Ouch! Something hurts – down there. For some women it's because they just gave birth. Or, maybe there are some women who have been a mama for a while and they’re ready to jump back into romantic time with their S.O. Whatever a woman's story is, she's feeling like her hoo-ha is ho-hum.
Hey, it happens. Those weirdo pains, the aches and anything else that doesn’t feel exactly right down there can make a woman's life miserable. Really, really miserable. And, the kicker is that there are many times when a woman has absolutely no clue as to why she's feeling that oh-so-special pain, where it came from or what’s going on.
It hurts like no other, and women can feel totally lost when it comes to making themselves feel better. Obviously, this is where the doctor comes in. When something hurts, and that pain won’t go away, that when a woman needs professional medical help. Well, duh. Sometimes it’s easier said than done.
Unlike some other areas of a woman's body, vaginal pain may come with a stigma. Or, at the very least, some level of an embarrassment factor. If a woman's throat hurts, she heads out to the nearest express medi clinic and confidently announces that she thinks she has strep.
But, if a woman has a pain down there, she might feel less comfortable talking about it. Of course, that’s what the doc is there for. An OB-GYN has heard and seen it all, and is (or should be) totally non-judgmental.
Check out these conditions, illnesses and injuries that can put those lady parts into some sort of otherworldly crazy-pain. And, if any of these sound familiar, or there's some other sort of not so hot feeling going on down there, call the doctor right away. Only a qualified, licensed medical professional can diagnose and treat a health and/or gynecological problem.
Even if it seems kind of embarrassing, it’s always better to get medical help than just cross legs and hope to feel better soon.
Vaginismus is the involuntary spasm of the vaginal muscles when something starts entering it. Huh? So, most women start feeling this spasm-y pain during sex. When their guy enters them, they clamp down. The result? Painful sex. Vaginismus can also happen when inserting a tampon or during a pelvic exam.
Keep in mind, not all painful sex is a result of vaginismus. If your doc has ruled out everything else, this might just be the cause. Unlike injuries and infections, this vaginal issue typically doesn’t have a physical root. Vaginismus is often connected to anxiety, stress or fear surrounding sex. These negative feelings may make seeking treatment a challenge.
If you’re already having sex-related anxiety, asking for help may seem extra-stressful. Even so, it is possible to treat this condition and reduce the pain related to sex. Therapists and sex therapists can help with the mental component of this disorder. Along with therapy, some women respond well to physical treatments, such as dilators.
A vaginal dilator can help women with vaginismus to get better control over the pelvic floor muscles – which reduces the spasm and clenching effect.
14 Interstitial Cystitis
Your uterus, ovaries, cervix and vagina aren’t the only body parts down there. Sometimes whatever is hurting you doesn’t come from your reproductive tract. Interstitial cystitis is a chronic condition that causes bladder pain and pressure. Some women also experience pelvic pain and pain during sex as well. The result, aide from the pain, is a near-constant urge to pee.
Keep in mind, this is a chronic condition and not a temporary one (such as a UTI). Unlike UTIs, which are caused by bacteria, interstitial cystitis isn’t part of an infection. It’s thought that people who suffer from this condition have a defect in the protective lining of the bladder. If you suspect that you may have this condition, you’ll need a doctor to diagnose it.
The OBGYN will give you a pelvic exam, a urine test and possibly a biopsy (from the bladder).
The doctor may prescribe a medication to take care of some of the symptoms. NSAIDS (such as ibuprofen) can reduce some of the pain, tricyclic antidepressants can relax your bladder and antihistamines can reduce the urgency you feel. Other treatments include physical therapy, surgery and nerve stimulation.
13 Separated Pubic Symphysis
Yep, you can break your pelvis. But, these breaks are rare. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons notes that only 3% of adult fractures are in the pelvis. Most of these breaks come from traumatic injuries, such as car accidents. Childbirth can also cause pelvic trauma. Typically, it’s not the fracture kind.
Separated pubic symphysis is painful, and sometimes it’s part of labor and delivery. Your pelvis is joined in the front by a narrow band of cartilage and ligaments. When the pelvic bones loosen during pregnancy, this area can separate. Don’t stress. This isn’t a permanent change or a chronic condition.
Most women heal in three to eight months. Okay, so that’s not exactly a teeny tiny time. But, that pain won’t stick around. It’s typically the worst in the first two months after delivery.
