What are the Causes and How to Treat Cramping After Sex?

cramping after sex
Medically reviewed by Dr. Marsha Dunkely

Overview

The pleasure of sex is complex and based on individual experience involving physical, emotional, and psychological factors. Most of the time, the conversation centers on the enjoyment of sex. The downside of sex-related pain or cramps is discussed less frequently, which can significantly reduce pleasure. 

Cramping after sex is a common experience for many people, particularly females. These cramps can range from mild discomfort to more severe pain and can be caused by various factors, including uterine contractions, orgasms, endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, and more. In most cases, these cramps are nothing to be concerned about and will resolve with time. 

What is Cramping After Sex?

A cramp is a sudden, involuntary contraction or spasm of a muscle. This cramping can cause a sharp or dull pain lasting for several seconds or minutes. Cramps can occur in any body muscle but are most commonly experienced in the legs, feet, and hands.

After sex, cramps can happen to both men and women. Muscle cramps following sex can have many potential reasons, from sudden issues like muscular strain to long-term illnesses.

 Some common causes of muscle cramps include dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, muscle fatigue, poor circulation, nerve damage, and certain medical conditions such as diabetes or kidney disease. Stretching and massaging the affected muscle, applying heat or cold, and taking over-the-counter pain relievers can help relieve cramps.

Consult our Doctors If you are Experiencing Abdominal Pain after Sex.

Normal vs. Abnormal Cramping After Sex

Cramping after sex can be normal or abnormal depending on the severity, duration, and accompanying symptoms. Mild cramping that lasts for a short period and does not interfere with daily activities or sexual function is usually considered normal. This type of cramping may be caused by the contraction of the uterus or other pelvic muscles during orgasm and is often more common in women who have not had regular sexual activity.

Abnormal cramping after sex, on the other hand, may be more severe and persistent and may be accompanied by other symptoms such as vaginal bleeding, discharge, pain during sex, fever, or chills. Abnormal cramping may indicate an underlying medical condition such as an infection, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids, or pelvic inflammatory disease. The causes are discussed in detail below.

Causes of Cramping After Sex in Men

It can be strange to have discomfort after sexual contact because sex typically feels lovely. 

For some guys, the pain might cause performance anxiety and reduce their desire and enjoyment during sex. There are several possible causes of cramping after sex in men, including

Prostate issues

Prostatitis can cause pain after sex in men due to the inflammation and infection of the prostate gland. The prostate gland plays a role in the production of semen.

When the prostate gland becomes inflamed or infected, it can become tender and painful to the touch. During sexual activity, stimulation or manipulation of the prostate gland can cause pain or discomfort if it is inflamed or infected.

It can also cause pelvic pain or discomfort, which can also be increased by sexual activity. Men with prostatitis may experience pain or discomfort during or after ejaculation, accompanied by other symptoms such as urinary urgency, frequency, difficulty, and pain or discomfort in the lower back, groin, or genital area.

The treatment involves antibiotics to treat bacterial infections, alpha-blockers to relax the muscles around the prostate gland, pain relief medication, or physical therapy to relax the pelvic floor muscles.

Penile curvature or Peyronie’s disease

Curved, painful erections may result from fibrous scar tissue on the penis. Erectile dysfunction, tension, anxiety, and even penile shortening might result from this. Peyronie’s is a common, non-cancerous disorder that can be treated with NSAIDs, injections that dissolve the scar tissue after the discomfort has subsided, or even surgery if erectile dysfunction is present.

Penile Fracture

The rubbery tissue sheath that lies behind the skin of the penis, known as the tunica albuginea, permits the penis to enlarge in both width and length during erection. This tissue can occasionally rupture or tear, leading to pain after intercourse and necessitating a trip to the emergency department and probably surgery. 

