Here's Why Your Vagina Might Feel Sore After You Orgasm
Flo Oliveira was right about to orgasm—but then they felt a distinct pain in their vagina. "[It] felt like cramps, almost as if my pelvic floor couldn't clench down fully to orgasm. It just felt stuck," said the nonbinary sex educator, 23, from California.
The sensation lasted for about five minutes, and Oliveira, understandably, couldn't ignore it. "I had to immediately stop all sexual activity and penetration," they said. "I would just curl up [in the] fetal position and breathe through it." This was the only way they could manage the ache.
The cramps popped up when they were on the brink of an orgasm on and off for months. This caused Oliveira to associate sexual experiences with uncertainty and worry.
"I feel like my anxiety of it happening usually made it happen again. Most times, if it happened out of nowhere, [it] really [messed] with my mental health," they said. "It was mostly around the time I felt something was wrong in the relationship, too. I feel like my body was warning me about what I already knew but was ignoring."
This uncomfortable interruption can feel annoying, even upsetting. Here's what experts had to say about why it happens and what can help.
Vaginal pain when aroused is indeed a thing
You can experience vaginal pain when you're turned on for many reasons, such as an increase of blood flow.
"It's all to do with the blood that rushes to the genitals before intercourse," said Agnieszka Nalewczyńska, M.D., Ph.D., a consultant gynecologist at RegenLab. "This blood causes the walls of the vulva to stretch, and since it is covered in mechanoreceptors, it is the expansion you may be feeling—which, in some cases, can cause some initial discomfort in the form of an aching sensation." If you don't orgasm, the pain will linger longer.
So, yup, you guessed it: This is essentially the same situation as getting "blue balls," an experience talked about way more often. (Side note: Someone having blue balls, or a blue vulva, doesn't mean you owe them sex or vice versa. Ever.)
'According to a 2021 study [...] dyspareunia, or pain with sexual intercourse, affects 10 percent to 20 percent of people with vaginas. This uncomfortable interruption can feel annoying, even upsetting.'
While "blue vulva" isn't an actual condition, let alone a damaging one, you may feel discomfort or aches post-sex. Cold showers, exercise, lying down and doing something unsexy (such as math problems—unless you're into that) can help.
...and vulvar vestibulitis
Another potential cause is vulvar vestibulitis, also called vulvodynia. This is a type of chronic pain or discomfort that someone feels at the opening of the vagina. "This condition is often difficult to diagnose, but it can be debilitating for patients experiencing it," Nalewczyńska said. "[It can cause] a number of physical disabilities, including limitation of daily activities, sexual dysfunction and psychological distress."
Other symptoms include feeling sore, stinging, rawness and itching. If you experience these, seeing a gynecologist is your best option.
Your muscles might be spasming
Muscle spasms can cause you to feel genital pain, too. "Muscle spasms occur when the pelvic floor muscles are trying to splint against an irritant in a way to protect the body," said Betsy Greenleaf, D.O. Greenleaf is a distinguished fellow with the American College of Osteopathic Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the first board-certified female urogynecologist. "However, the muscle spasms, in turn, compress blood vessels. [They] additionally decrease blood flow and now trigger more spasms....Muscle spasms can feel like a leg cramp or can make penetrative sexual activity difficult."
She added a few causes of genital muscle spasms are infection, emotional trauma, hip disorders and back disorders.
If you think this may be the cause for you, Greenleaf recommends applying heat, massaging the area and seeing a pelvic physical therapist.
Other ways to relieve that pesky pain
Those aren't the only remedies at your disposal. Nalewczyńska also noted that tricyclic antidepressants and laser therapy may help. She encourages people to get a physical examination from a doctor, who could then share other treatment options, too.
As far as at-home remedies, Nalewczyńska suggests cold compresses, avoiding tight clothes and underwear, and avoiding physical activity that places pressure on your vagina, such as horseback riding and biking. Additionally, during sex, apply high-quality lube that isn't scented or alcoholic or doesn't contain warming or cooling agents.
While vaginal discomfort can dampen the sexiness of being turned on, it's not something you have to deal with forever. By seeing a gynecologist and taking good care down there, you can have a more enjoyable and stress-free sex life.