Why does it burn when I have sex?

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Sex is supposed to be a pleasurable and satisfying experience for both you and your partner, however it can be difficult to enjoy it when it results in pain. Discovering the cause of this pain isn’t always easy and you may be too embarrassed to speak to a doctor about this issue.

Many women experience a burning sensation during sexual intercourse at some point in their lives. It may come and go, but when it does recur, it can be frustrating. 

Why does my vagina burn after sex?

There are numerous reasons why your vagina could be burning during or after sex. We’ve listed some of the most common ones below.

Too much friction

If you’re having sexual intercourse very regularly or you aren’t producing enough natural lubrication, excess friction during sex could result in tears or rips in the vaginal tissue. It’s this irritation that could be causing a burning sensation during or after intercourse. This is why lubrication is so important. Foreplay can help to arouse a woman and make sure that she’s ready for intercourse, however if you believe that you aren’t producing enough lubrication, you could use a water-based lubricant to help the problem.


Allergies to products

If you already use lube during sex, you should ensure that you aren’t having an allergic reaction to it. If you have sensitive skin, you should switch to a water-based lubricant that is more gentle. You may be experiencing an allergic reaction to another product too, such as the latex in condoms. Have a think about some of the items you use during intercourse and try to decipher which one could be causing burning.


Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

Some STIs can cause a burning sensation during sex or when you go for a wee. Chlamydia and Trichomoniasis can both cause pain during sex, as well as other symptoms including cloudy discharge that’s yellow or green in colour, bleeding between periods and itching around the vaginal area. If you’ve recently had unprotected sex and are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, you should book an appointment with your doctor to be tested.


What is vulvodynia?

Vulvodynia is one of the most common causes of pain during sex, however it often goes undiagnosed. This condition has no obvious cause, which frequently confuses doctors and explains why it is rarely diagnosed.

The condition is thought to affect around 16 per cent of women and, in some cases, it can stop women from having intercourse and sitting for long periods of time. It can cause pain in the vagina and around the vulva (the external sex organs, including the clitoris and labia). The pain could feel like a burning or stinging sensation and may get worse during sex or when sitting down. The condition could last from a few weeks to a few years.

Some people believe that it is caused by trauma to the vagina, such as during childbirth or surgery, while others think that it could be a result of a genital infection. The NHS suggests that it could be caused by damage to the nerves in the vagina. While there is uncertainty over its cause, there are some treatment options available. You should speak to your doctor to discuss the best course of treatment for you.

To ease the symptoms of Vulvodynia, you may want to try wearing cotton underwear and avoid using soaps or body washes that contain strong chemicals in the vaginal area. Instead, use a soap-free feminine hygiene wash that is gentle on the skin and will help to restore the natural pH balance. You should also try to swap scented toilet paper and tampons for scent-free varieties.

You should try to maintain a normal sex life as the vagina could become more sensitive to the pain if you stop having sex or exercising. If you do experience a lot of pain during sex, perhaps you and your partner could work to find some other things to do in the bedroom besides sex.

It’s worth noting that vaginal pain isn’t always caused by Vulvodynia. Thrush and a drop in oestrogen levels can also cause pain in this area, so keep an eye on your symptoms and consult your doctor if you’re worried.


Is burning after sex normal?

A burning sensation after sex is very common and isn’t something you should be too worried about. It could be something minor, such as vaginal dryness, that is causing the burning. If the discomfort doesn’t go away, you could consult your doctor for advice or an examination to determine the cause. 


* This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. You should consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of all medical conditions.