Tight foreskin 

The tissue known as the foreskin covers the head of the penis in people who have not undergone circumcision. During sexual contact, this tissue typically retracts. But, if your foreskin is too tight, also known as phimosis, the foreskin cannot retract because the skin is too close, which hurts. It may rip, swell, or turn infected over time due to the friction of this action. If the pain continues, treatment options include steroid cream or circumcision.

Undescended testicle 

Although it’s a rare cause of sex-related pain, it occasionally arises. The testicles descend from the abdominal region into the scrotum in the final weeks before or shortly after birth.  

If the testicle is lodged in the lower abdomen or groin during descent or does not descend, it may cause a squeezing sensation during or after intercourse. Surgery is the most frequent form of therapy, typically involving testicle removal.

Hernias in the groin

These are caused if tissue pushes through a weak place in the muscular wall that should have been closed at birth, typically between your lower abdomen and thigh. 

The most typical symptom is a lump or protrusion that enters the weak point. Hernias can result in groin pain, especially during strenuous activities like sexual activity.

Sexual infections 

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can cause cramping after sex in males for several reasons. STIs can cause inflammation in the reproductive system leading to cramping or discomfort after sex. This inflammation can be caused by infections such as chlamydia and gonorrhea. Additionally, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), a condition of the female reproductive system, can sometimes occur in males, causing pain and cramping in the lower abdomen after sex. Genital herpes can also cause pain, itching, and cramping in the genital area, especially during and after outbreaks.

Ejaculatory duct obstruction

This is a blockage in the tubes that carry semen from the testicles to the urethra, which can cause cramping and discomfort after ejaculation.

Testicular torsion: 

When the testis rotates and twists on its blood supply, causing a sudden and severe pain in the scrotum is known as testicular torsion. In some cases, this can be triggered by physical trauma to the scrotum, such as during sexual activity. This trauma can cause the testicle to rotate and twist, cutting off its blood supply and causing severe pain associated with testicular torsion.

Pelvic floor muscle spasms: 

The pelvic floor muscles help control urination and bowel movements and can also become tense or spasm after sex, causing cramping after ejaculation.

Hypospadias repair:

If a man has had surgery to repair hypospadias (a congenital condition where the urethra is not in the correct position), he may experience cramping or discomfort after sex.

Medication side effects: 

Males may experience cramps after intercourse as a side effect of several drugs. For instance, while engaging in physical activity, including sexual activity, some medications used to treat high blood pressure, such as beta-blockers, might produce cramping in the legs or other body areas. 

Other drugs, including antidepressants and antipsychotics, can also adversely affect sexual function, such as decreased libido, trouble getting or keeping an erection, and delayed ejaculation. These post-sex side effects might occasionally cause discomfort or cramps.

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Causes of Cramping After Sex in Women

If you are a woman experiencing cramping and nausea after sex, there may be various factors, including.

Deep penetration 

Intimate deep penetration during sex can occasionally make women cramp. This is due to the possibility of the cervix being hit or bumped during deep penetration, which could cause pain or discomfort. 

Moreover, this stimulation may cause the uterus to contract, resulting in cramping. Deep penetration may occasionally worsen underlying problems like endometriosis or pelvic inflammatory disease, resulting in cramps. 

Some people may need to modify the depth or angle of penetration or utilize positions that put the least amount of pressure possible on the cervix to avoid cramping during sex. 

It is crucial to discuss your comfort level with your partner.

Vaginal dryness 

The vagina typically produces natural lubrication during sexual stimulation; however, occasionally, this may not be enough or occur at all. Menopause, hormonal changes, drugs, or specific medical conditions are just a few causes. 

Without enough lubrication, having intercourse can be difficult or painful and may leave you feeling sore or cramped. Utilizing water-based or silicone-based lubricants during intercourse might lessen discomfort and avoid vaginal dryness.

Uterine contractions or Orgasms

During orgasm, the uterus may contract rhythmically, causing cramping or discomfort in some women. These contractions are a normal part of the sexual response and usually subside quickly. However, in some cases, uterine contractions may be more intense or prolonged, leading to more significant pain or cramping.

