Here's What Stomach Pain after Sex Might Actually Mean

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Nothing ruins the mood like a bad case of stomach pain after sex. Sure, writhing around in bed is all fun and games when you’re writhing in pleasure. But writhing in pain? No thanks. Plus, orgasms are just as much mental as they are physical: If you’re distracted by stomach pain or the anticipation of it, you’re gonna have a harder time reaching orgasm. And we can’t have that, now can we?!

Turns out, there are loads of possible culprits for your post-sex stomach woes, from vaginal dryness to straight-up constipation. And many of them, like period cramps or an achy vagina after deep penetrative sex, are benign. But still, the docs agree: Stomach pain after sex warrants a visit to a medical professional, starting with your ob-gyn.

San Francisco–based physical therapist Dr. Rachel Gelman, owner of Pelvic Wellness and Physical Therapy, says stomach pain after sex could be an indication of many things. It’s important to visit a doctor to rule out any severe complications, she says, like an infection, or other conditions, like endometriosis (tissue growing on the outside of the uterus) or adenomyosis (tissue growing into the uterine wall).

New York–based gynecologist Dr. Adeeti Gupta, founder of Walk In GYN Care, says that a visit to a gynecologist will likely yield a urine test to rule out infection, plus a pelvic sonogram to check out the uterus, tubes, ovaries, and your gut.

If all looks good, a few simple home remedies should get you back in action in a breeze. But if there are any concerns, you may get referred to a pelvic floor specialist, like Dr. Gelman, who can further assess the issue.

For now, read on for more info about stomach pain after sex, plus a few pointers on how to get your tummy back in tip-top shape—before, during, and after sex, and basically all the time.

Stomach pain after sex is pretty common.

Like many things relating to women’s healthcare, Dr. Gupta says stomach pain after sex is not unusual, it just doesn’t get a whole lot of attention. “It is more common than we think,” she says. “People just don’t talk about it.”

Dr. Gelman agrees, but adds that just because it’s relatively normal doesn’t mean it should go unnoticed or unaddressed. “In general, pain with sex is a common problem, but stomach pain following sex is not necessarily something that affects the entire population,” she says. “It is definitely something a person should see their doctor about.”

Post-penetration stomach pain isn’t cause for panic on its own, but regardless, it’s an important thing to look into with the help of a professional.

Stomach pain after sex could be as benign as indigestion.

If you’re gassy, constipated, or have an upset stomach, penetrative sex might not be the best option. During sex, “an angry gut from things like gas, dairy or gluten intolerance, diverticulitis, colitis, etc. might [make you] feel nauseous and [feel] other bowel symptoms as well,” Dr. Gupta explains. But if your stomach felt fine before sex, there could be plenty of other benign explanations for the post-sex pain.

Hormonal changes could also contribute to the discomfort, and the pain could be worse at different phases of your menstrual cycle. Period cramps and vaginal dryness, which can be exacerbated by hormonal shifts from things like menopause or birth control pills, might contribute to feelings of irritation or pain in your lower abdomen and pelvic region.

If you have a uterus that tilts backwards—and Yale New Haven Hospital ob-gyn Mary Jane Minkin recently told Women’s Health that around 30 percent of women do, sometimes as a result of scar tissue from an infection or endometriosis—stomach pain after sex might be a consistent problem for you.

Sometimes persistent pain surrounding sex isn’t a physical issue but an emotional one, or some combination of the two. Past sexual trauma can contribute to pain during and after sex, known as genito-pelvic pain/penetration disorder (GPP/PD), according to the Sexual Medicine Society of North America.

Yet another possible explanation for your pain is that the penis or dildo you’re having sex with is simply too big for certain positions, Dr. Gelman says. Lengthy penises and dildos that bump around your insides can cause discomfort after the fact.

“If a person is having penetrative vaginal sex and the cervix is hit, it can cause nausea or stomach pain,” she explains. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to deal. More on this later.

…Or stomach pain could be more serious.

Your stomach pain after sex could be for any number of totally benign reasons. But it’s best not to self-diagnose, because even if it seems attributable to one thing, a doctor will be able to assess whether or not there’s an underlying medical issue that needs attention. Endometriosis, adenomyosis, and infections (including, but not limited to, UTIs, pelvic inflammatory disease, and chlamydia) are all examples of medical issues tied to stomach pain that require expert care.

“Our abdomen houses a lot of organs: gut, bladder, uterus, tubes, and ovaries,” Dr. Gupta says. “Infection or inflammation in any of these organs can cause pain during or after sex.”

Separately, she says, “severe menstrual-like cramps after sex,” could indicate chronic (and very painful!) conditions like endometriosis or adenomyosis, or infections that need immediate treatment like pelvic inflammatory disease, UTIs and STIs, or bladder infections.

Other potential causes of post-sex stomach pain include benign cysts or fibroids on your uterus, which can sometimes go away on their own without any medical intervention. But if they’re causing significant discomfort, talk to your doctor about whether they need to be removed.

Sometimes, a gynecologist won’t be able to find the root of your pain and they’ll refer you to a pelvic specialist, like Dr. Gelman, who’s able to assess for a musculoskeletal cause.

“Inside the pelvis is a bowl of muscles that support the pelvic organs: bladder, bowels, and uterus/prostate,” Dr. Gelman explains. “If these muscles become dysfunctional it can cause pain during and/or post sexual activity, [sometimes] in areas away from the pelvis, such as the abdomen.”

Either way, get thee to a doc.

You likely won’t know the true culprit of your stomach pain (and therefore be able to properly address it) until you consult a medical professional. If you have an infection, a gyno should be able to prescribe antibiotics to clear it up. If it’s something else that they’re not able to directly address, they’ll likely refer you out to someone who can.

“If the issue is due to pelvic floor muscle dysfunction, a pelvic floor specialist would be able to address the muscles in and around the pelvis, which can provide relief,” Dr. Gelman says.

In the meantime, here are ways to ease stomach pain after sex at home.

Until you’re able to consult your medical provider, Dr. Gelman and Dr. Gupta say there’s a whole slew of at-home tweaks you can make to soothe some of the stomach pain. Lay a heating pad on your belly after sex. Try some grounding yoga poses like Happy Baby or Child’s Pose to facilitate relaxation. Guided meditation and diaphragmatic breathing can also help relax the muscles of the abdomen and calm the discomfort. If you’re bloaty and gassy on a regular basis, Dr. Gupta says drinking a lot of water, eating a balanced diet, and taking probiotics to avoid constipation can be helpful lifestyle changes.

There are also some changes you can try during sex that could help with pain that comes after, like new positions that angle the pelvis differently, or new toys. “Go slow and communicate with your partner,” Dr. Gelman says. “If symptoms are due to deep penetration causing the cervix to be hit, a device such as the Ohnut may help to limit deep penetration.”

Especially for those with endometriosis or adenomyosis, Dr. Gupta says different sex positions can make a huge difference. If you always feel pain after missionary or doggy style, try some positions that allow for shallower penetration. “Sideways or putting a pillow under your hips can help relieve the pressure on the uterus during intercourse,” she recommends. You may also find that you have better control in positions like cowgirl where you can be on top.

And finally, as Dr. Gelman reminds us, “penetration is not the only way to have sex!” If you’re feeling discomfort associated with penetration, try external stimulation for a while instead. Oral sex, scissoring and grinding, vibrators, and more delicious non-penetrative sexy times await you and your sensitive belly.

Stomach pain after sex is as good a sign as any to take your health into your own hands, be proactive, talk to a medical professional, and prioritize your pleasure (and comfort), always.

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