina or vulva? Yep, that.

    “UTI’s can cause a burning sensation during and after sex and inflammation around the bladder and urethra, too, making any pressure around these areas during sex painful,” shares Kanani.

    While there are plenty of over the counter UTI treatments that will get rid of your infection in a few days, it’s worth visiting your GP if you haven’t experienced one before to decide the best cause of action.

    3. Rough sex

    Have you had a sex toy or lovemaking session that was, well, a bit rougher or longer than usual? “It’s quite normal to experience some discomfort afterwards,” shares Kanani. “That’s because the extra pressure and friction can cause inflammation in the area around the vagina.”

    You were warned… oh, and do read our guide to tantric sex and bondage for beginners, while you’re here.

    4. Cystitis

    You’ll have heard of cystitis, but do you know what it is or why is causes a burning in your vagina?

    “Cystitis is an infection of the bladder which can be caused by a bacterial infection or irritation to the bladder,” explains the pharmacist. “It can be brought about by friction from sex, but can also be caused by irritation from certain ingredients in soap.”

    Top tip: Be careful with what products you’re using on your vagina and vulva if you know you’re susceptible to cystitis from time to time.

    5. An allergy to sperm

    Ever heard of this one? Sometimes, your vagina will be burning because you actually have an allergy to sperm. Yep.

    “This cause burning, itching, redness and discomfort around the vaginal area,” explains the pharmacist. “This can be triggered by sex, or the skin coming into contact with sperm.”

    Do note: sperm allergy is usually caused by certain proteins found in semen, which can cause irritation in and around the vagina. If it’s causing you regular irritation, do visit your GP.

    Why does my vagina burn after sex? A woman sits in bed in pain

    6. Allergy to condoms, toys or lubricants

    There was always that one guy at school who had a rumoured latex allergy, right?

    “Certain materials – like latex – can cause irritation to the vulva, causing stinging and burning,” explains the pharmacist.

    Similarly, if these objects, like condoms, for example, have actually been inserted into your vagina, then the pain can sometimes reach inside your vaginal canal, causing internal pain, too.

    7. Vaginismus

    Ever heard of vaginismus? It’s a condition that causes your vaginal muscles to tighten involuntarily during intercourse.

    “This sometimes happens when penetration is attempted, ” explains Kanani. “This can make intercourse painful and can even prevent intercourse for some people.”

    Top tip: If you’re feeling a little anxious about penetration, investing in one of the best sex toys can be a great way of getting yourself (and your vagina) in the mood.

    8. Bacterial Vaginosis

    Did you know? Bacterial vaginosis, otherwise known as BV, disrupts the balance of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria in the vagina, resulting in the growth of harmful bacteria.

    “Symptoms include pain or burning after sex, itchiness inside the vagina, strong smelling discharge that is usually green in colour and pain when urinating,” says Kanani.

    9. Sexually Transmitted Infections

    STIs such as genital herpes and chlamydia can cause painful intercourse and burning after sex. “Genital herpes can also cause sores and blisters, which in turn lead to pain when having sex,” explains the expert.

    10. Contraception

    FYI, some contraceptive pills and contraceptive rings can cause vaginal dryness, which in turn can lead to painful sex and a burning sensation in your vagina. “This is because these methods of contraception reduce your natural production of hormones, which can thin the skin around the genital region,” explains Kanani.

    Bottom line: if you think any of the above might be happening to you, you need to make a judgement call about whether or not it’s worth booking an appointment with your GP.

    Some conditions, like BV or an STI, will require medication and you seeing a doctor.

    Others, like UTIs and cystitis, are easily treatable with over the counter solutions. Your pharmacist could help you with this, if you head in-store.

    Why does my vagina burn after sex? Hands of African American woman holding prescription medicine

    What do I do to stop a burning vagina after sex?

    Applying a cold compress

    An icepack or cold compress can sometimes help ease your discomfort. “It can stop the burning by numbing the area,” Kanani explains.

    Top tip: Use a towel or cloth as a barrier and make sure to use the pack on and off for five minutes at a time.

    Opt for a lubricant

    Burning in your vagina can sometimes be caused by vaginal dryness, as outlined above.

    Kanani’s tip is to use a water based lubricants pre and during sex – they’re less irritating and help to reduce friction, which should mean no burning afterwards, he says.

    “This should help to relieve pain, and there are also certain anaesthetic gels which you can apply ten to fifteen minutes before sex to help to numb pain,” he explains. Do note here: he says you should only use these gels if your doctor advises you to do so.

    Try medication

    If you have any of the infections mentioned above, medication could help.

    “Antibiotics from your doctor can help to clear the infection and reduce symptoms, plus antihistamines can reduce any symptoms from mild allergies,” he shares.

    Buy hypoallergenic products

    As the pharmacist has explained, certain materials and ingredients in lubes, toys and condoms may cause burning, so identifying these – and then avoiding them where necessary – is key.

    “Try to opt for natural, water-based options to reduce the chances of allergy,” advises Kanani. “It may take a while, but it’s definitely worth trying a few different products to find what works best for you.”

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    So, when do I see a doctor?

    This one is important and unique to each individual. Remember, no advice on the Internet can replace seeing a qualified professional IRL, so do trust your gut and book a GP appointment if you’re worried.

    Kanani says: “If pain and irritation is persistent, or lasts for longer than one to two days, you should see your doctor. Unexplained pain, bleeding, discharge, and general discomfort should always be investigated.”

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