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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.
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.
As long as you don’t have a high-risk pregnancy, it’s safe and healthy to have sex up until your water breaks. You can’t harm your unborn baby by having sex while they’re in your body. However, your doctor may advise against you having sex if you’ve experienced:
- abdominal pain or cramps
- broken water
- a history of cervical weakness
- genital herpes
- a low-lying placenta
Pregnant women often experience cramping after sex. That’s because orgasms can set off contractions in the womb, which lead to cramps. This is especially common when a woman is in her third trimester of pregnancy. Relaxing for a few minutes can allow the cramping to ease.
Many women experience pain during menstruation (dysmenorrhea). Commonly, this pain occurs as cramping in the abdomen. It usually starts one to two days into menstruation, and can last from 12 to 72 hours.
Cramping can also occur during ovulation when a woman’s egg drops from her fallopian tube into her uterus. Pain during the menstrual cycle is caused by contractions in a woman’s uterus.
During sex, period pain may actually be alleviated to some degree. However, the pressure sex puts on the cervix may cause pain afterwards. Ovulating and menstruating women are more likely to experience cramping after sex. Orgasms can also set off contractions that cause cramping in the abdomen.
Cramps after sex can have many causes. Luckily, the causes are usually not a major cause for concern. But that doesn’t make cramping after sex any less painful or unpleasant.
One effective treatment for cramping after sex is pain-relieving medication. Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers can lessen cramping by relaxing the abdominal muscles. These include:
- ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin IB)
- naproxen sodium (Aleve)
- acetaminophen (Tylenol)
Applying heat to your abdomen can also help reduce abdominal cramping. You can do this with:
- a hot bath
- heating pad
- hot water bottle
- heat patch
Heat works by increasing blood flow or circulation to the cramped area, relieving pain.
You may want to try adding supplements to your diet, such as:
These supplements can help ease tension in the muscles, lessening cramping and pain.
Practice relaxation techniques
Sex is a pleasurable experience, but orgasm can cause tension in the body. If you experience cramping after sex, relaxation techniques can sometimes help ease pain. Stretching, yoga, deep breathing, and meditation can be effective.
If you experience cramps after sex and you also drink and smoke, you might want to reconsider your habits. Drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco can often make cramping worse.
Frequent sex during pregnancy can sometimes lead to urinary tract infections (UTIs), especially if you’re prone to them. UTIs can cause pregnancy complications if you don’t seek treatment. You may have a UTI if you’ve been experiencing:
- abdominal cramping
- a persistent urge to urinate
- a burning sensation when urinating
- cloudy urine
- reddish urine
- strong-smelling urine
In this case you should seek medical treatment. You can prevent a UTI by emptying your bladder after sex.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
Some STIs can cause abdominal cramping, including:
You may notice this cramping is more severe after sex. Often, STIs are accompanied by other symptoms, and being familiar with those symptoms can help you determine whether or not you have an STI.
Usually cramping after sex during menstruation isn’t a cause for concern. But in some cases, period pain can be a sign of a medical problem. If your menstrual pain begins earlier in your cycle and lasts longer, the cramping may be caused by a reproductive disorder, such as:
See your doctor if you’re experiencing severe or long-lasting menstrual cramps or cramps after sex. They’ll screen you for various medical issues that could be causing them.
Normally, cramping after sex isn’t a cause for concern. And often this pain can be alleviated with a little attention, whether it’s OTC medication or relaxation techniques.
However, if cramping after sex is totally disrupting your love life, or even your everyday life, you should promptly see a doctor. They’ll be able to tell you exactly what’s causing the pain you experience after intercourse.
If you begin experiencing cramping after sex, keep a journal of your symptoms that you can later show to your doctor. Be sure to make note of:
- the severity of your cramps when they first started
- the dates of your last two menstrual periods
- the timing of your pregnancy, if applicable
- information about any reproductive or sexual problems you’ve had
- information about any medications or dietary supplements you take