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Pain during sex, known medically as dyspareunia, is not uncommon. Most times, it can be harmless and can be soothed by  

Sex is supposed to feel good after all, so of course, if you’re experiencing pain and discomfort during or after sex, it can be worrying so it’s important to inform your partner (and a gynaecologist) about what you’re feeling.  

Pain during or after sex is not common unless it’s your first time, according to Mary Jane Minkin M.D, in an interview with SELF. But as with everything, just because it’s not normal doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen – The American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists says that nearly three out of four women will have pain during sex at some point during their lives. 

Lubrication 

One of the most common causes of pain during or after sex is not enough lubrication. Although our vaginas produce lubrication naturally, many reasons can impact the amount produced such as your age, birth control and certain medications. When there is not enough lubrication, the friction caused during sex can lead to tiny tears in the skin in your vagina, which can make you more prone to infection and can be the reason your vagina hurts after sex. 

In terms of what you can do to help, use more lube! Even after sex, it can help to moisturise and soothe the area- but make sure you stay away from lubrication with alcohol in it to ensure it won’t end up stinging the tears on the skin. In future, don’t be afraid to lob on the lube (honestly Durex hit me up for that tag line) to prevent friction from causing pain! 

Not enough (or no) foreplay 

Sometimes if we jump straight into sex when we haven’t engaged in foreplay, we may not be sufficiently aroused, meaning a lack of lubrication. For those of us with vaginas, foreplay is so important to get you in the mood for sex, as it arouses you enough to lubricate your vagina. Make sure you speak to your partner about this, and if you don’t feel aroused enough going into sex, apply lubricant! 

Rough Sex – Too Much Friction 

If you’ve had some rough sex, it is common for your vagina to be sore afterwards. To help with this, try resting a cold compress on the outside of your underwear (not inside your vagina!!!!) for around 10 minutes. If it still hurts after a few days, talk to your doctor about it! In the future, start off slow before getting into rough sex to ease yourself into it! 

Allergy to Latex or Lube. 

There are many people who may be allergic to latex or lube, specifically the ingredients in the lube. If you’re using products with something you’re allergic to in the ingredients list, this can irritate your vagina. In the case of condoms – if you are allergic to latex try using latex-free condoms! In the case of lube, sometimes as I mentioned people can be allergic to ingredients contained in the product and this can cause redness, burning and swelling of your vagina. Speak to your gynaecologist if you think you may be allergic to ingredients in lube, or latex to confirm this.  

Vaginal infection 

If your pain and discomfort go beyond just slight soreness (if you have abnormal discharge, pelvic pain, itching or burning) you may have a vaginal infection such as a yeast infection, bacterial vaginosis or an STI – if you are experiencing these symptoms, speak to your doctor as you may need prescription medication. 

Medical Conditions 

There are a few medical conditions that may result in pain during or after sex. These can include endometriosis, uterine fibroids, vulvodynia, pelvic inflammatory disease, ovarian cysts, cervicitis, and vaginismus.  

To get these diagnosed, schedule an appointment with your doctor.  

If sex is causing you pain, please talk to your gynaecologist. Whether it’s a short-term issue that’s causing you pain or an ongoing long-term medical condition, they will be able to help you in terms of pain management and tips for how to deal with it in the future. 

My name is Emma, and I'm originally from the north west of Ireland! I'm a journalism student in DCU, and have loved reading and writing ever since I was young. I'm a big lover of music, and also do some modelling work on the side!
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