Cramping after sex can occur for a wide variety of reasons and is not always a sign of an underlying medical condition. For example, orgasm and ejaculation can cause the release of substances called prostaglandins, which cause muscle contractions that may feel like cramps. In most cases, the pain is temporary and fades away on its own.
However, if you are frequently experiencing pain after sex, you may want to seek medical advice. Contact your doctor if you experience:
- Severe pain that interferes with your sexual life
- Increasing pain intensity
- Bleeding or spotting during or after sex
- Lesions or bumps in your genital area
- Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
- Uncontrolled or involuntary contractions of the vaginal muscles
- Irregular or heavy periods
- Unexplained loss of weight
- Cramping during or after sex in pregnancy
What causes cramps after sex?
Causes of cramps after sex may include:
- Sexually transmitted infections (genital herpes, human papillomavirus, chlamydia, or molluscum contagiosum)
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (infection of the uterus, ovaries, or fallopian tubes)
- Vaginal dryness due to menopause, hormonal changes, medications, or insufficient foreplay
- Fibroids or leiomyomas (noncancerous growths arising from the muscle layer of the uterus or cervix)
- Endometriosis (a medical condition in which the endometrium or tissue that lines the inner surface of the uterus grows elsewhere in the body)
- Vaginismus (involuntary contraction of vaginal muscles)
- Retroverted uterus or tipped uterus (an abnormality in the anatomical position of the uterus where the uterus is tilted backward)
- Psychological factors (stress, anxiety, or fear related to sexual intercourse)
- Imperforate hymen (a condition in which the hymen blocks the entire vaginal opening)
- Skin conditions in the genital area (eczema or intertrigo)
- Inflammation of the urethra (urethritis) or urinary bladder (cystitis)
- Ovarian cysts
- Uterine prolapse
- Radiation or chemotherapy
- Previous surgeries (such as hysterectomy and myomectomy)
- Following intrauterine device (IUD) insertion
- Following childbirth
- Cervicitis or cervical erosion
- Cancer (rare)
How to treat cramps after sex
Treatment of cramps after sex depends on the cause or underlying health condition. Your doctor will take a detailed medical history, perform a physical examination, and order relevant investigations to confirm a diagnosis.
- If no underlying medical condition is found, the cause of cramps may be due to psychological factors, for which counseling may be recommended.
- If an infection is causing your symptoms, your doctor will prescribe antimicrobial medications (antibiotics, antifungal, or antiviral medications depending on the cause of infection).
- Hormone replacement therapy may be advised if menopause is causing your symptoms. Ospemifene is an oral medication approved by the FDA to treat painful intercourse in menopausal women.
- If certain medications are causing vaginal dryness, your doctor may prescribe suitable replacements for the medications.
- For vaginal dryness, your doctor may recommend topical estrogen or vaginal lubricants.
- Skin conditions may be addressed by suitable therapy prescribed by a dermatologist. Your doctor may advise you to avoid synthetic panties, vaginal douching, or the use of fragrances, including scented creams, pads, or toilet papers in your genital area.
- Surgery may be needed to treat certain conditions, such as fibroids or endometriosis.
Your doctor may also recommend some home-management tips, such as:
- Your Child Is Sick. Do You Call Your Doctor or Head to the ER?
- Mental Health Care Shortage Could Play Role in U.S. Youth Suicides
- Shopping Black Friday for TVs, Furniture? Don't Forget the Tip-Over Kit
- Keeping Thanksgiving Day Kitchens Safe for the Whole Family
- All the Flavor, Better Health: Holiday Dinner Ingredient Swaps That Work
- More Health News »
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Heim LJ. Evaluation and Differential Diagnosis of Dyspareunia. Am Fam Physician. 2001 Apr 15;63(8):1535-1545. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2001/0415/p1535.html
Cleveland Clinic. Dyspareunia (Painful Intercourse). https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/12325-dyspareunia-painful-intercourse
Top Is It Normal to Cramp After Sex Related Articles
4 Sex Topics You Should Discuss With Your PartnerOne-on-one contact, empathy, and emotional connections are all usually very important in establishing sexual intimacy. Four sex topics you should discuss with your partner include physical limitations, gender history, sexually transmitted diseases (STD), and religious upbringing.
7 Most Erogenous Zones On a WomanEveryone has sensitive touchpoints or erogenous zones on their bodies. The seven most erogenous zones on a woman are the ears, fingertips and palms, nipples, inner thighs, clitoris, A-spot, and the bottom of the feet.
Cramps but No PeriodHaving cramps but no period can occur because of conditions other than your monthly menstrual cycle. They may feel like period cramps of the lower abdomen when you are not due for your period and produce no blood. These 12 diseases and conditions are examples of what can cause abdominal cramping when not on period.
Do Men or Women Feel More Pleasure During Sex?Everyone feels pleasure differently during sex. Both men and women can feel great pleasure during sex.
Muscle CrampsMuscle cramps are involuntarily and forcibly contracted muscles that do not relax. Extremely common, any muscles that have voluntary control, including some organs, are subject to cramp. Since there is such variety in the types of muscle cramps that can occur, many causes and preventative medications are known. Stretching is the most common way to stop or prevent most muscle cramps.
Muscle Cramps: TreatmentMuscle cramps cannot be stopped instantly with injections or pills, but some methods can be useful to relieve them which include stretching, massage, application of heat and cold, walking and taking B vitamins.
25 Ways to Relieve Menstrual CrampsMenstrual cramps happen when prostaglandins force the uterus to contract. Dysmenorrhea, or period pain, may be relieved by heating pads, ibuprofen, and other measures. Endometriosis may cause severe cramps during the menstrual cycle. Luckily, women have many options for period pain relief.
Sex & Love QuizRelationships, sex, and love! Could it be that what motivates physical attraction in us may be all in our minds? Take the Sex & Love Quiz to challenge yourself on healthy human sexuality!
Female Sexual ProblemsSexual dysfunction refers to a problem that arises during any phase of the sexual response cycle, preventing an individual or couple from experiencing sexual satisfaction. Physical, medical, and psychological conditions may affect sexual functioning, resulting in inhibited sexual desire, inability to become aroused, lack of orgasm, and painful intercourse. Treating the underlying physical and psychological problems usually resolves most female sexual problems.
Sexual Health: 12 Tips for Better SexCan you learn new techniques to breathe better? Healthy breathing helps you maintain the right balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your blood. Breathing training and other healthy habits can improve your lung capacity.
Sexual Health: Common Sex Injuries and Other HazardsSex is supposed to be pleasurable, but make the wrong moves in the bedroom, and it can hurt.
What Causes Low, Normal, and High Sex DrivesYour sex drive, also called your libido, refers to how much you would like to have sex. Low, normal, and high sex drives may be due to hormones, medical problems, medications, mental health issues, and other factors.