Itchy Vagina After Sex: Causes If Swollen, Irritated & After Unprotected Intercourse

For many women, it is normal to feel a little bit of discomfort after intercourse especially if things were intense. Pelvic pressure, minor bruising and even allergies can cause a sting or a burning sensation in the vagina after intercourse.

But the worst is severe itching on the vaginal lips (labia) or on the vulva. It will definitely be unbearable and cause you to feel miserable.

While it is expected that the irritation will go away on its own, itchiness can last long and recur after different episodes of intercourse, whether unprotected or protected.

So, what causes my vagina to itch after sex? Is it a sign of an infection?

Not only is it a turn off in the bedroom but also limits your daily activities and movements. While it’s obvious that vaginal itchiness can be as a result of an infection after inprotected intercourse, it is also worth noting that other factors like latex allergy and use of lubes are other main contributors of vaginal itchiness after sex.

What causes the vagina to itch after sex

Itchy vagina after sex
What causes an itchy vagina after sex?

Sexual intercourse should never be painful. There is something wrong when a woman experiences soreness and itchiness in her vagina after sex. An itchy vagina after intercourse not only disturbs a woman psychologically, but also her partner.

This could be a start of an end of something good between many couples. Here are some of the common causes of itching and burning in the vagina after sexual intercourse.

1. Menopause

Estrogen, which is a reproductive hormone, begins to decline in its levels during menopause. Estrogen is important because it keeps the vagina moist and lubricated. Low levels of estrogen cause thinning and dryness of the vaginal walls.

A dry vagina results into bruises due to friction generated during sex. Women engaging in sex after the age of 45 years are highly advised to use lubricants during sex.

2. Vaginal yeast infection

Yeast infections are caused by a fungus called candida albicans. Candidiasis is a common term used to refer to yeast infection in women. Yeast cells multiply when the bacteria balance changes in the female vagina. The result is intense irritation and inflammation.

Yeast infection is not considered an STI (Sexually transmitted infection) even though it can be sexually transmitted. The symptoms include:

  • Vaginal itching
  • Pain during sex
  • Soreness after sex
  • Redness in the vagina
  • Rash around the vulva

A whitish cloudy discharge with or without an odor is also another common symptom of vaginal candidiasis or yeast infection.

3. Chemicals

Certain products used by women are rich in harsh chemicals. These compounds irritate the delicate vaginal tissues. Lubes, oils, and creams can be causes of itchy vagina after sex.

An allergy to such chemicals is always accompanied by burning and severe irritation and in other cases inflammation. Perfumed soaps used in regular baths are also another cause of vaginal itchiness.

4. STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections)

Almost all STIs cause vaginal itching when not treated on time. Unprotected sex poses a greater risk for contacting a STI. It is always advisable to go for check up to rule out such infection. Here are common STI characterized by burning and itchiness in the vagina:

  • Chlamydia
  • Trichomoniasis
  • Genital warts

5. Bacterial vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis is often confused with yeast infections. A woman’s vagina is comprised of a healthy bacteria and harmful ones as well.

Once the health bacteria are overwhelmed by the harmful bacteria, an imbalance occurs leading to inflammation and burning sensations. Some women experience a milky white discharge that has a bad odor.

Irritated vagina after intercourse

There are several factors contributing to an irritated vagina after sexual intercourse, below are the most common causes:

1. Rough sex

Vaginal itching can occur when things go a little rough between the sheets with your partner. Your vagina is made of delicate soft tissue which tears easily with slightest of mishandling

Rough sex causes friction which in return causes irritation and minor tears around the vaginal area. In severe cases, inflammation occurs for about two days. It is advisable to visit the doctor when your symptoms persist.

2. Vaginal dryness

Vaginal abrasions are as a result of inadequate vaginal lubrication during sex. A dry vagina is likely to cause pain during penetration leaving you itchy afterwards.  Causes of a dry vagina are mostly hormonal, as seen in women who using the contraceptive pill.

  • In other instances, women who are not physiologically prepared for sex might fail to get lubricated. It is therefore advisable to use a lube which is not sugar- based because sugar can trigger yeast infections.
  • Also during sex, try to give your body time to get excited, while men treat sex as an emergency, well note that foreplay is very significant in preparing  a woman’s mind for sex.
  • Another better way to get lubricated during sex is to have communication with your partner. Sex should be fun and exciting; communication with your partner during sex simply makes you more related and improves the intimacy connection.

3. Vaginal pH imbalance

A vagina is simply a self-cleaning organ. The vagina has numerous microorganisms that work to ensure that it remains at a pH of 4-5. However, there are other factors that may result in an imbalanced pH in your vagina, such as:

  • Increased sugar intake (makes your vagina too acidic)
  • Prolonged use of antibiotics (depletes the good bacteria in your vagina)
  • Menstruation (causes rise in pH)
  • Douches and use of scented soaps( destroy good bacteria found in the vagina)

Semen which is alkaline may also alter the vagina condition causing itchiness right after sex. It is always advisable that you visit your doctor to determine your vaginal pH. Knowing your vagina pH helps you avoid certain foods, which might be causing bacteria imbalance in your vagina.

