How To Deal If Your Vagina Is Sore After Sex

Photographed by Ashley Armitage.
Waddling around when you're sore after sex is about as fun as having sore muscles after a tough workout. Luckily, there are a few ways to soothe your pain post-sex, but first you have to figure out what's causing it.
If you're someone with a vagina, there are two types of pain that you should be aware of, entry pain and deep pain, says Carolyn Alexander, MD, FCOG, a board-certified Ob/Gyn at Southern California Reproductive Center in Los Angeles. Both of these types have different culprits and require different treatments.
With entry pain, you may feel soreness around the vulva during or after penetration, and often it's caused by a lubrication issue, Dr. Alexander says. "If the person hasn't had intimacy in a long time, sometimes that can cause some soreness there." Or if you have a vaginal infection (like a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis), irritation in your vaginal canal might contribute to the pain during sex, according to the Mayo Clinic. Usually, this type of pain is caused by friction, and it isn't a huge deal, but it can be pretty uncomfortable.
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On the other hand, deep pain is a little more serious, Dr. Alexander says. Certain pelvic conditions, like endometriosis or ovarian cysts, can sometimes cause a deep pain during penetration, she says. Or if you have an STI (like gonorrhea or chlamydia), there can be irritation on the cervix, she says. "If people have very severe pain during intercourse or after, that would alarm me," she says. See your Ob/Gyn for an evaluation if this kind of pain is persistent.
But if you're just dealing with entry pain caused by a little friction, ahead are some ways to find some relief.
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Sit in epsom salts.

Soaking in epsom salts can relax your muscles and reduce any inflammation, Dr. Alexander says. "If you don't have a bath tub, just find something to sit in a bit of epsom salt and water," she says. But steer clear of scented bath bombs, which could actually upset your vaginal pH, or irritate your skin even more.
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Ice your vagina.

Apply an ice pack to your crotch area to help get rid of any swelling or pain, Dr. Alexander says. Just make sure you're using an ice pack that's not intended for food, and wash it thoroughly before and after using.
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Slip in some lube.

If you use lube during sex, that might prevent some vaginal pain afterwards. But you can also insert a water-based lube inside your vagina after sex for a "cooling and soothing" effect, Dr. Alexander says. She recommends Astroglide or KY Jelly, since those might be less slippery than other lubes.
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Wear cotton underwear.

Cotton underwear tends to be more breathable than synthetic underwear, Dr. Alexander says. If you're experiencing pain due to a vaginal infection, then wearing breathable underwear will help your infection heal, and ultimately make the pain go away faster. Sometimes Dr. Alexander suggests that patients sleep sans-underwear "so the vagina can breathe."
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Switch up your sex positions.

Some people tend to experience deep pain while being penetrated from behind, like in a doggy style position. If that happens to you, consider trying a different position the next time you have sex to see if that helps reduce the pain afterwards, Dr. Alexander says. The key is to choose positions that allow the receiver to control the depth and speed of penetration. Need ideas? Try these.
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Take ibuprofen.

Occasionally Dr. Alexander tells patients to take an Advil or ibuprofen before sex to make it more comfortable afterwards. If you know when you're going to have sex and can plan it right, that might be worth a try.
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