Menopause Sexual Health / STDs Urinary Tract Infection Women's Health / Gynecology

What to know about vaginal burning after sex

Vaginal burning is a typical symptom that can arise after sexual intercourse. Along with other unpleasant signs that often occurs.

Most sources of post-sex vaginal burning are easy to treat.

This article will examine the potential causes of vaginal burning and some ways to avoid this unpleasant sensation.

Possible causes

Couples sleeping together
Although some cases of vaginal burning will resolve by themselves, many cases require medical treatment.
Image credit: Lena Mirisola/Getty Images

There are a few potential causes of post sex vaginal burning. This will be explored in more detail in the Sections below.

Friction

Excess tension can occur during raw sex or when people have sex for lengthy periods.

Usually the vagina lubricates itself after a sexual arousal. This would improve relaxation during sex and could reduce the possibility of any discomfort that might lead to a feeling of burning.

Vaginal dryness, however, is an incredibly common sexual problem.

Allergies

Any individuals could have condom allergies. The allergy may be due to condom or latex spermicidal lube.

People can also have allergies to a wide range of personal care items, including feminine hygiene.

Another allergen that may induce vaginal irritation is an allergy to the sperm.

Yeast infection

Vaginal candidiasis is also known as yeast infections. People may experience any of the following symptoms when there is an overgrowth of yeast in the vagina:

  • vaginal soreness and itching
  • painful sex
  • painful urinating
  • vaginal discharge

Those who are more likely to develop a yeast infection include people who:

Urinary tract infections

There are common urinary tract infections (UTIs). UTIs develop in the urinary tract while bacteria are present. It can happen for a variety of reasons.

In females UTIs are more widespread than in males. Some contributing factors to the development of UTIs include:

  • sexual activity
  • age
  • pregnancy
  • previous UTIs
  • irregular urinary tract anatomy
  • poor hygiene
  • menopause

Symptoms of a UTI may include:

  • burning or pain when urinating
  • a strong urge to urinate but producing little or no urine
  • frequent urination
  • blood in the urine

Bacterial vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis ( BV) occurs when vaginal surroundings change. It occurs commonly in females aged 15–44.

There is no known cause of BV, but there are some known risk factors, among them:

  • having a new sexual partner
  • having multiple sexual partners
  • douching

Symptoms of BV include:

  • vaginal discharge that is white or gray
  • vaginal itching, pain, or burning
  • a strong odor that may smell fishy, especially after sex
  • burning while urinating

Sexually transmitted infections

There are several sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that may cause vaginal burning after sex.

Some of these include:

  • trichomoniasis
  • herpes
  • chlamydia
  • gonorrhea

STIs spread when someone is having condomless sex with someone who has an infection already.

Menopause

Changes in hormones can affect the vagina when females reach menopause. This change can result in the vagina becoming drier and thinner, and losing elasticity.

This is known as vulvovaginal atrophy. As less lubrication is present and the vaginal tissues are more delicate, tearing can occur. This tearing will theoretically cause a burning after-sex sensation.

Vulvodynia

Vulvodynia is a painful condition that affects the vulva. Symptoms include:

  • burning
  • stinging
  • irritation
  • throbbing
  • swelling

It can occur for a few reasons, including:

  • damage or irritation of the nerves of the vulva
  • infection
  • genetic conditions
  • inflammation of the vulva
  • food sensitivities
  • weak pelvic floor muscles

Skin conditions

Any skin disorders can affect the skin outside the vagina, such as lichen sclerosus and lichen planus. This can cause a painful burning sensation if the skin becomes raw.

Vulvar cancer

Vaginal burning is most certainly not a source of concern. Many of the alternative triggers are easy to treat and are unlikely to lead to complications.

However, in extremely rare cases the sensation of burning may be attributed to vulvar cancer.

Vulvar cancers account for around 0.7 percent of all cancers of women in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society.

Symptoms of this cancer include:

  • itching
  • pain or burning
  • bleeding or discharge that is not due to menstruation
  • skin changes around the vulva, including discoloration or thickening
  • sores that do not heal

Treatments

The vaginal burning treatments can differ according to the underlying cause.

Infections such as infections with STIs, UTIs, BV, and yeast may typically require a course of antibiotics, antiprotozoa, antifungal, or other medicine.

It is important that people take the whole dose of a drug, even if they start feeling better.

Also, taking antibiotics unnecessarily can in fact lead to a yeast infection, so it is important to get a proper diagnosis and just take the drug recommended by a doctor.

Since the exact cause of vulvodynia is unclear, medication is intended to relieve the symptoms. Treatment can include antidepressants and anticonvulsants, such as serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors. Other remedies include creams , lotions and anesthetic gel which can be applied to the vulval region.

Treatments for vulvar cancer may include surgery, chemotherapy , radiation therapy and biological therapy.

If symptoms of lichen sclerosus or lichen planus are to be alleviated, people will need to apply a steroid cream or ointment directly to the infected region. This may help to alleviate scratching, soreness, and scarring, and may also avoid a worsening condition.

If anyone feels vaginal burning that doesn’t go away, they should see a doctor. Any conditions causing this symptom may need medical attention.

Prevention

Preventing strategies for post-sex vaginal burning may also rely upon the underlying cause.

In general, people can try: to prevent or provide immediate relief from sex-associated vaginal burning

  • using a lubricant before sex
  • participating in non-penetrative sex
  • taking over-the-counter pain relievers
  • applying ice packs to the genital area

People can lower their risk of getting infections that may result in vaginal burning by:

  • not douching
  • using barrier methods of contraception
  • talking openly with partners about any infections they have
  • wearing breathable, cotton underwear
  • not using scented feminine hygiene and bath products
  • wiping the genitals and anus from front to back

Although vulvovaginal atrophy that occurs with menopause can not be prevented, having regular vaginal sex can help to reduce discomfort.

People with allergies to certain substances, like latex condoms, may switch to other brands or condom types to avoid burning and irritation.

If someone is allergic to sperm, they may use a condom to avoid touching the substance.

When to see a doctor

Vaginal burning occasionally goes away on its own. Most vaginal burning causes however require some form of medical treatment.

A person should see a doctor if he or she experiences a symptom like vaginal burning that doesn’t go away, gets worse or starts causing concern.

A doctor can provide a diagnosis for the symptom and choose the correct course of treatment. Treatment in many cases soothes painful burning within a few days.

People should make sure they test for STIs before committing to any form of sexual activity.

Summary

After sex vaginal burning can have many causes.

This symptom is often the result of something benign, like vigorous sex or lack of lubrication. There are many causes of vaginal burning which are highly treatable.

But getting a correct diagnosis is important for a person experiencing painful burning in the vagina. Sometimes burning can be a symptom of a more serious condition.