8 possible reasons why your vagina burns after sex

If you’re experiencing a burning feeling or pelvic pain after sex, you’re not alone.
Written by
Sophie Overett
Reviewed by
Last updated on
June 3, 2024
min read
8 Possible Reasons Why Your Vagina Burns After Sex | Kin
Jump to:
Arrow Down

When it comes to sex, understanding the sensations — both the good and the bad — that your body experiences can feel like trying to make sense of a map without a compass. From the touches that make you shiver in anticipation, to the pace that gets you fast tracking to a climax, the vagina is a complex part of the human body that can leave you with a mix of complex feelings.

One of those feelings can unfortunately be a painful, burning sensation. Dyspareunia is defined as genital pain before, during or after sex, and has many causes ranging from the circumstantial such as vaginal dryness (a.k.a not enough lubrication) to temporary conditions such as an infection or skin condition, to an indication of a chronic illness.

As a result, understanding what might be causing the burning sensation in your vagina after sex is crucial to both your physical health and mental well-being. Let's dive into why your vagina might burn after sex and what you can do about it.

Is it normal to burn after sex?

In short, yes, experiencing a burning or stinging sensation after sex is quite normal, although exactly how normal can be hard to pin down.

Like with many areas of women’s health, vaginal pain after sex is an under-researched topic; however, one study has found that up to 28% of women experience dyspareunia in their lifetimes [1], while another reports in a separate study that up to 3 in 4 are likely to experience painful sex at least once [2].

While there are disparities between those 2 studies, the implication is clear: if you’re experiencing a burning feeling or pelvic pain after sex, you’re not alone.

What causes vaginal burning after sex?

Unfortunately, there’s no one cause for vaginal burning after sex. After all, dyspareunia is understood to be caused by infections, and inflammatory, neoplastic, traumatic, hormonal and psychosocial conditions, which means it more or less runs the gamut when it comes to identifying your specific underlying cause.

That said, not all conditions are created equal, and some conditions (or situations) are more common than others.

1. Not enough natural lubrication

Often understood to be the most common cause of a burning sensation after sex in both reproductive-aged and post-menopausal women, not enough natural lubrication can result in vaginal dryness which causes too much painful friction during sex [1]. It can be caused by a whole host of things — from hormonal changes (more on that shortly) to certain types of contraception such as the contraceptive pill drying you out, to simply not being aroused enough at the point of penetration.

2. Allergic reaction

From latex condoms to lubricants and spermicides, there are a number of things that present the risk for an allergic reaction during sex, which can manifest in a burning sensation in the vagina, or worse. In particular, you should always check lubricants for nut, flower or seed-based oils, especially if you know that you have allergies or sensitivities already and especially if you know these ingredients can cause anaphylaxis.

3. Hormonal changes

Hormonal changes might be another reason why you've started finding sex painful or have started experiencing vaginal irritation.

In particular, dipping oestrogen levels can cause vaginal atrophy by thinning, which makes your vaginal lining less able to stretch and your vaginal canal to produce the appropriate amount of mucous. In other words, lower oestrogen levels make it harder for you to get wet, leading to vaginal dryness and burning after sex [3].

4. Infections

One of the major causes of burning after sex is infection. This ranges from sexually transmitted infections such as genital herpes or chlamydia to urinary tract infections, bacterial vaginosis or other bacterial infections, and yeast infections such as vaginal thrush.

All of these vaginal infections can cause inflammation, vaginal discharge, tenderness and itching, which can become a point of strife for many women. If you suspect you might have any of these infections, you should seek medical attention immediately.

5. Pelvic floor issues

If you're keen on pilates, odds are you know your pelvic floor pretty well, but for those who might not, your pelvic floor muscles are the ones between your tailbone and pubic bone. They support your bowel, bladder, uterus, and vagina [4].

Pelvic pain can often be the result of either an injury to your pelvic floor, perhaps through vaginal childbirth or a bike ride, or pelvic floor dysfunction, which can be caused by anything from pelvic congestion or pelvic inflammatory disease to a chronic illness such as endometriosis.