Gynecological Causes of Discomfort or Pain after Intercourse

Tilted or retroverted uterus

Some women’s uteruses lean backward rather than forward. A retroverted uterus is a medical term for this condition. When having sex with someone with a retroverted uterus, the penis may press against the uterus, resulting in cramps.

Vaginismus

When someone tries to introduce something into the vaginal canal, the vaginal muscles will frequently contract uncontrollably. It can occur during invasive intercourse, vaginal exams when a person tries to insert a tampon and other situations.

Vaginismus can be upsetting, but it does not necessarily prevent someone from becoming aroused and enjoying other sexual pleasure. A sex therapist may be necessary to help people control their anxiety and offer relaxing techniques. Exercises for the pelvic floor may also help to alleviate vaginismus.

Ovulation

One of the ovaries develops a follicle each month that houses a developing egg. That follicle bursts around two weeks before a woman’s menstruation, releasing the egg for potential fertilization and conception. Some people get abdominal cramps after having sex at this time.

Endometriosis

This is when the uterine lining tissue spreads to other body parts, such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or other pelvic organs. 

This may result in cramps or lower abdominal pain after sex, severe menstrual bleeding, and other symptoms such as pain and discomfort during intercourse. Endometriosis is a chronic medical condition that can be treated medically, surgically, or with hormone therapy.

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

It is a bacterial infective disease of the reproductive organs frequently brought on by sex. This infection can cause pain and cramping during sex, as well as other symptoms such as fever, vaginal discharge, and irregular periods. Some people may experience bloating after sex or stomach pain after intercourse if they suffer from PID. This condition can also lead to diarrhea after sex. If left untreated, PID can lead to severe complications, including infertility and chronic pelvic pain.

Fibroids

Noncancerous growths called fibroids can form in the uterus. Most women with fibroids do not have symptoms, even though they are widespread. 

However, fibroids occasionally result in additional symptoms like heavy menstrual bleeding, pain and discomfort during sex, and other symptoms. Medication, surgery, and other procedures are all possible forms of treatment for fibroids.

Ovarian cysts

In the ovaries, fluid-filled sacs called ovarian cysts can develop. They are also extremely typical, and most cysts do not produce symptoms. 

As well as other symptoms, including bloating after sex, nausea, and irregular periods, cysts can occasionally cause pain and discomfort during sex. The size, type, and other characteristics of the cyst, as well as your age and general health, will all affect how you are treated for ovarian cysts.

Experiencing Discomfort and Pain after Sex. Consult one of our Doctors and Find out the Cause

Non-Gynecological Causes of Cramping After Sex

Allergic reaction

In rare cases, some people may experience an allergic reaction to semen, lubricants, or other products used during sex. This can cause stomach pain, discomfort, and other symptoms such as itching, hives, or difficulty breathing.

Anxiety or stress:

Emotional stress or anxiety can cause physical symptoms, including muscle cramps.

Digestive problems

Cramps in the lower abdomen might result from digestive problems such as gas or constipation after intercourse. Gas might result from ingested air or the colon’s breakdown of undigested food. Contrarily, constipation is a condition in which passing stools becomes challenging. Constipation and gas can result in stomach pain and discomfort, which can be made worse by the physical act of sex. Maintaining a balanced diet, drinking enough water, and frequently exercising is crucial to prevent or manage these problems.

Bladder problems

Bladder issues might also bring on cramps after intercourse. A common bladder condition called a urinary tract infection (UTI) can result in cramps, pain, and discomfort during and after sex. 

When bacteria infect the urinary tract, it results in a UTI. Cramping after sex can also be brought on by other bladder conditions, such as interstitial cystitis or bladder inflammation.

Overexertion

If you have engaged in vigorous sex or had sex for an extended period, you may experience cramping due to overexertion of your muscles.

Dehydration

can cause muscle cramping; if you are not adequately hydrated during sex, you may experience cramping afterward.