In some cases, this condition may make a vaginal delivery difficult if not impossible. Keep in mind, it’s rare that the area separates enough to nix delivery. If this does happen, a C-section is in your future.
That pain down there won’t go away. You’ve been to the doctor – and, nothing. So, you saw another doctor. And, nothing. You’ve had exams, evaluations and all kinds of tests. And, nothing. Vulvar pain that is chronic and has no identifiable cause is known as vulvodynia.
Most women feel this as a burning pain in one or several spots. There are two subtypes of this condition, localized and generalized. Localized vulvodynia is (as the name suggests) pain in one area. Many women with localized vulvodynia have what’s known as Provoked Vestibulodynia (PVD).
PVD happens when or after pressure is applied to the vestibule area. The pressure may come from sex, a GYN exam, sitting for too long, tight pants or even from putting a tampon in. Generalized vulvodynia is typically spontaneous (meaning that it doesn’t matter whether pressure is applied or not) and fairly chronic. Pressure may make the symptoms worse, but it isn’t necessary to cause that uncomfortable feeling.
The good news here is that there are a variety of different treatments. After the doctor has ruled out a specific cause, you can work together to find the treatment that makes the most sense for your condition. Available treatments include oral pain-blocking medications, topical medications, nerve blocks, pelvic floor muscle therapy, alternative/holistic medical treatments and surgery. Surgery is only used for women with PVD.
11 Lack Of Lubrication
Sex hurts. It’s irritating and you’re at the point where you just would rather say “no.” Now what? Go to the doctor. Your OBGYN will check you out and make sure that nothing serious is going on. The doc has ruled out pretty much everything. That is, except vaginal dryness.
Not having enough lubrication down there is completely common – especially when you have changing hormone levels. A drop in estrogen levels is a major culprit here. This can happen following childbirth and during breastfeeding. It can also happen during menopause. But, you’re not exactly there yet.
Vaginal dryness can also happen for some non-hormonal reasons. Some allergy and cold medications, douching and not enough foreplay before your guy goes for it can also cause a lack of lube.
So, how can you make this down there-dryness go away? Women with hormonal disorders and those going through menopause may want to try prescription vagina estrogen (it comes in a ring, vaginal tablet and cream). If you’re experiencing a temporary dryness, just had a baby or are breastfeeding, estrogen medications aren’t for you.
Talk to your doctor about what may work in your situation. Something as simple as adding in some extra foreplay may get the lubrication flowing. If not, a water-based lubricant can work wonders and seriously cut the friction factor.
10 Harmful Diseases And Infections
Some pains down there are serious symptoms. You should never ignore a pain or uncomfortable feeling – especially if you have no idea what the cause is. Some sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can cause vaginal pain. Some STDs are on the rise. Cases of Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and Syphilis are all increasing in the U.S., according to the CDC.
Along with these STDs other infections such as Trichomoniasis and herpes can cause pain and/or discomfort.
Many women have no or every few symptoms with some of the more common STDs. If there are symptoms, the most common signs are vaginal discharge, itching, pain and a burning feeling. Some women experience pelvic/internal pain as well. This may signal a more serious condition such as Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID).
Getting immediate treatment of an STD is important for your reproductive health. Your doctor will need to prescribe medication and you’ll need to abstain from sex until the infection has cleared. Your partner will also need to be treated before the two of you resume your sexual relationship. If not, the two of you will continue to pass the infection back and forth.
9 Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable Bowel Syndrome? Doesn’t that cause pain at the, um – other end? Well, yeah. But, it can also cause some serious hoo-ha pain too. IBS can cause severe and persistent diarrhea or constipation. It can also cause abdominal pain and cramping.
IBS may make your monthly friend worse than it already is, adding to the cramping and discomfort. After a diagnosis, your doctor can help you to come up with a treatment plan. Not only will this reduce your IBS symptoms, but it can help the result reproductive tract ones as well.
The specific type of treatment that the doctor decides on depends on the type of IBS you have and your situation. Obviously if you have IBS with constipation your treatment will differ from that of someone who has IBS with diarrhea. The doctor may prescribe medications, restrict your diet or even recommend behavioral therapy to help ease the symptoms.
8 Ovarian Cysts
You’re having pelvic pain. It might not be crazy-bad, but it’s at the very least kind of troubling. You’re not supposed have pain down here. So, what’s going on with the weirdo pangs? It may be an ovarian cyst. Of course, only a doctor can tell if you do (or don’t) have one of these little fluid-filled sacs.
