Experiencing pelvic pain before, during, or after sex can be tough to handle and may affect your sex life to a great extent or even put you off from having sex. If your pain is severe or occurs frequently, it may be a serious underlying condition that needs medical attention. Visit Downtown Vein & Vascular Center to find out more about pelvic cramping, why it occurs, and what you can do to prevent it. Dr. Sergei A. Sobolevsky figures out how pelvic pain symptoms are affecting your quality of life and uses advanced diagnostic tools to identify the source of your pain. He also recommends the best treatments that relieve your recurring pain and help you get back to a healthy and pain-free sex life.
Pelvic cramps are discomfort and pain you may feel in the lower abdominal area of the body. Most women experience these cramps due to various conditions related to the reproductive system, digestive system, urinary system, or musculoskeletal system. Pelvic cramping after sex is not a cause for concern if it does not last long or causes severe discomfort. However, for some women, these cramps can disrupt their love lives or even everyday life and need medical attention.
This pain may also move to other parts of the body, including the lower back, buttocks, and thighs, depending on the cause or source of the pain.
Read on for detailed information on common causes of pelvic pain after sex, what are its possible causes, and how it can be accurately diagnosed and treated.
Dysmenorrhea – A Common Cause of Pelvic Pain
If you are experiencing pelvic pain after sex, it may be a sign of dysmenorrhea, a common condition that causes extremely painful throbbing or cramping pains in the lower abdomen. Many cases of dysmenorrhea go undiagnosed since many women are unaware they may be suffering from it.
Dysmenorrhea is often associated with significant psychological, physical, and emotional impacts. If you continue to experience pelvic pain after sex, there may be a more serious issue within your organs.
Causes of Dysmenorrhea
Menstrual cramps happen when a hormone, called prostaglandin, makes the uterus contract or tighten up. The uterus is a muscular organ, and the release of prostaglandin causes major contractions within the uterus when the lining is shedding, throughout the menstrual cycle.
During menstruation, the uterus contracts more strongly due to the amount of prostaglandin released. If the uterus contracts too strongly, it can press against nearby blood vessels, cutting off the supply of oxygen to muscle tissue. You feel pain when part of the muscle briefly loses its supply of oxygen.
Dysmenorrhea is also associated with medical conditions such as endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), uterine fibroids, or certain infections, which are also causes of pain after sex.
Read more: 13 ways to stop period cramps
Dysmenorrhea caused by Pelvic Congestion Syndrome
Pelvic Congestion Syndrome occurs when varicose veins develop around the ovaries, similar to varicose veins that occur in the legs. Patients with varicose veins high up in the thighs, groin, vulvar region, and the back of the thighs have a higher chance of having Pelvic Congestion Syndrome (PCS).
Pelvic veins can stretch during pregnancy and birth. These enlarged veins have valves that don’t function properly causing pelvic pain and dysmenorrhea. In most cases, varicose veins improve in the months after delivery. However, at times the dilated veins persist, both in the legs and the pelvis, even after delivery. Pelvic congestion syndrome may be the reason you experience pelvic cramps after sex.
It is best to visit your healthcare provider if you experience pain in the pelvis every time you have sex for accurate diagnosis and treatment of your condition.
Signs and Symptoms of Dysmenorrhea
If there is no evidence of any other disorder or disease that could be causing pain after sex, dysmenorrhea is most likely the reason for your uncomfortable symptoms.
Common signs and symptoms of dysmenorrhea
Symptoms of menstrual cramps include:
- Throbbing or cramping pain in the lower abdomen that can be intense
- Pain that starts 1 to 3 days before the period, peaks 24 hours after the onset of the period, and subsides in 2 to 3 days
- Dull, continuous ache
- Pain that radiates to the lower back and upper thighs
Some women also experience
- Loose stools
About 16 to 29% of women experience dysmenorrhea which disturbs their routine life and activities. It can worsen and cause severe pain if you do not take timely measures. Get it checked out by a specialist so that your body can enjoy sex without suffering intense pain.
How Pelvic Pain Is Determined?
If you experience abnormal pain after sex or have any of the symptoms of dysmenorrhea, your doctor may recommend a chronic pelvic pain evaluation to find out more about your pain and discomfort.