Duration and Severity of Cramps

The duration and severity can vary for various reasons. When muscle tension or dehydration is the origin of the cramps, they are often minor and transient, lasting only a few minutes to a few hours after intercourse. In these circumstances, the cramping is frequently relieved by rest, drinking, or light stretching.

If a bladder problem, such as an infection or interstitial cystitis, is the source of the cramping, it may be more severe and linger for several hours or even days. 

There may also be additional symptoms, such as painful urination or blood in the urine.

Other gynecological diseases such as endometriosis, ovarian cysts, and others can also result in severe and persistent post-sex cramping. 

In some situations, the cramping may also be accompanied by additional symptoms, including unpleasant bowel motions, pelvic pain, or excessive menstrual flow.

OrgasmShort-lived, a few minutes
EndometriosisSeveral hours to days
Ovarian CystsFew hours to days
Early PregnancyFew hours to days
Consult our Doctors If you are Experiencing Cramping after Sex that is Severe and Lasts for an Extended Period.

Diagnosis of Reasons for Cramping After Sex

Diagnosis of the reasons for cramping after sex involves a combination of a physical exam, medical history, and any additional tests that may be necessary. Here are some of the steps that may be interesting in the diagnosis process:

Medical History

A medical history is essential in diagnosing the reasons for cramping after sex. The healthcare provider can make a preliminary diagnosis or recommend further testing or evaluation based on your medical history. It is essential, to be honest and open about your medical history and any symptoms you are experiencing to help ensure an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Here are some of the questions that you may be asked during a medical history:

Symptoms,

Questions about symptoms you are experiencing, such as the location and severity of the pain, how long it lasts, and whether it occurs during or after sex—any past surgeries, conditions, or medications you are taking. You may also be asked about your menstrual cycle and any symptoms you experience during your period.

Sexual history

This includes the number of sexual partners you have had, whether you use protection, and whether you have ever had a sexually transmitted infection.

Family history

It is essential, particularly if you have an account of conditions like endometriosis or ovarian cysts.

Lifestyle factors

These factors include diet, exercise habits, and stress levels.

Other symptoms

These may include nausea, vomiting, fever, or vaginal discharge.

Physical Exam

A physical exam is another essential part of diagnosing the reasons for cramping after sex. During the physical exam, the doctor may also ask you to describe any pain or discomfort you are experiencing and may apply pressure to specific areas to determine the location and severity of the pain. The healthcare provider can make a preliminary diagnosis or recommend further testing or evaluation based on the physical exam results.

Here are some things that a healthcare provider may look for during a physical exam: 

The pelvic exam

The doctor may perform a pelvic exam to check for any signs of inflammation or abnormalities in the reproductive organs. During this exam, they will use a speculum to examine the vagina and cervix and may use their fingers to feel for any lumps, tenderness, or swelling in the pelvis.

Abdominal exam

It is done to check for any tenderness or swelling in the abdomen.

Rectal exam

Sometimes, the doctor may perform a rectal exam to check for abnormalities in the rectum or prostate.

External exam

The doctor may also examine the external genitalia for any signs of inflammation, irritation, or infection.

Neurological exam

In rare cases, the healthcare provider may perform a neurological exam to check for any nerve damage causing the cramping.

Diagnostic Tests

Diagnostic tests are another essential part of diagnosing the reasons for cramping after sex. The type of test or tests recommended will depend on the doctor’s preliminary diagnosis and the specific symptoms you are experiencing. 

Here are some of the tests that a healthcare provider may order:

Blood tests

Blood investigations can help diagnose infections or other medical conditions that may be causing the cramping. For example, blood tests can detect the presence of antibodies to sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia and gonorrhea.

Urine tests

This help diagnoses infections or other medical conditions that may be causing the cramping.

Imaging tests

Ultrasound or MRI can help diagnose conditions like ovarian cysts or endometriosis. These tests can provide detailed images of the reproductive organs and any abnormalities that may be present.

