Most of the time people talk about the pleasure of sex. Less often they talk about pain related to sex, which can take away a lot of the pleasure.
Cramping is just one type of pain you may experience after sex. But if you’re experiencing it, you’re not alone. What causes this cramping and what can be done about it? Read on to find out.
Does an IUD play a role in cramps after sex?
An intrauterine device (IUD) is a type of birth control. It’s a small piece of plastic shaped like a T that’s inserted into the uterus. IUDs prevent unwanted pregnancy by stopping sperm cells from reaching an egg. Some also contain hormones.
A woman may experience cramping up to several weeks after an IUD is inserted, regardless of whether or not she has sex. Once she starts having sex, these cramps may feel more intense. But that shouldn’t always be a cause for alarm.
Sexual intercourse can’t displace an IUD, so there’s no need to worry if you experience cramping during the few weeks after IUD insertion. If it’s been more than a few weeks after insertion and you’re still experiencing cramping, you may want to speak to your doctor about what could be causing the pain.
Causes of cramps in both sexes
There are many potential causes of cramps after sex in both men and women.
Similar to during exercise, straining the pelvic and abdominal muscles during sex can sometimes lead to cramping.
Tight muscles, dehydration, or working the muscle in an awkward position can all cause cramps. These cramps usually dissipate after a few seconds to minutes.
An orgasm can also cause cramps. An orgasm involves the involuntary contraction of the muscles in the pelvis and pelvic floor.
If these muscles continue to contract intensely, they may cause temporary cramps after sex.
Issues with the digestive system can cause abdominal cramping. Constipation and gas are two common causes of stomach pain after sex.
Other bowel problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome, can also cause cramping.
Likewise, problems with the bladder or urinary system can also cause pain after sex. The bladder sits right in front of the uterus, and intercourse can sometimes irritate it.
This is particularly true if someone has a urinary tract infection or a condition called interstitial cystitis, which causes pain and pressure in the pelvis and urinary system.
Sexually transmitted infections
Some sexually transmitted infections (STIs), particularly chlamydia and gonorrhea, can cause abdominal cramping, including after intercourse.
Many STIs do not cause any symptoms, so it is best to get tested regularly. Some STIs can also cause discharge from the penis or vagina, as well as pain during urination.
Sometimes, past trauma or an emotional issue surrounding sex can manifest as physical discomfort or pain during or after intercourse.
Even everyday stressors and anxiety can build up and cause muscle tension or cramping.
Causes of cramps in women
For women, some possible causes of cramps after sex include:
Deep penetration, especially against the cervix, can cause irritation and cramping. Injury or infection of the cervix can make it more susceptible to cramping or pain.
The ovaries are two small organs located on either side of the uterus. Sometimes, a cyst grows on or in the ovary.
While these cysts are not usually dangerous, they can cause pain or discomfort after sex.
Each month, one of the ovaries grows a follicle that contains a maturing egg. About 2 weeks before a woman’s period, that follicle ruptures, releasing the egg for potential fertilization and conception.
Having sex around this time can cause abdominal cramping in some people.
Fibroids are growths that occur in the wall of the uterus. They are usually benign, or noncancerous.
They can cause symptoms such as heavy menstrual bleeding and abdominal pain, as well as cramps, after sex.
Vaginismus occurs when the vaginal muscles involuntarily contract when a person attempts to insert something.
It can happen during penetrative sex and vaginal medical exams, as well as when a person tries to use a tampon.
Although vaginismus can be distressing, it does not always affect whether a person can become aroused and enjoy other types of sexual stimulation.
A person may need to see a sex therapist, who can help them manage anxiety and recommend relaxation exercises.
Pelvic floor exercises may also help treat vaginismus.
Pelvic inflammatory disease
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection in the female reproductive system.
STIs such as chlamydia or gonorrhea can cause PID, and it can also occur after medical procedures, such as insertion of an intrauterine device.
Endometriosis is the growth of tissue similar to that which grows in the uterus in places outside of the uterus.
It can cause severe cramping and abdominal pain both during and after sex. Other symptoms of endometriosis include heavy bleeding during menstruation and abnormally painful periods.
In some women, the uterus tilts backward instead of leaning forward. The medical term for this is a retroverted uterus.
In people with a retroverted uterus, the penis may put pressure on the uterus during intercourse, which can cause cramps.
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