Problems with your pelvic floor can often manifest with other symptoms too such as painful urination, leaking urine when coughing, sneezing, laughing or running, a heaviness or dragging in the vagina, pelvis or back, or tampons that dislodge or fall out [4]. If you have any of these symptoms, you should seek medical attention.

6. Skin conditions

Skin conditions such as lichen planus, lichen sclerosus, and psoriasis have also been found to cause significant inflammation in the vagina which can result in a burning sensation during and after sexual intercourse. Sometimes mistaken for a urinary tract infection, vaginal yeast infection or sexually transmitted infection, the type of skin irritation caused by these conditions can not only make sex painful but cause stress and anxiety if not treated.

7. Vaginismus

An involuntary contraction of the pelvic floor muscles on attempted vaginal penetration, vaginismus is most common in younger women and can be the result of pelvic floor dysfunction or psychosocial issues such as a history of sexual abuse [1]. In cases of vaginismus, it can be best to speak to a mental health professional who can speak to you about the underlying cause.

8. Vigorous sex and new parenthood

Vaginal burning and pelvic pain aren't always a sign that something's wrong. Sometimes healthy sexual activity can cause a bit of strain the morning after, particularly if you've engaged in rough sex or had multiple sexual partners.

Sometimes too that burning sensation is just a common side effect of recently giving birth. In these cases, pull out the ice pack (Kin's Soothing Padsicles are a great option) and maybe try and go at a slower pace next time you have sex to give your vagina and perineum a little extra time to heal.

How to prevent a burning sensation after sex

Keeping your vagina healthy is a crucial step in maintaining your body's balance, sexual health, and your own sense of well-being. Any burning sensations or vaginal soreness can not only impact what would otherwise have been a fun night with a sexual partner but also be an indication that your vagina needs a little support (or some changed habits) to get back on track.

To do this, The Royal Women's Hospital suggests thinking about the following [5]:

  • How do you clean your vagina? Use your hands, not a cloth or sponge, use mild soaps or soap substitutes, and avoid using anything with a fragrance.
  • What do you put on your vagina? Wear cotton underwear and avoid synthetic fabrics. Wash and change out of sweaty clothing as soon as possible after sport, and avoid strong detergents when washing your underwear.
  • How do you remove hair or look after any genital piercings? Use a fresh razor or razor head each time you shave around your vagina, wash with mild soap and water before and after shaving, and ensure you don't get any piercings from an unqualified practitioner.
  • What toilet habits do you have? When wiping, always wipe from front to back. Only use sanitary products when menstruating, and while menstruating, change your pad, tampon or cup as directed.

Additionally, they suggest using water-based lubricants (like Kin's Fertility Lube), not using latex condoms, getting checked for STIs before changing partners, and getting vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV). If you're experiencing burning or vaginal irritation, try and avoid sex until you've figured out the cause [6].

Other sources also recommend talking to your sexual partner about painful sex and ramping up sensual foreplay or trying forms of sex that aren't penetrative, such as mutual masturbation or oral sex [2].

Feel like this isn't quite enough? Or perhaps you've found you're particularly susceptible to urinary tract infections or vaginal thrush? A probiotic such as Kin's Vaginal Probiotic might be just what you need. Packed full of healthy probiotic bacterial strains, this 1-a-day tablet supports your vaginal flora to keep your natural balance where it's supposed to be.

If the burning you are experiencing develops into intense or severe pain, you should seek medical attention immediately.

Soothing Padsicles

Simple snap, shake and stick – no freezer needed
Learn more

The Fertility Lube (1 pack)

Sperm-friendly, free of spermicide and parabens
Learn more

Vaginal Probiotic - 1 Month Supply

Balanced care for down there
Learn more
No items found.
No items found.
Articles you might like:
No items found.

All of the tools you need to take your reproductive health into your own hands.