Painful sex during pregnancy is not uncommon. Here are 6 reasons why pregnancy sex can be painful, and how it can be fixed.
Ever thought, "Why does my vagina hurt after sex while pregnant?"
Some people claim pregnancy sex is better. With heightened hormone levels and more blood flow, that can be true for some.
Unfortunately, pregnancy sex can be completely the opposite for others. In fact, one study found that over 20 percent of pregnant women experienced significantly painful sex during pregnancy.
Pregnancy sex can be painful for different reasons such as vaginal dryness, body changes, and anxiety.
Things that can help with painful pregnancy sex include changing positions and managing anxiety.
Doctors may advise avoiding sex in the final weeks of pregnancy. Follow your physicians advice on when you should stop having sex.
Therefore, vaginal pain after sex during pregnancy is a common problem. So, why is it painful? Take a closer look at the potential reasons.
Without question, pregnancy can come along with some physical discomfort. Something that should be enjoyable—sex—can also be uncomfortable while pregnant.
Thankfully, painful pregnancy sex is relatively common. It of course can be a worrying experience if you've rarely dealt with painful sex before.
While it is always worth mentioning issues to the OB/GYN, usually, a bit of discomfort during or after intercourse is not something that should cause any major concern.
Women may experience vaginal pain either during sex or vaginal pain after sex during pregnancy. The discomfort may range from dull aching to more sharp and disturbing pains.
Further, painful sex may only be an issue at certain points during the pregnancy. A number of factors can lead to discomfort during or after sex when you are expecting.
Outwardly, it may only look like the breasts and belly are growing.
However, pregnancy comes along with other changes to the body that are not so easy to point out. A few changes that may be taking place inside the body include:
Despite these changes causing painful sex, there may be some adjustments that can help. Trying a new sexual position beyond missionary may prevent extra pressure on the stomach.
Likewise, if uterine enlargement makes sex uncomfortable, it can be helpful for the female to have more control over the depth of penetration.
Other factors that might be causing the issue include:
In these cases, using a pregnancy-safe lubricant can be a good option to make sex more enjoyable.
Fear and anxiety during pregnancy are natural reactions. In a study of pregnant women, over half reported they did not engage in sexual activities during pregnancy due to some level of fear.
Fear and anxiety associated with sex during pregnancy are more common during the last four weeks of gestation. The most common fears include worry about:
As a result of the anxiety, it might cause dryness in the vaginal, which makes intercourse more painful.
One study also found a correlation between body image and sexual function. Women with a poor body image during pregnancy were more likely to have poor sexual function.
Overall, anxiety can lead to issues with low arousal and lack of lubrication, which can result in pain during sex.
In some cases, heightened sensitivity during pregnancy can cause sex to be painful.
Due to heightened hormone levels and increased blood flow, this could mean the vagina is far more sensitive to touch than usual.
Even the nipples and other erogenous zones can be more sensitive during sex. While some individuals can find this heightened sensitivity to make sex and touch more enjoyable, for others, the heightened sensations can be uncomfortable.
If vaginal pain is experienced during or after sex during pregnancy, and it's related to higher sensitivity, it may be a good idea to avoid or reduce direct stimulation to these areas.
Red blood count (RBC) volume goes up as much as 30 percent and plasma volume goes up by around half during pregnancy.
This means the vagina, clitoris, labia, and other areas can be more engorged with blood, appear swollen, and even take on a different hue. This enhanced blood flow can make arousal easier, but it can also change how sex feels for some women.
For example, vulvar varicosities (vaginal varicose veins) are possible during pregnancy. This occurs when the veins in the vagina are engorged with blood that does not circulate as quickly as normal.
Unfortunately, either of these can lead to feelings of fullness, pressure, and even pain during or after sex.
Infections are a bit more common during pregnancy, whether it is an infection of the genital or pelvic region.
Infections that can be more common during pregnancy include:
All of these infections can change how sex feels. For example, a yeast infection can make the vagina feel itchy and generate burning sensations in the genital area.
If there's any suspicion that an infection might be causing painful sex, be sure to talk to a doctor. While most infections are easy to treat, a non-treated infection may put the pregnant woman and the pregnancy at risk.
Pregnant women can often wonder why their vagina hurts during sex. There can be many reasons behind the pain.
Most root causes are related to the normal changes in the body during pregnancy. However, a few issues should be discussed with the OB/GYN just to keep risks to the mother and the baby low.
In most cases, a few adjustments can make sex during pregnancy more enjoyable. New positions, using Promescent female arousal gel, and even trying to work through typical anxieties can all be helpful.
Our team has over a decade of experience in the sexual wellness field and are experts in sexual dysfunctions, like premature ejaculation. We help couples and individuals better understand treatment options available for different types of sexual needs and educate the public on all things related to intimacy. All of our authored content is medically reviewed for accuracy and reliability.
