It’s fairly easy to diagnose the pain that occurs down there if you’ve just had a lot of sex. But there are other types of discomfort that are more serious and the causes aren’t so easy to identify. Read on to learn six of the most common causes of vaginal pain.
This is not just an issue for postmenopausal women. Sometimes low estrogen birth control pills cause young women to experience vaginal dryness, too. This can make sex painful because estrogen is a moisturizer. It’s time to check in with your doctor if you’re experiencing vaginal dryness. “It’s an easy fix because we can treat you with topical estrogen or put you on a higher-estrogen birth control pill,” says Minkin.
According to the CDC, about one out of every six American adults will get herpes in their lifetime. “Patients will call me at 1 in the morning and say, ‘I found a lump on my bottom,'” says Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale School of Medicine. “My first question—after I groggily wake up—is, ‘Does it hurt like a son of a bitch?’ If the answer is yes, it’s likely herpes. And if the answer is no, it can’t be herpes.” Visible blisters and pain that is intense come with the STD. Make sure to contact your doctor immediately if you spot a blister or bump down below.
While they don’t usually cause pain, they can cause a lot of dryness and itchiness in the vagina, which can be perceived as pain. The chances are very high that you’ll experience a yeast infection during your lifetime. If this is the first time you’re dealing with the condition, seek a doctor’s opinion before you turn to OTC medications.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease or Endometriosis
You might have endometriosis (when the tissue that typically lines your uterus grows in other spots) if you have pain during your period and during penetration. Or, you may have pelvic inflammatory disease (an infection of a woman’s reproductive organs). Aside from pain and other symptoms of these conditions is excessive bleeding during the period. Make sure to visit your OBGYN if you suspect you have either of these issues.
“Is it really pain in your vagina that you’re experiencing, or is it pain during penetration—something you feel inside your belly?” asks Minkin. “It can be very hard to differentiate.” You may need to switch positions to something more comfortable if your partner’s penis is large.
This will happen to approximately 9% of women in their lives. The pain usually occurs during penetration — even during tampon insertion. Some women who experience this pain do so spontaneously, unrelated to sex or touching in that area. Doctors who diagnose this condition often treat it with topical medications such as lidocaine. If you have any pain in your vaginal area, schedule an appointment with your doctor and don’t try to diagnose yourself.