Is your vagina hurting?…this is why…
It’s time to end the mystery and confusion surrounding vagina pain and decode why your private parts are hurting. Women don’t necessarily know what to do about it or they feel ashamed, like “oh I should just live with it”, But you shouldn’t! We can find out what the cause is and treat it, just like any other medical condition.”
No more brushing aside symptoms like a sharp pain during sex, burning on your vulva, and other clues that something’s not right with this super sensitive body part. These are the most common causes of vaginal discomfort and the conditions are explained so you can get yourself treated, as well as which ones are more serious and require a doctor’s care.
- Vaginal Dryness
Without enough vaginal lubrication, having sex can be uncomfortable, if not downright painful. Vaginal dryness during sex can also leave you with tiny tears or minor abrasions inside your vagina or at your vaginal opening, which in turn can cause lingering pain until they heal.
What’s the reason you might not be producing adequate levels of lubrication? It’s usually caused by low estrogen levels. If you’re on the Pill or another hormonal birth control method, this could be to blame; in some women, they reduce the amount of estrogen circulating in the body—and that leaves you high and dry down below.
- Your Period
Cramps you know. But your period can set you up for a different kind of pain as well—vaginal pain and discomfort before, during, and after menstruation. As women approach their period, they retain a little bit more fluid in their muscles and really all over their bodies—that’s why women get more headaches around their period—and certainly some vaginal pain can happen then too.
This kind of pain should be relatively minor and nothing that would keep you from pursuing your usual activities. If it’s severe, however, let your doctor know.
A fibroid is a noncancerous growth in the uterus. A woman could have one or several, and depending on its size and placement, the growth may cause chronic pelvic pain that some describe as a constant feeling of pressure rather than stubby kind of pain.
Fibroids can also can trigger dull or sharp pain during sex, particularly if the fibroid is growing near the cervix or upper end of the vagina. During your period, the pain can be more pronounced as well, especially if the fibroid is growing in such a way that it puts pressure on the uterine lining.
Endometriosis is a condition in which endometrial tissue—the uterine lining—makes its way out of the uterus and adheres to other parts of the pelvic cavity, such as the fallopian tubes, bladder, and ovaries. The adhesions that form are hormonally sensitive. As your hormones rise and fall with your monthly cycle, they swell and bring on pelvic pain. The adhesions actually bleed when you have your period.
Sometimes the pain from endometriosis is minimal and only happens as menstruation hits, causing super bad cramps that may not ease with over-the-counter pain pills. For some women, however, it’s a chronic pain that limits their day-to-day activities.
Andenomyosis is similar to endometriosis, but the endometrial tissue grows in the muscular wall of the uterus, instead of outside the uterus. The result: pelvic pressure, heavy, crampy periods, and sometimes painful sex, she adds. The cause of andenomyosis isn’t known, but experts say that it tends to strike women toward the end of their childbearing years and goes away after menopause.
Your doctor can diagnose the condition and help you take steps to manage it. That may include recommending anti-inflammatory pain medicine or hormonal meds such as birth control pills. A hysterectomy may also be an option if the pain is severe and can’t be eased with medication.
- Sexually transmitted diseases
The scary thing about STDs (and the reason you should get checked if you have unprotected sex with someone you aren’t totally sure is STD-free) is that they often don’t have noticeable symptoms, but one sign of many STDs is pain. That can be more of a burning, inflamed kind of pain if you have genital herpes, a sexually transmitted virus that causes breakouts of lesions on or around your vagina. Trichomoniasis, an STD caused by a parasite, may lead to redness and soreness of the genitals.
Chlamydia and gonorrhea, two bacterial STDs, can both trigger pelvic or lower abdominal pain as well as a burning sensation during urination. If left untreated, either could lead to a much more serious infection called Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), which happens when the bacteria make their way to the uterus and other parts of the upper reproductive tract. Signs include pelvic pain and pain during sex. PID is major; it can lead to infertility if not caught in time.
If your down-below pain sounds similar to the kind of pain these STDs can cause, let your ob-gyn know and tell her you want to get tested. Chlamydia and gonorrhea can be cured with antibiotics, trichomoniasis is treated with meds as well, and herpes breakouts can be minimized and managed with antiviral medication.
If your vulva feels chronically sore or swollen—so much so that it hurts to be touched and even sitting down for long periods makes the pain worse—a condition called vulvodynia may be to blame. It’s when pain fibers have been activated in the vulva, and just touching the outside of the vulva can cause a lot of pain.
Experts don’t know the exact cause of vulvodynia, but it may be brought on by nerve injury, allergies to chemicals, hormonal changes, medication, or an abnormal response to an infection or trauma. Inserting a tampon can be crazy painful, and sex almost impossible because of the severity of the pain, which is often described as a burning sensation. It’s not something many people are familiar with, but it is more common than you’d think.
Many women who experience symptoms don’t talk to their doctors about it, often because they’re embarrassed or they fear the pain will be dismissed as psychological. But it is a real physical condition, and getting a diagnosis is the first step toward managing the pain.