Absorption Pharmaceuticals LLC (Promescent) has strict informational citing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic or research institutions, medical associations, and medical experts. We attempt to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references and only citing trustworthy sources. Each article is reviewed, written, and updated by Medical Professionals or authoritative Experts in a specific, related field of practice. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.
Rossi MA, Mooney KM, Binik YM, Rosen NO. A Descriptive and Longitudinal Analysis of Pain During Intercourse in Pregnancy. J Sex Med. 2019 Dec;16(12):1966-1977. doi: 10.1016/j.jsxm.2019.09.011. Epub 2019 Oct 21. PMID: 31648950. Accessed on Jan, 9, 2023.
Pascual ZN, Langaker MD. Physiology, Pregnancy. [Updated 2022 May 19]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK559304/. Accessed on Jan, 9, 2023.
"Pregnancy: How Your Digestion Changes - University of Rochester Medical Center." Urmc.rochester.edu, 2023, www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=90&contentid=P09521. Accessed on Jan, 9, 2023.
"Changes During Pregnancy: What's Normal And What's Not? - Texas Children's Hospital." Women.texaschildrens.org, 2022, www.women.texaschildrens.org/blog/2019/05/changes-during-pregnancy-what’s-normal-and-what’s-not. Accessed on Jan, 9, 2023.
"Experiencing Vaginal Dryness? Here's What You Need to Know - ACOG." Acog.org, 2022, www.acog.org/womens-health/experts-and-stories/the-latest/experiencing-vaginal-dryness-heres-what-you-need-to-know. Accessed on Jan, 9, 2023.
"Here's What To Do About Vaginal Dryness In Pregnancy (& Why It Happens) - Romper." Romper.com, 2021, www.romper.com/life/how-to-cure-vaginal-dryness-during-pregnancy-according-to-experts-8064872. Accessed on Jan, 9, 2023.
"Hydration for Vaginal Health - Stony Brook Medicine." Stonebrookmedicine.edu, 2022, Stonybrookmedicine.edu/southbayobgyn/news/hydration. Accessed on Jan, 9, 2023.
"Vaginitis - MedlinePlus." Medlineplus.gov, 2016, https://medlineplus.gov/vaginitis.html. Accessed on Jan, 9, 2023.
Jaimie K. Beveridge, Sarah A. Vannier & Natalie O. Rosen (2018) Fear-based reasons for not engaging in sexual activity during pregnancy: associations with sexual and relationship well-being, Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology, 39:2, 138-145, DOI: 10.1080/0167482X.2017.1312334. Accessed on Jan, 9, 2023.
Phan TC, Hoang LB, Tran TK, Pham TTT, Bui AV, Dao HT, Ngo TV, Tran CD. Fear-Related Reasons for Avoiding Sexual Intercourse in Early Pregnancy: A Cross-Sectional Study. Sex Med. 2021 Dec;9(6):100430. doi: 10.1016/j.esxm.2021.100430. Epub 2021 Oct 7. PMID: 34628113; PMCID: PMC8766271. Accessed on Jan, 9, 2023.
"Vaginal Dryness Sucks—But It Doesn't Have to Ruin Your Sex Life - Vice." Vice.com, 2022, https://www.vice.com/en/article/88gj3k/what-is-vaginal-dryness-and-how-does-it-affect-your-sex-life. Accessed on Jan, 9, 2023.
Mehtap Gumusay, Nulufer Erbil & Birsel Canan Demirbag (2021) Investigation of sexual function and body image of pregnant women and sexual function of their partners, Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 36:2-3, 296-310, DOI: 10.1080/14681994.2021.1883580. Accessed on Jan, 9, 2023.
"I’m Back in the Mood for Sex, but I Feel Different Down There. Why? - The Bump." Thebump.com, 2017, https://www.thebump.com/a/sex-feels-different-while-pregnant. Accessed on Jan, 9, 2023.
"Breast Changes During Pregnancy - American Pregnancy." Americanpregnancy.org, 2023, www.americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/changes-in-your-body/breast-changes-during-pregnancy/. Accessed on Jan, 9, 2023.
Giannella L, Montanari M, Delli Carpini G, Di Giuseppe J, Ciavattini A. Huge vulvar varicosities in pregnancy: case report and systematic review. J Int Med Res. 2022 May;50(5):3000605221097764. doi: 10.1177/03000605221097764. PMID: 35635336; PMCID: PMC9158414. Accessed on Jan, 9, 2023.
"Infectious Diseases in Pregnancy - U.S. Pharmacist." Uspharmacist.com, 2020, www.uspharmacist.com/article/infectious-diseases-in-pregnancy. Accessed on Jan, 9, 2023.
Your Cart Is Empty