Although sex leads to many positives, including intimacy, improved mood and better overall health, it can have some negatives side effects. One such side effect is burning after sex.
A burning sensation is actually quite common, and it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve done nothing wrong. Recognizing this symptom can help you narrow down whether the problem is a urinary tract or bacterial infection, STI or something else entirely, so you can treat it, either at home or with assistance from you doctor.
Below, you’ll find some of the most common reasons that women – and men – experience burning before and after sex. We’ve also got advice from trusted sources, including the Centers for Disease Control and Mayo Clinic, about treatment and prevention of these infections and situations that you may have if it burns after sex, and which may prevent you from enjoying a happy and healthy sex life!
1. Condom Allergy
A condom allergy occurs when you’re allergic to condoms, the main material that most condoms are made from. When experienced in your intimate areas, and especially after repeated thrusting, you can have pain and burning after sex. Swelling and redness are also common indicators of condom allergies. The good news is that you can get condoms made from non-allergenic materials, so you can keep having safer sex without the negative side effects.
2. Lube Allergy
Although lube was created to make you sex life more slippery and fun, it can do quite the opposite if you’re allergic to any of the ingredients. It can be more difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of allergy in personal lubricants, and it may be due to osmolality and not an ingredient at all!. In fact, the FDA doesn’t even require testing for lubes.
We do recommend the following steps to cut down on possibly reaction or irritation:
- Use non-lubricated condoms and choose personal lube separately.
- If experiencing reactions to water-based lube, look for one without parabens or glycerin.
- Switch to a silicone-based lube to reduce possibility of reaction; remember that you shouldn’t mix silicone lube with silicone sex toys, however!
- Invest in a hypoallergenic lube such as Sliquid Naturals or ID Moments.
If you believe you’re experiencing an allergic reaction, wash the area free of any lube. Once you remove the allergen, symptoms should subside. Alternatively, take an over-the-counter antihistamine, such as Benadryl, to relieve allergy symptoms. This medication may have a sedative effect, to be warned when taking it.
You also may feel burning after sex in water as water alone does not act as a lubricant and can actually increase the friction you feel.
3. Urinary Tract Infection
A UTI isn’t pleasant, and it’s one of the most common causes of burning after sex. Sexual activity can irritate the urinary tract and urethra, leading to inflammation and uncomfortable burning sensations. According to the Mayo Clinic, most UTIs affect the bladder and urethra, but they can also infect the kidneys, too, leading to internal pain rather than just pain around the vulva and urethra.
Other symptoms include the persistent urge to pee, urinating frequently, cloudy urine, blood in urine or pinkish pee, pain in your pelvic and anal areas and strong-smelling urine. When the infection targets your kidney, you may also experience nausea, vomiting and fever – symptoms similar to the flu. Some of these UTI symptoms are similar to yeast infections, but UTIs do not have the typical discharge of a yeast infection. Yeast infections can be passed back and forth between partners, so treatment is important.
If you’re susceptible to urinary tract infections, you might get several over your lifetime, especially when you’re sexually active. Women are at greater risk of developing this type of infection according to the Mayo Clinic, possibly due to menopause and using birh control. However, you can take a few steps to reduce the likelihood of UTI. This includes washing before and after sex and urinating after sex, which helps to remove bacteria from the vulva and urethra.
When you find yourself with a UTI, you can go to your doctor, who will prescribe antibiotics. The Mayo Clinic recommends contacting your doctor whenever you suspect you have a UTI. You will find over-the-counter cranberry supplements and juices that many swear by for treatment of UTIs. This may stop burns after sex, but a doctor if your best choice for recurring and extreme cases.
4. Sexually Transmitted Infections
A number of sexually transmitted infections, or STIs, creating a burning sensation after you contract them, after sex and during breakouts. If your pain persists well after sex or after you’ve removed possibly problematic materials from the area, it may be an STI. According to the CDC, a number of infections can cause this burning sensation:
The CDC recommends following basic STI prevention protocol to ensure your sexual health. If you do, schedule an appointment with your doctor right away. Some STIs can even impact your ability to have children in the future or lead to cervical cancer, so there’s far more at risk than an uncomfortable sensation after sex.
5. Bacterial Vaginosis
A bacterial infection of the vagina and cervix is known as bacterial vaginosis. Bacteria always exists within your vagina, but BV introduces more bacteria or harmful bacteria to the area. Sex, including oral and manual, masturbation and even the wrong clothing or laundry detergent can contribute to BV. Studies suggest that having sex with an uncut man increases this risk.
Cleaning your hands and toys well before insertion can reduce the risk of BV and its symptoms, which include vaginal itching, pelvic pain and discharge. You should seek an appointment with your medical provider if you suspect BV. He or she will prescribe antibiotics. Note that this is an infection that commonly recurs in women, so if you’ve had one in the past 12 months, it’s likely you’ll have one again. You can also pass it to your partner and back to yourself, so treat it as soon as possible.
General inflammation of the vagina and vulva is known as vaginitis, and this inflammation can certainly lead to painful intercourse and burning after sex. Itching and discharge are common side effects of this inflammation as well. Vaginitis can result as as upset in the pH balance or bacteria levels in the vagina; although, a doctor may not be able to pinpoint a specific cause.
Technically, bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, trichomoniasis and vaginal atrophy are all types of vaginosis. However,treatment for each of these infections can vary even if they share some of the same symptoms.
General hygiene and using condoms can help to prevent some of the most common infections that cause burning after sex as well as the transmission of preventable STIs. Not only is burning after sex painful, but it could be a sign of an infection that has far more serious complications down the road, so prevention is definitely worth a pound of the cure when it comes to this uncomfortable sensation.
If you’re at all in doubt, we recommend discussing this symptom with your doctor, who can recommend medication or other treatments and help prevent this from happening to you again.