4. Allergic reactions

Some women are allergic to latex (a substance used to make condoms).The immediate sign of latex allergy after sex is vaginal itchiness. Try latex free condoms and note the difference.

  • If itchiness occurs in a heterosexual relationship where barrier method (for example condom or spermicides) of contraceptive is not used, then chances are you are allergic to your partner’s sperms.
  • An allergy to sperms can occur randomly even with a long term partner, causes behind such occurrence is still not known. A severe irritation, swelling, and itchiness need an immediate visit to the doctor for examinations and management.

Right after unprotected sex

Are you experiencing an itchy vagina after unprotected sex? There is some possibility that there is a burning sensation right after your partner ejaculates.

It is always advisable that you seek advice from a healthcare provider as soon as you note severity in your symptoms. Here are five the most common causes of an itchy vagina after unprotected sex:

1. Vaginitis

Vaginitis is a term used to refer to inflammation of the vagina; it is a possible cause of vaginal itchiness after sex.Normally the vagina has good and harmful bacteria that exist symbiotically to bring balance into the vagina.

  • In instances where an upset in those bacteria occurs, there is a change in PH which causes the burning sensation after right after unprotected sex.
  • Vaginitis may be accompanied by vaginal discharge, burning sensation of the vulva, and frequent urination.

2. Friction from sex

Rough sex, might be one cause of vagina itchiness immediately after sex. The soft tissues of the vagina, in this case, are bruised which may cause a burning sensation during urination. Vaginal friction during sex may put you at a risk of an infection.

To avoid friction during sex, you may want to use water-based lube. Additionally, try to urinate before and after sex to flush out harmful bacteria from your vagina which may cause you irritation after sex.

3. Semen allergy

Semen may trigger changes in your vagina. Being too alkaline, semen is taught to cause an imbalance in some cases leading to itchiness, during or after unprotected sex. In case you are confirmed to have a sperm allergy then it is advisable to talk to your partner to drink a lot of water which will reduce the semen acidity   before sex.

3. Possible STI

Birth control contraceptives do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.  An STI check -up is vital before engaging in unprotected sex with a new partner. Most of such infections are not severe at the start; the most notable symptom is itchy vagina after sex.

Testing is the only sure way to know whether your vaginal itchiness is caused by an STI or not. Your doctor will carry out tests and examinations to arrive at the correct diagnosis. If testing and treatment for an STI is not done, symptoms persist to a swollen irritated inside vagina after intercourse.

4. You are allergic to lubes

Lubes are heaven sent; they make sex enjoyable by continuously providing the desired lubrication.

However, some women may react to the substances contained in the lubes hence vaginal itchiness after sex. You should never be scared to use lube; it is only important for you to get to know the signs accompanied by lube allergy. Here are the most common:

  • A burning sensation in your vagina after use
  • An itchy vagina after sex
  • An irritation leading to a rash
  • Swollen irritated vagina inside vagina after intercourse
  • Vaginal redness after sex
  • Pain that persists for some time after unprotected sex.

Swollen vagina

Most women experience swelling after childbirth, sex or cycling. The swelling might occur with or without itchiness. Edema (swelling) might also occur in a small area around the vagina. Swollen skin is usually soft and warm on touch. Here are the four leading causes of a swollen vagina:

1. Cysts

Cysts are painless swellings on the vagina tissues. Such abscesses might be due to an infection or injury to the tissues. Vaginal tumors are also known to cause swellings on the vagina. It is recommendable to visit your doctor; immediately you notice a strange swelling on the vagina.

2. Infections

If your vagina has a pH that is easily changed, then that can lead to other infections that cause swollen irritated inside vagina after intercourse. A history of recurrent yeast infection after unprotected sex can also be the primary cause of swollen vagina.

3. Allergy to latex and lubes

An allergy to sex products is one of the causes of a swollen vagina after intercourse. A condom or spermicides might irritate leading to the swollen inside of vagina after intercourse .It is, therefore, important to keep track of products used to avoid such occurrences.

4. Friction during sex

Inflammation occurs when tissues are injured. The main cause of friction is rough sex and a dry vagina. Slight injury to the vagina tissues causes swollen irritated inside vagina after intercourse. The swelling might subside on its own within few days.

How to relieve itching

Many available treatments can help alleviate the symptoms. It is, however, advisable that you visit your doctor when you are not able to identify the cause of vaginal itchiness. The following are steps you can take to relieve vaginal itching after sex:

1. Cold shower

A cold bath help reduces the heat around the vagina. A cold compression also helps soothe the swollen tissues hence reduce inflammation around the vagina. Always shower the vagina area in a downward position, never directly to the vagina to avoid triggering pain.

2. Avoid wearing tight clothing

Allow your vagina area to get enough air, by simply getting rid of the lingerie and pants. If your vagina is not getting enough oxygen, it is likely that harmful bacteria will grow and increase itchiness.

3. Stop scratching

Scratching only makes matters worse. Your vagina is made of delicate tissues that can easily get bruised on continuous scratch. Also try to relax and divert your mind from the issue, you will feel better afterwards.