Your OBGYN can rule out anything more serious and diagnose a cyst through a thorough exams, imagining and tests.
There are a few different types of ovarian cysts. The most common ones are follicle cysts and corpus luteum cysts. Follicle cysts happen when the follicle doesn’t open up and release an egg. It keeps on growing, but eventually goes away (it can take from one to three months). If the egg does come out of the sac, but the sac reseals, you can get a corpus luteum cyst.
Fluid builds up inside, causing an enlarged cyst. These typically go away within weeks of forming.
It’s entirely possible to have a cyst and not know it. If you do have pain it can be anything from mild to sharp or severe. Some women also experience pain during sex, unusual vaginal bleeding or problems emptying the bladder or bowel completely.
More than 11 % of women in the U.S. between the ages of 15 and 44 are affected by endometriosis, according to the Office on Women’s Health. This potentially painful medical condition happens when the tissue that normally lines the uterus grows in other areas (in other words, outside of the uterus).
So, where does the tissue grow? Well, it can grow on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, outer surface of the uterus, cervix, vagina, bowel, bladder, rectum or even other (non-reproductive/non-digestive) body parts.
It’s typical to feel pain with endometriosis – that is, chronic pelvic pain. The pain is often worse during that time of the month and during sex. Along with these painful AF symptoms, some women also experience painful bowel movements – especially during their period. Other signs of endometriosis include bleeding or spotting between periods, infertility and digestive problems that have no other cause.
Even though endometriosis isn’t exactly anything that a woman wants to have, the doc can help you to treat it. Women who aren’t trying to get pregnant can try birth control pills or a hormonal IUD. If you are TTC the OBGYN may recommend a gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist. This will temporarily stop ovulation.
Seems kind of counterproductive, right? Kind of. If it works, you can go ahead and try for that baby after you stop taking it. And, you chances of getting preggo are likely to be better than they were before. Women who have severe symptoms or don’t respond to medications may need surgery to remove the endometriosis patches.
6 Outer Injury
You’re in the shower shaving and then – whoa! It’s bad enough when you get a little nick on your legs, but your lady parts. Yikes! You may not have even caused serious damage, but that doesn’t mean you’re not in some serious pain. Injuries to the outer vaginal area can burn and hurt like hell. Right?
And those little bikini line shaving injuries aren’t the only ones to watch out for.
So, you say you want to wax yourself? You’re done with those shave bumps and you don’t want to spend a fortune at the day spa for a professional waxing. You heat up the sticky stuff and go at it yourself – with the intent of giving yourself a Brazilian. If the wax is too hot and you drip it too close, you’re in for some pretty torturous pain.
Then there are the non-grooming-related injuries. If you’re a RHONY fan you may be familiar with a vaginal hematoma. When housewife Jules tried to climb through a window she fell (straddling it) and majorly injured her hoo-ha. The result? A vaginal hematoma of epic proportions. Chances are that you too have had a hematoma.
Maybe not on your vag, but somewhere. It’s a bruise and is totally common after an injury.
5 Inner Injury
You’re feeling romantic. Maybe your S.O. is around. Maybe they aren’t. Either way, you can grab your good ol’ vibrating friend and get busy. If it seems like ‘adult’ toy use has suddenly spiked in popularity, chalk it up to the normalization of kink by the mainstream in books and movies like 50 Shades of Grey.
What does this have to do with a painful hoo-ha? Well, use some of these toys in the wrong way and you’ll find out. But, seriously – don’t. Adult toys can become dangerous if they’re not used for their intended purposes. And yes, some people do get creative and use them in ways that they really, really, really were never intended for.
This can cause internal injuries, such as cuts or bruises. Yep, that pleasure can quickly turn to pain. Major pain.
It’s still possible to have an internal vag injury, even if you don’t use toys. Rough or deep penetration during sex can cause bruising inside of your vagina or irritate your cervix. The pain from a bruised vagina or cervix may feel like a minor ache or pretty major cramping. If you’re experiencing pain post-sex, talk to you doc.
Sex shouldn’t be painful. Your OBGYN can evaluate the situation and rule out any other possible problems. If internal bruising is the culprit, you should gradually feel better as your cervix heals.