Laparoscopy

A laparoscopy lets a physician see the reproductive organs and identify diseases like endometriosis or ovarian cysts. During this process, a tiny camera is placed into the abdomen via a small incision.

Cultures

Any vaginal discharge or tissue samples may be cultured to identify bacteria or other microorganisms causing the cramping.

Hysteroscopy

If the doctor suspects the cramping is related to uterine problems, they may perform a hysteroscopy. This is a procedure where a tiny camera is inserted through the cervix to visualize the inside of the uterus.

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Treatment of Cramping After Sex

The treatment for cramping after sex will depend on the underlying cause. Here are some common treatments for cramping after sex:

Infections

If the cramping is due to bacterial infections like chlamydia or gonorrhea, the healthcare provider will prescribe antibiotics to clear the infection. Your doctor may prescribe Antiviral medications if a virus like herpes causes the condition.

Endometriosis

The endometrial tissue may be recommended if the cramping is due to endometriosis,  pain medication, hormone therapy, or surgery to remove it.

Ovarian cysts

If ovarian cysts cause cramping pain, medication or surgery to remove the cysts may be helpful.

Uterine fibroids

Antispasmodics, hormone therapy, or surgery to remove the fibroids may be offered.

Vaginismus

Therapy helps relax the vaginal muscles and reduce pain during sex.

Pelvic inflammatory disease

If the cramping is caused by pelvic inflammatory disease, the healthcare provider will prescribe antibiotics to clear the infection and may recommend pain medication to help manage the symptoms.

Self-Care and Home Remedies

Self-care and home remedies can help manage cramping after sex and should not be used as a substitute for medical treatment. There are some self-care and home remedies that can help to manage cramping after sex. Here are a few suggestions:

Rest

It’s essential to rest and allow the body time to heal after experiencing cramping after sex. Avoid engaging in sexual activity until the cramping has resolved.

Heat therapy

Cramping can be eased by applying heat to the pelvic or lower abdomen. You can take a warm bath, a heating pad, or a hot water bottle.

Over-the-counter pain relievers

Both available over-the-counter, Ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can ease cramping and lessen inflammation.

Hydration

Staying hydrated can help reduce cramping and promote overall reproductive health. Drink plenty of water throughout the day.

Exercise

Regular exercise can help improve reproductive health and reduce cramping. Try low-impact activities like yoga, walking, or swimming.

Stress reduction

Stress can exacerbate cramping and other reproductive health issues—practice stress reduction techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or yoga.

Medical Treatments

These include the following. It should always be remembered that no medication should be taken without prior consultation with a specialist.

Antibiotics

If the cramping is due to a bacterial infection such as chlamydia or gonorrhea, antibiotics may be prescribed to clear the infection.

Antiviral medication

If the cramping is due to a viral infection such as herpes, antiviral medication may be prescribed to help manage symptoms.

Hormone therapy

If hormonal imbalances cause cramping, hormone therapy may be recommended to help regulate hormone levels and reduce symptoms.

Pain relievers

Over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers may be recommended to help manage pain and discomfort associated with cramping after sex.

Surgery

Surgery may sometimes be recommended to treat underlying conditions such as endometriosis, ovarian cysts, or uterine fibroids.

Physical therapy

Physiotherapy may be recommended for conditions such as vaginismus or pelvic floor muscle dysfunction to help relax the muscles and reduce pain during sex.

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Prevention of Cramping After Sex

Various factors, such as dehydration, overexertion, or pelvic floor muscle fatigue, can cause it. Here are some tips to help prevent cramping after sex:

Pre-Sex Preparation:

  • Hydrate: Keep well hydrated before and after sex to stay hydrated.
  • Stretching: Gentle stretching before sex can help prevent muscle cramps. Pay particular attention to stretching your hips, thighs, and lower back muscles.
  • Relaxation techniques: Deep breathing, meditation, or yoga before sex can help reduce muscle tension and cramps.