He will evaluate your conditions with the help of the following:
Your Menstrual History
Your menstrual cycle can provide a lot of information regarding your chemical balance and symptoms. If your cycle is irregular, painful, and heavy, your chances of having endometriosis or fibroids may be higher. Painful periods with symptoms like nausea, vomiting, headaches, and fatigue may point towards dysmenorrhea as the potential cause of your pelvic pain.
Timing of Pain
The times when your pain occurs indicate if it is pelvic cramping or something else. If you experience pain every time or mostly after sexual intercourse, it may be due to conditions like endometriosis.
Characteristics and Severity of Pain
Factors like your level of pain, the location where it hurts most, and the progression of pain, help in determining if your pelvic pain is resulting from some medical condition. The doctor will ask you multiple questions regarding pain when you are menstruating, where and when in the body it occurs, how long it lasts, and most importantly, how severe it is.
If you have an active sex life, experiencing pain every time you have sex can be very uncomfortable and irritating. However, your symptoms could also be a sign of STIs or UTIs that occur when you are sexually active.
Past Medical History
Sometimes pelvic pain may result from any of your past medical conditions acting up again. If you are prone to or have a medical issue like endometriosis or vaginismus, it may be a reason behind chronic pelvic pain.
If you have received any treatments or been through any procedure in the past, they could be causing pelvic pain. Tell your doctor if you had any condition or abnormality for which you received treatment to help with diagnosis.
Pelvic pain can lead to uncomfortable symptoms. In such cases, a physical examination becomes necessary. Your doctor may ask for ultrasounds, imaging scans, or even invasive procedures to evaluate your condition accurately.
When to see a doctor for pelvic cramping after sex
Cramping during or after sex can get better on its own if it is not serious. However, if it does not improve or worsen, reaching out to a doctor may be the best option.
Call your doctor if your pain is severe, happens all the time, or is accompanied by other symptoms, such as bleeding, fever, discharge, or other signs of an infection.
Diagnosing chronic pelvic pain
There are several ways through which your doctor can determine if dysmenorrhea is the main reason behind your pelvic pain.
He will evaluate your symptoms and pain with the help of your medical history, laparoscopy, a procedure that helps to look at the internal tissues and structures in your pelvis and abdomen, and imaging tests such as ultrasounds, CT, or MRI scans. Your doctor will determine the best course of treatment after finding out the causes of your pelvic pain.
Learn available treatments our experienced fibroid specialist in Brooklyn offer:
- Advanced fibroid pain management
- Treatment of frequent urge to pee caused by fibroids
- Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE)
- Uterine fibroid surgery
Sex is something you should enjoy and not dread. If you continue to experience cramping after sex, visit Downtown Vein & Vascular Center to learn about the possible causes of your discomfort. Identifying symptoms and coming up with an accurate diagnosis is essential for treating your pain and ensuring it does not affect your love life. Dr. Sergei A. Sobolevsky focuses on figuring out your condition and eliminating pain so that you can get you back to enjoying life again.
Sergei Sobolevsky, MD, is a leading specialist in endovascular medicine with experience in vascular and interventional radiology. Dr. Sobolevsky has decades of experience in the field, with over 25,000 procedures performed, accumulating extensive experience in image-guided minimally invasive medicine, diagnosing and treating a range of conditions.
Dr. Sobolevsky earned his Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree in 1997 from the University of Colorado School of Medicine. He received his specialty clinical training in vascular and interventional radiology at Harvard University. Later, he earned his MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management. Recognized as a Castle Connolly Top Doctor and named to the Top Doctors New York Metro Area in 2020, 2021, and 2022, Dr. Sobolevsky is licensed in multiple states, has delivered presentations at numerous institutions in the US and abroad, and now acts as a clinical advisor for the biomedical industry. He also held multiple positions in the field during his career, including Chief of Vascular and Interventional Radiology at the Columbia University Medical Center in New York, NY, Senior Vice President in Clinical and Regulatory Affairs at Artann Laboratories in North Brunswick, NJ, and Medical Director at the American Endovascular and Amputation Prevention Center in Brooklyn.More About Dr. Sobolevsky