It’s happened to many of us: You’ve had a fun, sexy time with a partner but then, instead of luxuriating in a nice post-coital cuddle, you’re hit with cramping feeling in your lower abdomen. If that’s happened to you, you’re not alone. “Why does my stomach hurt after sex?” is a common question for
sexually active women—and unfortunately, there’s not just one simple answer to why some women experience cramping after sex. There are, however, a few common reasons — some of which point to an issue which you should get checked out by a physician, and some which are likely to resolve on their own.
It’s worth figuring out whether your post-sex cramping is caused by a permanent issue or a temporary one.
Having a titled uterus can make certain sexual positions uncomfortable — and that will likely always be the case, since unless you get a surgery called “uterine suspension” (reserved for more serious cases) your uterus will probably stay tilted and you’ll want to steer clear of certain sexual positions. But having sex while pregnant or while on your period can also cause your stomach to hurt after sex, even if usually you’ve been good to go—and these may resolve themselves once you’re no longer menstruating or expecting. On the other hand, some problems, like a sexually transmitted infection (STIs), or endometriosis, may need medical attention. Here are some of the most common reasons you might experience cramping after sex, and what to do for each potential cause. 1 The position you’re in caused a strained muscle
The simplest and most straightforward reason your stomach hurts after sex is if you were holding a challenging position during the act. This is essentially them same reason your lower abdominal muscles might be sore after a pilates class — you can experience soreness if you were using your abdominal muscles to keep your legs up over your head or hold yourself in a standing position.
What to do: A heating pad, some rest, a massage from your partner, and maybe a more relaxing position for round two.
2 Prostaglandins in semen have triggered uterine contractions Semen has prostaglandins in it, and they can cause uterine contractions, whether or not you’re pregnant. “If you’re having sex with a male partner who ejaculates, prostaglandins can stimulate contractions,” Dr. Maureen Whelihan, a board-certified OB-GYN, tells Romper via email. Cramping after sex caused by prostaglandins can feel similar to menstrual cramps.
What to do: The withdrawl method isn’t a recommended form of birth control, but it could be helpful for this problem. “If the male partner will withdrawal and ejaculate on the outside, that will likely help,” Whelihan explains.
3 A sexually transmitted infection can make your stomach hurt after sex
STIs, like chlamydia or gonorrhea, can lead to lower abdominal pain during and after sex.
A study of 291 women with chlamydia found that they had lower sexual satisfaction, and experienced pain during and after intercourse. Gonorrhea can lead to pelvic inflammatory syndrome, which can make sex painful both during and after.
What to do: Getting regularly screened for STIs is a great practice for any sexually active person, and is particularly important if you have cramping after sex that you suspect might be caused by one of these diseases. According to the CDC, both
chlamydia and gonorrhea can be effectively treated with antibiotics. These STIs are very common, and the faster you get treated, the faster you can enjoy pain-free sex. 4 Uterine fibroids are causing cramps after sex
Uterine fibroids are another common cause of cramping after sex. The National Institute of Health lists uterine fibroids as “
the most common non-cancerous tumor among women of childbearing age.” While the word “tumor” can be scary, uterine fibroids are usually nothing to worry about — except when they’re causing stomach pain or cramping after sex. Uterine fibroids may be particularly likely to cause cramping after sex when they’re near the cervix.
What to do: For some people, uterine fibroids can just be left alone — but if they’re interfering with your sex life, a procedure called uterine fibroid embolization might offer some relief. It’s definitely worth talking with your gynecologist about the pain you’re experiencing to see if this might be right for you.
5 A urinary tract infection is causing inflammation in your pelvic region
Anyone who has had a UTI knows that having one can make peeing extremely unpleasant, but it can also cause cramping after sex. A UTI can occur when bacteria gets into your urethra, and since sex can put pressure on your already-irritated urethra, you can experience pain if you have sex during and after a UTI.
What to do: If you think you may have a UTI, it’s a good idea to contact your health care provider so that they can help you make a treatment plan. Refraining from sex until your UTI is resolved is the best way to avoid this cause of discomfort — though if you feel like having sex while you have a UTI, there’s no medical reason not to. 6 Your uterus stays cramped after orgasm
It’s weird that something that causes so much pleasure can also cause pain, but orgasming can cause your stomach to hurt after sex for some sexually active people. “The contractions of the pelvic floor and pelvis can create cramping,” Whelihan explains — an unwelcome surprise if you’re coming down from an orgasm.
What to do: Whelihan suggests that her patients take Ibprofen (if you’re not pregnant) or Tylenol (if you are) about 30 minutes before sex, which can help make your orgasms pain-free. 7 You’re pregnant and experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions
getting busy while pregnant, it’s good to be aware that (sometimes) sexual activity can stimulate Braxton Hicks contractions, which are basically a trial-run that your uterus does for contractions before you go into real labor. Why? Because both orgasming and prostaglandins in semen can cause contractions. What to do: Usually, Braxton Hicks contractions resolve within a few hours. Try laying down, drinking a tall glass of cold water or taking a warm bath. If the contractions don’t stop, talk to your health care provider. 8 Endometriosis is causing pain or cramping after sex
Endometriosis is a serious condition in which the uterine lining grows outside of the uterus. Though it can cause terrible pain, people with endometriosis often have their pain dismissed and ignored. Endometriosis doesn’t mean that sex is off the table, but it can cause pain both during and after sex, and the lower abdominal pain can range from mild to severe.
What to do: The Endometriosis Foundation of America recommends that people suffering from endometriosis try being intimate with their partners at different times during their cycles — sometimes, the pain can be more intense at certain times of the month. If you think you may have endometriosis, definitely contact your health care provider.
Figuring out why you have stomach pain after sex might be a bit of a process, and may involve talking to a physician or other trusted health care provider. But, the best thing you can do is to find one you really like and trust, someone you feel comfortable talking to about the most intimate subjects. You deserve to have sex that’s pain free.
Sources interviewed: Dr. Maureen Whelihan, M.D., F.A.C.O.G., board-certified OB-GYN practicing in Florida Studies referenced: Cai T., Mondaini N., Migno S., Meacci F., Boddi V., Gontero P., Malossini G., Geppetti P., Mazzoli S., Bartoletti R., Genital Chlamydia trachomatis infection is related to poor sexual quality of life in young sexually active women Walker C.K., Sweet R.L., Gonorrhea infection in women: prevalence, effects, screening, and management