Sexual Practices:

  • Positioning: Try different positions to find comfortable ones for you and your partner. Avoid positions that put too much strain on your pelvic muscles.
  • Foreplay: Engage in plenty of foreplay to increase arousal and blood flow to your pelvic area. This can help reduce muscle tension and cramps.
  • Lubrication: Use water-based lubricants to reduce friction and prevent irritation, which can lead to muscle cramps.
  • Pace: Take breaks if you feel tired or experience discomfort. Don’t push yourself too hard; listen to your body’s signals.

In summary, staying hydrated, stretching, practicing relaxation techniques, using comfortable sexual positions, engaging in foreplay, using lubrication, and pacing yourself during sex can help prevent cramping after sex.

When to Seek Medical Attention?

If you experience cramping after sex that is severe or persistent, or if it is accompanied by other symptoms such as vaginal bleeding, fever, chills, or nausea, consult a doctor immediately. These symptoms could indicate a more serious underlying condition that requires prompt evaluation and treatment.

Additionally, if you have a history of gynecological conditions such as endometriosis, ovarian cysts, or pelvic inflammatory disease, and you experience cramping after sex, or if you are pregnant and experience cramping after sex, it is also essential to talk to a medical specialist to determine the underlying cause and ensure that your Pregnancy is progressing normally. 

Severe or persistent cramping during Pregnancy could indicate a more serious complication, such as preterm labor or miscarriage, and requires prompt evaluation and treatment.

In general, it is essential to listen to your body and seek medical attention if you experience any concerning symptoms after sex.

FAQs about Cramping after Sex Answered by Your Doctors Online Team

Why does my stomach hurt after sex?

A variety of factors can cause stomach pain after sex. Endometriosis, where the uterine lining tissue spreads to other organs, can cause pain during sex. Orgasms can also cause discomfort or cramping in the lower abdomen due to the contractions of the pelvic area muscles. Ovarian cysts, although usually painless, can rupture during sexual activity, causing pain in the lower abdomen. Pelvic inflammatory disease, an infection of the reproductive organs, and irritable bowel syndrome, a digestive condition affecting the large intestine, can cause stomach pain during or after sex.

Cramps after ejaculating inside. Am I pregnant?

Cramping after ejaculating inside does not necessarily indicate Pregnancy. There are many other reasons why you may experience cramping after sexual activity, including muscle strain, dehydration, bladder issues, intestinal issues, and gynecological conditions such as endometriosis or ovarian cysts.

However, if you have unprotected sex and are experiencing cramping, Pregnancy is possible. Cramping can be the first of many signs of Pregnancy as the fertilized egg attaches to the uterine lining. Other early signs of Pregnancy include missed periods, fatigue, nausea, and breast tenderness.

If you suspect, you may be pregnant, taking a pregnancy test to confirm is essential.

Does sex help with period cramps?

Sex can relieve cramps during their period for some women. Endorphins are released during sexual activity, which can temporarily relieve pain and induce relaxation. This may lessen the intensity of menstrual cramps. The uterus may also contract during an orgasm, speeding up the flow of menstrual blood and lessening cramping. 

Sex does not permanently relieve period cramps, and in some instances, it may even aggravate them for some people. Pay attention to your body’s signals and follow whatever makes you feel most comfortable.

Does Pregnancy play a role in cramps after sex?

Yes, Pregnancy can contribute to post-sex cramps. Many physical changes during Pregnancy may make sex uncomfortable or result in cramps. It can become more sensitive and painful as the uterus grows and the ligaments strain to make room for the developing fetus. 

Sexual activity may become painful or produce minor cramping as a result. Mild cramping after intercourse can also be brought on by increased blood flow to the pelvic area during Pregnancy.

It is crucial to remember that pregnancy cramps can also indicate graver issues, including preterm labor, infection, or miscarriage.

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