Ideally, sex is supposed to feel good. Like... really good, right? That’s one of the main reasons why most people have sex after all. However, some also believe that painful sex is "normal", preventing them from fully enjoying all pleasures that sex has to offer. Despite this being a common misconception, the truth is: Sex should not hurt.
Did you know that 3 out of 4 women experience burning and discomfort during sex at some point in their lives? If you can relate to this issue, then you’re likely looking for a solution with hopes of getting back to painless sex life. After all who doesn’t want to enjoy pleasurable sex?
Why does it happen?
Multiple reasons cause a burning sensation during or after sex. Chances are, should you visit a doctor they would be most interested in investigating several factors to arrive at the correct diagnosis. Some of these factors could be:
Where it burns
How often do you feel the burning
When you feel the burning
To understand why it happens, we will focus on the last factor.
Burning sensation during penetration
Here are some possible causes:
Lack of arousal - It’s important that you are in the mood and turned on enough for sex. Without it, sex can be painful due to a lack of proper lubrication.
Infections - Yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, urinary tract infections and STIs can all cause burning. →Remember, only 30% of people with STIs show symptoms so be sure to get tested and treated early.
Irritation - Irritation in the vaginal area can lead to a burning sensation. Sometimes it’s due to lubricants that alter the vaginal ph. Other times it could be an allergy to latex condoms.
Fissures - These are small tears/cracks in the skin of the vulva, vagina or anus. Which occur during or after sexual activity especially when there was little lubrication.
Vaginismus - A condition that causes the outer muscles of the pelvic floor to constrict or spasm, resulting in dryness, pain, and burning.
Vestibulodynia - Also called Vulvodynia, is a condition that causes pain or burning at the opening of the vagina during sex because the nerve endings in the vagina are hypersensitive.
Vaginal dryness - The fluctuations of hormones during the different stages can cause vaginal dryness. Some of these stages are:
Your menstrual cycle - At certain times of your cycle, your vaginal tissue may be drier. For example before your period due to the rise of the progesterone hormone.
Hormonal contraceptives - Being on contraceptives for more than 5 years can cause the testosterone hormone levels to reduce. Since testosterone aids lubrication, if too low it causes dryness and a burning sensation during sex.
Childbirth & breastfeeding - This causes a decrease in estrogen levels that in return causes a decreased level of blood to the genitals causing reduced lubrication.
Menopause - The transition to menopause and menopause itself can hinder the body from naturally lubricating itself causing the burning sensation.
Burning sensation after ejaculation
What if it happens after ejaculation? The most common reason for this is a semen allergy. Didn’t know that’s a thing? Well, yes it is! Though very rare, some women experience swelling/itching when the ejaculation comes into contact with a particular area.
Burning sensation after the end of sexual activity
What if it occurs after sexual activity? Here are some possible causes:
Lack of proper hygiene/cleaning - Do you know why it is advised to pee after sex? To flush excess semen away. The moisture could lead to irritation and potentially a yeast infection.
Douching & vaginal products - It’s one thing to clean up after, but douching and using scented products will always be a no-no! Vaginas are self-cleaning and you will never be required to use anything other than water or maybe a soft cloth. You can read how to clean your vagina for more information.
Choice of underwear - Try to avoid non-absorbent/non-breathable materials that could cause irritation and infections. You should also be mindful of the types of detergents you use to wash your underwear to avoid irritation.
When should I see a doctor?
After reading all this, it. can be tempting to diagnose yourself but DON’T! Instead, use this as a guide to help you understand the issue. If you have only experienced the burning sensation once or just a few times, then no need to be alarmed. However, if this is the norm in your sex life, you need to consult a doctor who will be better placed to prescribe the right medication for you depending on the cause.
Sex should be fun, and no matter what you get up to, you should not accept a burning sensation as a normal thing. If you experience this kind of pain, know that you are not alone and it’s quite common. The good news is that it can be treated and you can get back to enjoying sex as soon as possible.
Stay informed, stay in control. Was that helpful? Share in the comments!