Vaginal Pain After Sex During Pregnancy

Vaginal pain after sex during pregnancy can be frustrating, but it is usually not serious. Many women find that staying hydrated, using lubricant, and experimenting with sexual positions can help reduce discomfort.

Painful sex is often related to the size of the belly and where baby is resting in the pelvis, says Minkin. It can also be caused by swelling in the vulva or a yeast infection.

Causes

The uterus becomes larger as the pregnancy progresses, and it’s not unusual for this to cause pain during sexual activity. Also, the extra weight puts pressure on the bladder and cervix, and this can make sex uncomfortable. This is especially true if you don’t use lubricant to increase the ease of penetration.

The hormone progesterone increases throughout the pregnancy, and this can make the tissues of the vagina softer and more sensitive. This can contribute to pain after sex, as well as itching and a thick discharge.

A yeast infection may be to blame, as pregnant women are more prone to this because of the changes in hormones and the increased sugar that enters the body from the fetus. These symptoms, which include itching and a white or yellow discharge, can irritate the genital area and aggravate the pain during intercourse.

Round ligament pain, a condition that occurs when the ligaments that attach the front of the uterus to the pelvic floor stretch during pregnancy, can also be painful during sex. These pains are more common in the second trimester, Levitt says.

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Other causes of pain after sex include infections in the genital or pelvic area, a slipped uterus (rectum hernia), scarring from previous surgeries or medical treatments, and issues with the cervix, such as a perforated hymen (dyspareunia). Stress and anxiety during the pregnancy can lower a woman’s level of arousal, which can contribute to discomfort.

Symptoms

Having painful sex is not unusual during pregnancy, but it can be distressing and affect quality of life. Understanding what to expect, different types of pain, and ways to find relief can make the experience more enjoyable. In many cases, the discomfort can be managed with a water-based lubricant, experimenting with safe sex positions, and communicating with your partner about your needs. If pain persists or is accompanied by bleeding or other symptoms, it’s important to seek medical attention as it could indicate an infection or other health issue.

The extra weight of the baby can put pressure on the pelvic muscles and lead to discomfort during sex. A change in hormones can also cause the cervix to feel tighter or more sensitive. This can result in a stinging sensation or sharp pain, especially during penetration. Inflammation of the Bartholin glands can cause a painful swelling in the vagina.

Hormonal changes can cause a drier vagina, which can add to the friction of penetration and contribute to pain. A swollen or itchy vulva, pain when peeing, and odorless, thick, lumpy, or yellowish discharge may be signs of a yeast infection. A urinary tract infection (UTI) is more common in pregnant women because of the increased blood flow to the pelvis. Your OB/GYN can prescribe a pregnancy-safe antibiotic to treat it.

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Treatment

The good news is that a bit of pain during sex while pregnant typically isn’t anything to worry about. However, it’s always worth flagging any discomfort with your OB/GYN to make sure you’re comfortable and safe.

Pain may occur because of the extra pressure on your cervix. This could be due to the size of your growing bump or the position of your baby. It also may be caused by a yeast infection. These infections are common during pregnancy because of the change in hormones, and signs include itching, a thick white discharge and a burning feeling.

You can treat a yeast infection with oral antibiotics or vaginal lubricants to help ease the irritation. You can also try pelvic floor exercises and a diet of high-fiber foods to help prevent an infection in the future.

If the pain you’re experiencing is sharp and severe, or accompanied by bleeding, then it’s time to call your doctor. This pain can be a sign of preterm labor and it’s important to get checked out as soon as possible.

A physical exam and a sample of your vaginal fluid will help your healthcare provider diagnose the underlying cause of your pain. They may also order a pelvic ultrasound or laparoscopy. A pelvic pain specialist can assess the pelvic muscles and help you find a treatment that works for you.

Prevention

Vaginal pain after sex during pregnancy can be a frustrating and uncomfortable experience, but it is important to communicate with your partner and prioritize comfort for the health of yourself and your baby. Using a water-based lubricant, trying different positions, and practicing relaxation techniques can help alleviate symptoms. However, it is also important to see a doctor if pain or discomfort persists or worsens. This can help diagnose and treat the underlying cause.

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In rare cases, pain after sex during pregnancy may be a sign of a more serious condition. This can include uterine fibroids, a pelvic infection, cervical incompetence, or sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia and genital herpes. If pain is accompanied by other symptoms, such as fever, chills, or vaginal discharge, seek medical attention immediately.

Pregnancy hormones increase blood flow to the pelvic area, which can result in enlarged veins (varicose veins) in the area of the vagina and vulva. These can be painful during sex and often feel like pressure in the vulva or deep ache in the abdomen after intercourse. To prevent this, drink plenty of water, wear loose clothing and cotton panties, and use condoms with new partners or multiple partners to avoid sexually transmitted infections. These infections can lead to severe health complications for both mother and baby.

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