Women often experience pain after sex, and it’s important to understand why. Although this symptom is rarely serious, it could indicate an underlying medical issue that requires attention.
Stomach pain after sex may be caused by any number of factors. If you experience regular or persistent post-sex abdominal pain, you should see a doctor.
For most of us, sex is associated with physical pleasure. However, painful sex doesn’t get as much attention. If you’re experiencing pain in the lower abdomen after sex it may be a sign of a medical issue. In some cases, painful sex can be caused by vaginal infections or pelvic disorders like endometriosis or uterine fibroids. This is why it’s important to see a doctor to discuss the issue and find a solution.
During sex, the body releases hormones that cause your pelvic muscles to contract. This can lead to orgasms, which are a good thing, but can also cause cramping in the lower abdomen and pelvis. These cramps are similar to those you would experience during your period. This is why it’s important to have a good quality lubricant during sex or use heating pads before and after sex to reduce uterine cramping.
Endometriosis is a disease that affects about 1.5 million women and those assigned female at birth in the UK. It occurs when cells resembling those in the lining of your womb (uterus) start to grow elsewhere in the body, including on your fallopian tubes and ovaries. Every month these cells build up, break down and bleed. However, unlike when this happens in the uterus, the blood can’t escape and is left in your pelvic area.
Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths that form in the wall of your uterus (womb). They can cause pain and heavy, irregular vaginal bleeding. Fibroids can also increase your risk of having an ovarian cyst (a fluid-filled sac) on one or both of your ovaries.
Your ovaries are small organs that produce hormones, including estrogen and progesterone, which help develop the uterine lining each month in preparation for pregnancy. Each ovary grows a follicle that contains an egg. About two weeks before your period, the follicle ruptures, releasing the egg for potential fertilization and pregnancy. Some women have sex when they’re ovulating, which can cause abdominal cramping.
A hysteroscopy or laparoscopy can be used to check for uterine fibroids and other conditions that might be causing your pain after sex. During these procedures, doctors insert a thin tube with a camera into your uterus through the cervix. They might also take a tissue sample for a biopsy.
If you’re not sure what’s causing your pain, talk to your doctor about it. They might recommend using a heating pad or taking over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). If your pain is severe, they may suggest a hysteroscopy or a procedure called embolization. Both of these procedures involve injecting a small amount of a clot-dissolving medicine into the fibroid. This can make it easier to remove the fibroid surgically.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
If your stomach hurts after sex it’s important to see your gynecologist right away. She will ask about your symptoms and your sexual and medical history. She will do a pelvic exam with you sitting up or lying down (a female chaperone is usually offered). Swabs may be taken from the vagina and cervix to test for an infection. The results will take a few days to come back. She may also do an ultrasound or a laparoscopy to check for any abnormalities in your uterus or fallopian tubes, or for cysts or fibroids.
If she thinks you have PID, she will probably prescribe antibiotics to clear the infection. This will likely be a mixture of pills and an injection. It’s important to finish the whole course of antibiotics to avoid the infection returning. Your doctor may also want to test your recent sexual partners to make sure they haven’t got an STD that could have caused the infection.
You should not ignore pain in your stomach after sex, especially if it’s accompanied by other symptoms such as unusual vaginal discharge or bleeding or fever. The longer you wait to get treatment for PID, the more likely it is that you will have long-lasting problems such as infertility or damage to your fallopian tubes. The good news is that prompt antibiotic treatment can prevent this.
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
When people discuss sex, they usually talk about pleasure. But painful sex doesn’t get as much attention—and it can be really frustrating. The pain you feel during and after sex is called dyspareunia, and it can occur for many reasons.
For example, a UTI can cause pain in the lower abdomen after sex. This is because bacteria can travel from the anus to the urethra, and then into the bladder or kidneys. UTIs can be uncomfortable, but a doctor can prescribe antibiotics and the symptoms should go away in a few days.
Sperm is an irritant to the uterus, and it can sometimes trigger a uterine contraction. That’s why it’s not uncommon for women to feel lingering pelvic cramps after orgasm. These cramps are normal and should subside soon after you take some deep breaths or relax. If they persist, it’s a sign of something more serious—like pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID is a bacterial infection that affects the female reproductive organs and the gut. It can result from untreated sexually transmitted infections (STIs), like chlamydia, gonorrhea and mycoplasma.
As you can see, there are many possible causes of pain after sex. It’s not always a big deal, but you should consult your doctor if it happens frequently or lasts more than a few hours. Using a heating pad and taking NSAIDs can help reduce your pain.