Why does sex hurt all of a sudden? 9 causes for pain during sex – and when to see a doctor
If you've found that having sex has started to hurt all of a sudden, you may be wondering why this may be the case.
Luckily, you'll be reassured to know that it's a common complaint, and can be easily treated at home or via a visit to your healthcare provider.
Why does sex hurt all of a sudden?
Here, we break down some of the most common reasons why you may be experiencing sudden pain during intercourse.
From vaginal infections to estrogen deprivation, here are some possible reasons why you may find that sex hurts all of a sudden...
1. Vaginal infection
You can get a vaginal infection for a number of reasons – including taking antibiotics, having sex that changes the vaginal PH amongst other things. It's often referred to as non-specific bacterial vaginosis in the medical world, per WebMD.
Some of the symptoms include burning, stinging, itching, a fishy odour, discharge — and yep, painful sex.
If you suspect you have a vaginal infection, please visit your healthcare provider. Often, it can be treated with a local antibiotic vaginal cream.
2. Yeast infection
One specific type of vaginal infection that can cause sudden, painful sex is a yeast infection. These are incredibly common, and the main symptoms are itchiness and a cottage cheese-esque discharge.
It's often caused by something wiping out the vagina's natural flora, which leaves behind just the yeast. Taking antibiotics, birth control, estrogen hormones, and even being pregnant are common culprits.
Luckily, it can be easily treated by a trip to your doctor, who will likely prescribe anti-yeast medication. This normally takes the form of a prescription pill, or vaginal cream. But you can also treat it with over-the-counter vaginal creams or suppositories.
3. Sexually transmitted infections
If you have a sexually transmitted disease (STD), you may experience pain during sex.
These include genital warts, gonorrhoea, chlamydia, herpes and syphilis. They can spread through not only sex but also skin-to-skin contact. And if left untreated for long enough, STDs can cause changes to your nether regions that make sex uncomfortable or even painful.
Please visit your healthcare provider, or sexual health clinic if you believe you have an STD.
Another cause of painful sex is vaginismus or muscle spasms of the outer muscles of the vagina.
They can occur the very first time you have intercourse, but also later in life.
It's often believed to be part of a psychological issue, such as a history of sexual abuse, fears and anxieties around sex, and strong anti-sexual feelings.
The treatment often combines sexual therapy and the use of special dilators and personal lubricants.
5. Lichen Sclerosis
Lichen Sclerosis is a disorder wherein the skin around the genitals becomes thin and white.
It can cause burning, pain and discomfort during intercourse. If you suspect you suffer from the condition, consult your doctor, who will conduct a biopsy.
It's usually treated with a strong steroid cream known as Clobetasol.
6. Lack of estrogen
A deprivation of estrogen can result in a lack of lubrication and a thinning of the tissues of the vagina. This can, of course, cause sharp, sudden pain during sex.
There are a number of reasons why you may be experiencing low levels of estrogen. They include childbirth, breastfeeding, taking birth control pills and menopause.
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Luckily, estrogen can be easily replenished. Doctors will commonly prescribe estrogen creams, tablets or insert a ring into the vagina, which releases the hormone over time.
Alternatively, if you are experiencing menopause, your healthcare provider may suggest hormone replacement therapy.
Those who have vulvodynia experience a very strong sensitivity in the vulva. This is most common in the vestibulum, which is also known as the lower part of the vagina.
Penetration can cause severe burning or a stinging-like pain.
While the cause of the condition is unknown, it has been linked with yeast infections, antibiotics and laser treatments of cryosurgery. It has also been found to occur more frequently in women who have bladder issues.
Treatment usually begins with soothing ointments and lubricants. However, in some cases, doctors may advise undergoing surgery to remove the sensitive tissue of the vestibulum.
Endometriosis is a painful condition wherein the tissue that lines the uterus grows outside it.
One of the symptoms of the condition is painful sex. So, if you suspect you're suffering from it, please pay a visit to your healthcare provider, who can diagnose it.
Then, you can move onto the necessary treatment.
9. Pelvic inflammatory disease
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) occurs when tissues deep inside the vagina become badly inflamed. This can cause severe pain during intercourse.
If you suspect you are suffering from PID, pay a visit to your doctor.
It’s usually caused by a sexually transmitted infection, like chlamydia or gonorrhoea. The good news is, you can easily treat it with antibiotics.