Q&A: Vagina Hurts Or Burns, Pain After Sex

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QUESTION: My boyfriend and I have been together for two years and most recently after sex my vagina hurts, sometimes burns. Is that normal or should I be worried?

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Although many women experience vaginal itching and burning at some point in their lives, it is always worth looking into.

In some cases, vaginal itching and burning can be a sign of a sexually transmissible infection, also called an STI, so it is important to check in with a healthcare provider to rule out this possibility even if you feel as though there is little to no risk of that possibility.

Possible Causes

Other times, women experience vaginal itching or burning in response to chemicals or materials that they are sensitive to. For example, some women find that they experience vaginal irritation in response to certain lubricants or condoms, but not others.

If you and your boyfriend are using lubricated condoms, then you might try to use a non-lubricated condom and add some of your own lubricant, such as one that is hypoallergenic or unlikely to cause irritation. The brand Good Clean Love, for example, is made without some of the common irritants found in certain popular brands of lubricants. Another lubricant that has been formulated to reduce the risk of irritation is called Pink.

Although uncommon, some women are allergic or hypersensitive to men’s semen. Some of these women have always been allergic or hypersensitive to semen, whereas other women develop an allergy or hypersensitivity over time, and may experience itching, burning, redness or other irritant reactions after they are exposed to semen, such as during intercourse. In rare cases, women may experience more severe reactions that require a visit to the emergency room.

Check In With A Healthcare Provider

For all of these reasons, it is important to check in with a healthcare provider when one experiences persistent vaginal irritation. Regular gynecological exams are recommended for women who are sexually active, anyway, and are particularly encouraged when vaginal symptoms are present.

You can learn more about sexual and reproductive health needs of women, as well as locate a health care clinic near you if needed, from Planned Parenthood.

Dr. Debby Herbenick (M.P.H., Ph.D.)

is a sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, Associate Director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University and author of several books including Sex Made Easy and Because It Feels Good: A Woman's Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction.
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