Pushing another human being out of your hoo-ha isn’t exactly easy, even though we're made to stretch. But, sometimes it doesn’t want to stretch enough. This can lead to tearing. Even though tearing is natural, for some women it can get out of control. Yep, you can tear all of the way.
In order to prevent a jagged or deep tear, some OB’s recommend and episiotomy. Even though the doctor is controlling the cut, it’s still a cut. That means it hurts. You probably won’t notice the pain during delivery. There’s a whole lot of stuff going on down there, and none of it feels good. So, the added pain of an episiotomy may get kind of lumped in with everything else.
The major pain will come along after the baby is out. It’s likely that the doctor will need to stitch up the area. Aside from the stretching and the fact that something the size of a small watermelon came out of there, the episiotomy will cause pain in the days after delivery. Don’t stress too much. It won’t last forever. Before you know it, your vag will heal and that pain will be nothing but a distant memory.
3 An Allergic Reaction
That new body wash you just bought smells like a cupcake married a coconut and gave birth to some sort of magical unicorn pastry. You break open the bottle and lather up in the shower. You rinse it all off, leaving the sweet, sweet smell behind. But, that’s not all you’ve left behind. Yep, you’re allergic to that angelic wash and your hoo-ha is burning.
So, the new wash goes in the trash. The scent isn’t worth the pain.
Body washes, soaps, lotions, shaving creams and other beauty/hygiene products can all cause allergic reactions that make your sensitive skin down there itch, burn, turn red or even blister. Along with what you put on your body, what you wash your clothes and towels in can also irritate your skin.
The first step in minimizing the effects of an allergic reaction is figuring out what caused it. Eliminating that new body wash won’t help if it was actually a new laundry detergent that caused the problem. Before running to the store and buying one of everything in the rash care aisle, talk to the doctor. The skin on and around your vagina is sensitive. Duh.
That’s why you’re having this problem in the first place. Using the wrong type of cream, lotion or rash ‘fix’ may end up making things worse. An OBGYN or dermatologist can recommend something that will help your situation without agitating it.
2 Ingrown Hairs
There’s an odd little bump – down there. You’ve never seen something like this before. And, you kind of freak out. The word “herpes” flashes through your mind and you’re sure that you’ve got an STD. So, you rush to the doctor’s office. And, that’s where you find out what the problem is. You have an ingrown hair.
Whew! No herpes. At least, that’s not what the bump is. It’s an ingrown hair, and it hurts.
Who would have thought something so small could be so painful. After all, it’s just a little hair, right? Instead of growing up and out, an ingrown hair happens when it curves back down and clogs the follicle. It’s likely that the ingrown hair will start out as a small bump. But, it can progress into painful sore. Most ingrown hairs will heal on their own.
If the area becomes infected, doesn’t look right or won’t heal, the doctor can perform a small surgical incision to release the hair and/or prescribe an antibiotic.
1 Changing PH
Your vagina has a “healthy” pH level – it’s between 3.5 and 4.5. Great! Now what the heck does that mean? Well, when you measure the inside of your vag, it should be somewhat acidic. As long as the pH stays in this acidic range, you’re a-okay. But, change the number and things get messy. Oh yeah, and painful too.
It’s not exactly the pH itself that’s giving you the pain. When the pH gets out of balance your vagina isn’t able to regulate the bacteria in it. Yes, you always have bacteria inside of you. And, it’s not all bad. There’s a delicate balance in there, and the good bacteria keeps the bad ones at bay.
But, if you throw off the pH, the not-so-nice bacteria get the opportunity to grow and take over. This can result in bacterial vaginosis (BV). BV can cause an unpleasant odor, itching, burning and pain. Likewise, an unhealthy pH level may allow yeast to flourish. And, we all know what happens then. Yep, the dreaded yeast infection.
So, how can you keep your pH in the right range? Avoid douching or using soaps inside of your vagina. Seriously. There’s no reason to go up in there and clean anything out. Nature takes care of that. If you interfere with nature’s self-cleaning cycle, you run the risk of changing the pH.
Antibiotics, sex , your period and some foods (such as carb-packed foods) can also change your pH. Eating yogurt with active cultures is one way to combat some of these pH changes. If you have an infection due to changes in your pH, you need to see the doctor. Your OBGYN can prescribe a medication or give you an OTC recommendation.
Sources: WomensHealth.gov, WomensHealthmag.com, ScientificAmerican.com