Pain during sex isn’t uncommon, but it is unfortunate. If you’re asking yourself, “why does my stomach hurt after sex?” we’re here to do what we can to help answer that question. Sex should be fun and pleasurable — and it should never hurt (unless that’s your thing and it’s a consensual situation).
We’ve got five of the most common causes of stomach pain after sex and a few suggestions for helping minimize or even prevent it from occurring in the first place.
What Are Some Causes of Stomach Pain After Sex?
So, you’re asking yourself, “why does my stomach hurt after sex?”. While we can’t tell you precisely what your specific discomfort is triggered by, we have a little insight via five common triggers people deal with.
An Intense Orgasm
But orgasms are great, right? Why would an orgasm cause stomach pain? We’re huge fans of orgasms, obviously, but a small group of people doesn’t always experience them as the wonderful, mind-blowing occasions they can be.
If orgasms cause you pain, you may have a condition known as dysorgasmia. When people with female bodies have an orgasm, they respond by contracting the uterine muscles. You may experience this as a “twitch” after you get off, but it usually doesn’t last longer than a few seconds after sex.
For people with dysorgasmia, those contractions trigger even more muscle contractions higher up in the pelvis and abdomen. Dysorgasmia has been described as feeling similar to menstrual cramps, and it can last anywhere from just a few minutes to several hours.
The more intense the orgasm, the more likely people with dysorgasmia will have stomach pain after sex. People with endometriosis, ovarian cysts, pelvic floor dysfunction, or who have had a prostatectomy are even more likely to deal with this issue. Kinda takes all the fun out of it, doesn’t it?
There’s also a possibility that dysorgasmia can be triggered not by a physical condition but by an emotional response. Some sexual trauma survivors experience a physical reaction to their emotional trauma, causing them to experience pain with no actual trigger.
Listen, we know nobody likes to talk about gas (especially when it comes to gas during intimacy — which can be super embarrassing, even though it’s a natural bodily function). But if your stomach hurts after sex, it may be as simple as what you’ve been eating before getting it on. Food sensitivities, especially to things like dairy or gluten, can definitely make your stomach act up.
There’s another way gas can happen in your system after sex, too. Penetrative sex (either in the vagina or anus) can also cause air to be pushed into your body, which can build up and cause uncomfortable pressure in your lower abdomen and belly.
Either way, when your intestines fill with gas, it causes them to dilate. Some people experience so much gas and dilation that they look physically bloated. Unfortunately, the only way to get rid of that gas is to, well, “pass” it out.
You’re on Your Period
Period sex is awesome. It can relieve cramps, it often leads to higher sensitivity, and it’s a great distraction from PMS. However, like other things that can make your hormones fluctuate, being on your period can make sex a little more uncomfortable than at different times of the month.
Plus, although orgasms can definitely help release hormones that can minimize menstrual cramping and discomfort, that discomfort does eventually come back. If you’re prone to cramping, sex can temporarily feel good but may worsen your cramps in the long run.
On the plus side, sex can actually feel a lot better while you’re on your period — there is much more blood flow to the area, increasing sensitivity and pleasure.
Some Medical Conditions
Other medical conditions can also play a role in your stomach hurting after sex, especially if they’re gynecological. If you deal with any recurrent GI issues (like IBS), urinary tract infection (UTI), or chronic pelvic pain outside of intercourse, you’re even more at risk.
Remember, everything in the pelvis and abdomen essentially rubs against everything else. If one part of your system is “sick,” it can impact the rest of it.
In some situations, STIs can cause your pelvis and abdomen to hurt after sex. If you haven’t been tested in a while (especially if you’ve had a change in sexual partners recently), it’s a good idea to get checked out anyway! Most STIs are treatable or, at the very least manageable, and we’ve come a lot way toward reducing the stigma of these infections.
Dryness and Irritation
While vaginal dryness doesn’t pertain to stomach pain, we think it’s important to address this common cause of discomfort during and after sex. Vaginal dryness happens to everyone at some point in their sexual careers, and it (usually) has nothing to do with how turned on you are. Hormonal forms of birth control, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and the menopausal process increase the likelihood that your body won’t be able to keep up with your need, leading to vaginal dryness and irritation at the most inopportune moments.
A little discomfort is one thing, but prolonged discomfort can lead to lower abdominal pain after getting it on. Essentially vaginal dryness can eventually lead to increased friction, damaging the tissue and causing your body to get tense in an attempt to protect you. What feels good in the moment can lead to discomfort pretty quickly afterward.
Over a prolonged amount of time, vaginal dryness can also lead to the breakdown of those delicate tissues that make up the inside of the vagina. This is known as vaginal atrophy, which can make sex even more uncomfortable (and cause post-menopausal spotting and bleeding, which is shocking if you haven’t had a period in a while!).
