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Burning Vagina After Sex: Is This Normal?

Reviewed by
Date published
02/04/2022
Date last updated
01/04/2022
Length of read
6 Minutes

Dyspareunia is the term used to describe painful sex – which includes the burning feeling that can be felt in the vagina after sexual intercourse. There are multiple different causes of this burning sensation, from a lack of lubrication to wearing the wrong type of underwear.

Whatever the cause may be, sex should never be painful, so it’s important to understand these triggers as well as ways they can be prevented. Here are some of the reasons why your vagina might be burning after sex.

An Allergy to Lubricants, Condoms or Toys

Certain types of material can, when inserted in or around the vagina, cause irritation to the vulva – this can result in a stinging or burning sensation. Certain types of lubricants or latex condoms, for example, can trigger allergic reactions and in turn cause burning.

You may require an antihistamine tablet to treat allergy symptoms if they persist, or you might want to book an appointment with your GP to discuss your allergy further – severe allergies may require urgent medical attention. Non-latex condoms may also be an option to try out, though be aware that they don’t perform as well as latex condoms do.

Cystitis

Cystitis, an infection of the bladder, can cause a burning sensation in the vagina after sex. The infection can be instigated by the friction caused during sexual intercourse, though can also be brought on by strongly perfumed soaps and body washes.

For women experiencing menopause or those who suffer from diabetes, the chances of contracting cystitis will be higher, with both oestrogen levels and blood sugar levels affecting the condition. Cystitis treatment is available to treat the infection, while staying hydrated with plenty of water can also help flush the bacteria out.

Sexually Transmitted Infections

Sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) can also cause both pain and a burning feeling after sex. Infections such as Chlamydia can cause:

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Abnormal discharge
  • Pelvis and stomach pains
  • Pain when urinating.

If you experience a burning vagina after sex (or any other of the mentioned symptoms) and you have recently engaged in unprotected intercourse, you should visit a sexual health clinic or your GP to be tested for STI’s. It’s important to be aware that sexually transmitted infections don’t always display symptoms, and you should test regularly if you engage in unprotected sex with different partners.

Lack of Lubrication

When sexually stimulated, our bodies naturally produce lubrication. However, without enough lubrication, we can experience vaginal dryness which, in turn, can lead to a burning feeling as a result of too much friction.

Low levels of lubrication can be caused by a host of different reasons, including:

  • Feeling anxious and not relaxing during sex
  • Rushing into sex without foreplay
  • Not being sexually stimulated enough.

This can be avoided by using lubricants to reduce the levels of friction, and by engaging in more foreplay – massaging the clitoris can help.

Vaginal Yeast Infections

Yeast infections are fungal infections that can lead to irritation in and around the vagina. As well as symptoms such as vaginal discharge (often cottage cheese-like in appearance) and itching, yeast infections can also cause the vagina to burn after sex, as well as pain felt during sex for some people. Yeast infections can be transmitted to sexual partners, so it’s important to wait until the infection has fully cleared before engaging in sexual intercourse again.

Menopause

The body undergoes a lot of hormonal changes during the time of menopause (and after this period of time too, for many women). The drop in oestrogen (the hormone that helps to keep the vagina moist during sexual stimulation) during menopause can lead to pain when having sex, as well as vaginal burning after sex – the change in hormone can also lead to the lining of the vagina thinning, too.

Lubricants can help to alleviate some of the discomforts this causes, with doses of vaginal oestrogen also being available from your GP if required.

Douching

Douching refers to a specific way of cleaning out the vagina, but can often cause infections to develop. Douching not only unsettles the natural balance of bacteria within the vagina that protects it against harmful bacteria, but it can also cause conditions to occur such as pelvic inflammatory disease and bacterial vaginosis – causing vaginal burning. The vagina is self-cleaning, and it’s therefore best to leave it be and let it clean itself naturally.

Wearing Restrictive Underwear

It may be surprising, but wearing the wrong type of underwear can cause irritation and burning to the vagina, as well as infections in some cases. Tight and restrictive underwear, such as thongs, can increase friction and restrict airflow – resulting in irritation. The way in which you wash your underwear is also something to consider, as certain types of fabric detergents or softeners can also cause reactions. Aim for loose-fitting cotton underwear so that the vagina can breathe, to avoid burning sensations.

If you’re concerned about your symptoms, it’s always worth checking with your GP to ensure your symptoms aren’t a sign of a more serious underlying condition.