4. Use plain yogurt

Yogurt is a probiotic. This means that it contains good bacteria that help balance your vagina pH relieving itchiness after sex. Yogurt will give double benefits if refrigerated before use. Apply yogurt to the vagina area, using a clean cotton wool and leave it for half an hour before you can rinse with cold water.

5. Avoid sex

It is only fair that you let your vagina heal before you can finally get back to having sex.  Continued sex will only cause more pain.

6. Try apple cider vinegar

Vinegar inhibits the growth of yeast because of its acidic nature. It gives incredible results by killing and stopping the growth of infectious bacteria because of its acidic nature.

What you need:

  1. Apple cider vinegar
  2. Clean bathing water

Directions:

  1. Mix half a cup of vinegar with enough water
  2. Sit in the shallow water bath and keep your legs open so that water can flow freely around the vagina.
  3. Repeat this procedure after every eight hours to help alleviate swollen irritated inside vagina after intercourse.

7. Eliminate sugar from your diet

Avoiding sugar will reduce the presence of yeast in the vagina. An example of yeast is candida albicans which thrive on sugar, in extreme cases; it is highly advisable that you adhere to a non-sugary diet for some time until itching subsides.

8. Avoid use of scented soaps

Scented soaps, moisturizers, and pads can be one of the causes of further irritations. These products naturally contain chemicals that alter the normal conditions of your vagina eventually aggravating the skin. The other product to avoid is a scented toilet paper, try as much as possible to avoid using scented products.

9. Avoid douching or vaginal sprays

The vagina itself contains bacteria that make it infection -free. It is only recommended that you clean your vagina with clean water and nothing else. Douches and sprays deplete the good bacteria present in the vagina which help fight infections.

There is no significance in douches and sprays since the vagina itself has its natural secretions that flush out dirt. You are only to clean the outside of the vagina and the vulva on a daily basis on a regular bathing routine. Douches can worsen your vaginal itchiness and increase the risk for an infection.

10. Use honey

Honey contains antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. It is therefore useful for relieving vaginal itchiness after.

What you need

  1. Honey
  2. Cotton wool

Directions:

  1. Apply honey to the irritated area using a clean cotton wool
  2. Allow it to stay in place for half an hour and then take a bath using look warm water
  3. Repeat this procedure at least twice daily until symptoms go away
  4. Alternatively, you can mix two table spoons of honey in a glass of warm water and drink twice daily for better results.

Treatments

It is always advisable to visit your doctor, to rule out a possibility of an infection and also to give you proper medication that will alleviate your symptoms. Your doctor prescribes medications after determining the cause of the itchiness. Here are the common categories of treatments prescribed to calm symptoms related to vaginal itchiness after sex.

Local anesthetics

These products numb the skin, soothing the itching. Allergic reactions of these products are common, that is why is advisable to use sparingly during the first use. An example of such ointments is lonecane.

Anti-Pruritic (anti-itch)

These products help relieve itchiness by numbing the irritated area. Just like local anesthetics they too need to be used sparingly because of their potential to cause allergic reactions.

Moisturizers

Moisturizers contain pre-filled vaginal lubrications. They are mainly used to relieve vaginal dryness and itching. There are a variety of such products; you only need to choose one that is water based and less reactive.

Anti-histamines

Antihistamines are drugs that inhibit allergic reactions. Only use these drugs after confirming that your itchiness is caused by an allergy. Even though these drugs are found in the stores, it is advisable that you use them under a doctor’s prescription.

Anti-fungal and anti-bacterial drugs

These drugs are prescribed when your doctor makes a diagnosis of an infection. A fungal infection is treated with anti-fungal drugs. Anti-fungal drugs are available in oral and ointment form. An infection of a bacterial origin will have your doctor prescribe pessaries (tablet drug to be inserted into your vagina), orals or creams depending on the severity.

When to see a doctor

Vaginal itchiness is common, but when does it persists and you find a need to visit a doctor? Severe itchiness causes not only worry but also physical distress. When should you treat vaginal itchiness with over the counter drugs? The following symptoms should give you a green light to visit your doctor immediately.

  • Fevers, pelvic pain, vulva itching accompanied by pain (this could be an obvious sign of an infection)
  • Vaginal itchiness after unprotected sex with a new partner
  • Vaginal itchiness accompanied by a foul smelling discharge

Also, visit your doctor when symptoms persist even in the case of completion of prescribed medications.

SOURCES AND REFERENCES

  1. Vaginitis; symptoms are causes (October 2016): http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/vaginitis/symptoms-causes/dxc-20258675
  1. Vaginal itching, burning and irritation (July 2015): http://www.webmd.com/women/guide/vaginal-itching-burning-irritation#1
  1. Vaginitis (May 2015): http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/vaginitis/Pages/Introduction.aspx
  1. Vulvovaginal candidiasis (January 2015): https://www.cdc.gov/std/tg2015/candidiasis.htm
  1. Vaginal dryness, symptoms causes and remedies (April 2015): http://mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/vaginal-dryness-symptoms-causes-and-remedies

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