How Can You Relieve Stomach Pain From Sex?
Hopefully, you’ve gained a little insight into why your stomach may be hurting after sex. But what can you do about your triggers to help make sex more comfortable and pleasurable?
A great place to help relieve stomach pain after sex is with a gentle, non-invasive stomach massage. All it takes is a few simple techniques you can do yourself (or teach your partner to do) to relax your stomach muscles and soothe at least some of that discomfort.
You can even use the same massage to help with menstrual cramping!
- Start by lying flat on your back with your stomach exposed.
- Place your hands on your lower abdomen and focus on your breathing.
- Warm your hands up if they’re cold (try rubbing them together for a while), then put massage oil or relief salve in your hands and let that warm up, too.
- Rub your stomach in a clockwise motion with the palm of your hand using moderate pressure — repeat several times.
- Then, use the palm of your hand to rub from your sternum (breastbone) down to your pubic bone. Every time you massage downward, move over an inch until you’ve massaged your entire abdomen. This should take about six to seven passes.
- Apply more massage oil if needed, then use your fingertips in and around your belly button to massage in a clockwise motion with gentle pressure. Circle outwards.
There are also a lot of massage therapists that perform this type of massage if you’re uncomfortable with doing it yourself! Treat yourself.
We love heat to help with discomfort, whether menstrual pain, pain after intercourse, or just achy, sore muscles. There’s nothing better than a nice warm heating pad or hot water bottle to get rid of tight, crampy muscles, regardless of where they come from.
A few tips, though. Don’t let the heating pad sit directly on your skin, no matter how crampy you feel. You may burn your skin without knowing it, causing another uncomfortable set of issues!
Try using it with a washcloth or towel between you, and take a break after 15 to 20 minutes to let your skin breathe and see how you feel. Also, if you feel yourself nodding off at any point, take a second to switch your heating pad off so that it’s not a fire hazard!
A newer addition to the game is vaginal suppositories, which can help ease discomfort from the inside out. While they work best as a preventative, they can also be used after sex if you start to get that familiar, crampy feeling.
All you need to do is insert one into your vagina after sex, lay back, and let it help to soothe some of the discomfort. Try combining it with a heating pad for even more effective relief!
Can You Prevent Stomach Aches From Sex?
There’s an old saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Preventing stomach aches from sex is way easier and more effective than finding ways to fix the discomfort if it’s already happening.
The first step with any new pain is to see if there’s a medical cause. We recommend a check-up with your doctor to rule out health issues or treat any present!
Once you've gotten the all-clear, you can work on other ways to prevent discomfort, too — they make for great supplements to the advice you get from your healthcare professional! After that, it’s all about identifying your most direct trigger and taking steps to minimize its impact.
Unsure what we mean? Here are a few examples:
If you are dealing with uncomfortable gas during or after sex, pay attention to what you eat beforehand! You may be able to identify an easy culprit that you can cut out for a day or two if you know you’re going to be getting intimate.
If it’s not food-based (or you can’t figure out an obvious food trigger), you may also want to look into what positions seem to be causing trouble. Don’t be afraid to try new things — sometimes, all it takes is a little creativity.
For vaginal dryness, there’s no better over-the-counter treatment than lubrication. Lube can help keep everything slippery, reducing the potential for uncomfortable friction and irritation.
Just make sure you’re matching your lube with how you plan to use it — oil-based lubes can increase the likelihood of condom breakage, while silicone-based lubes can speed up the breakdown of silicone sex toys. And don’t be afraid to use it liberally; there’s no such thing as too much lube.
Do more foreplay! Preparing your body for sex can loosen everything up and get you more ready, especially if penetration is on the table.
Combined with the right lube, it may not totally reduce discomfort, but it can definitely help. Plus, it gets your head in the game, which is often half the battle! More arousal = more lubrication = less discomfort both during and after sex.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Communicate with your partner. If your stomach is hurting before, during, or after sex, tell them! They can’t help you if they don’t know what’s going on, and talking to them about how you feel can help you both come up with solutions.
Sex shouldn’t be painful, and allowing it to continue to hurt by just “sucking it up” can drive an unintended wedge into your relationship. Communication is vital to maintain a healthy, happy, pleasurable sex life.
The Bottom Line
Why does my stomach hurt after sex? While we talked about five potential causes of postcoital stomach pain, the only way to know what’s going on for sure is to check with your doctor.
Once you know what’s going on, you can take steps to prevent that pain from happening in the first place! Foria Wellness is all about making sex fun, safe, and pleasurable, so stick with us for all the tips and tricks you need to have a good time every time.
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