Experiencing Pain after Sex? Start Your Path to Healing!

| Dr. Ariel Cole

Are you trying to understand why you may have a sore vagina after sex or why you may have pain in your vulvar area? In this post, you will begin to understand your pain and find a path to healing!

What causes pain after sex?

There are many reasons why a person with a vulva or a vagina has pain after sexual intercourse or penetration. Below are a couple of reasons why.

  • Suppose pain is very new to you; it comes on quickly and is very painful. In that case, this could be due to an active yeast infection, urinary tract infection, sexually transmitted disease, and or a skin rash/ irritation.
  • If you are experiencing sharp, shooting, variable but intense pain that began after a movement, you are likely experiencing nerve pain. This pain could be starting from your low back, sacroiliac joint, or your hips.
  • Deeper penetration that is painful but with a change of positions during intercourse can likely go away; many times, this is due to hip or low back weakness, pain, or differences from side to side (asymmetries).
  • If you have always had pain with penetration during foreplay or tampon usage, this could mean that you have a pelvic floor muscle that is unable or untrained to adapt to the “new environment”, and therefore, is painful.
  • During postpartum times, breastfeeding, or when menopausal states are beginning or have occurred for longer periods the tissue of the vulva and or the vagina may become dry, increase, or decrease in sensitivity, and or become irritated.

Providers who can aid you in the recovery from pain

  • Seek care with your primary healthcare provider, examples of this may be your physician, physician’s assistant, OBGYN, midwife, nurse practitioner, or sexual health provider.
    • This provider will diagnose possible conditions that would cause pain or give a referral for care to a more appropriate provider.
  • Many states throughout the country have what is called “direct access.” Direct access would allow you to go directly to the physical therapist and discuss the issue at hand if you believe it is a nerve or muscle-related problem if you have a non-government covered insurance plan. A physical therapist’s job is to care for your body’s musculoskeletal system and conditions related to this.

Possible next steps

  • Medical intervention from the provider
  • Physical therapy: The provider will perform an evaluation and provide treatment for the pelvic floor, low back, and hips as well as provide an increased understanding and education on how to aid the problem at hand.
  • Chiropractic care: The provider will conduct an assessment and treatment of low back and hip immobility.
  • Alternative medicine providers: They will discuss symptoms that go along with pain and find alternative solutions.

Bottom Line

If you are having pain after sex and or pain in the vulvar region, this is not normal or something to ignore. Many underlying conditions would cause pain with penetration into the vaginal area. It is best to seek care and rule in or rule out conditions to begin eliminating the pain. Pain that persists longer than six weeks is not normal and may not go away without intervention. If you determine a physical therapist is the appropriate provider for your pelvic pain, contact Live Your Life for a free consultation.

For a GREAT read regarding pelvic pain:

  • Come As You Are: the new science that will transform your sex life: Emily Nagoski
  • Why Pelvic Pain Hurts: Adriaan Louw
  • When Sex Hurts: A Woman’s Guide to Banishing Sexual Pain: Andrew Goldstein MD, Caroline Pukall Ph.D., Irwin Goldstein MD.
  • Pelvic Pain Explained: Stephanie Prendergast, Elizabeth Akincilar
  • Facing Pelvic Pain: A Guide For Patients and their Families: Elise J.B De, M, Theodore A Stern MD.

Websites to access information:

Dr. Ariel Cole, graduated with two degrees from St. Catherine University. A B.S in Exercise and Sports Science (2013) and Doctorate of Physical Therapy (2016). She has experience rooted in pelvic floor therapy, orthopedic therapy, and acute care. For the last 6 years she has had a special interest in providing cares for individuals who are pregnant and postpartum, and those who are experiencing urine and bowel incontinence, constipation and or diarrhea, pelvic pain, chronic low back pain, and sexual dysfunction.

Ariel is a dynamic and positive provider who enjoys working in teamwork with her clients. She understands that each person comes with a unique background, history, and life circumstances that require good communication and problem solving to reach their goals! Personal interests include community education, advocacy, working with underserved communities, and female anatomy related issues. At LYLPT, she wishes to aid people of all walks of life achieve their goals and is willing to be creative to do so!

Daily life is spent caring for her family of 5, husband and teenage children, as well as her dog! Life is a mix of hiking, biking, exploring, dog parks, art shows and live music. Traveling has given her the opportunity to be in solidarity with people of other cultures, lifestyles, and religions.

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