A swollen vulva after sex is sometimes a natural response to sexual arousal and can go away afterward. However, it can also be the result of an irritation, allergy, or infection.

Rough intercourse — whether you apply lubricants or not — can cause intense friction that might tear sensitive vaginal tissues. Swelling, itching, and burning are often the results.

Allergic Reaction

Many products that come into contact with the vagina and vulva can cause irritation and an allergic reaction. These include scented tampons and pads, synthetic panties, unhygienic razors, perfumed soaps, vaginal creams, and even certain types of fabric like lace. If you notice that the area swells up when you use any of these items, stop using them as soon as possible and see if the swelling resolves. You can also apply a cool compress to the area and take an antihistamine if needed, Dr. Greves suggests.

Another common cause for swollen vulva after sex is a yeast infection, or thrush. This is a fungal overgrowth that can affect the internal parts of the vulva and can feel painful during sexual activity and afterward, according to the Cleveland Clinic. If you suspect you have a yeast infection, you can get relief by taking oral or topical antibiotics.

If you are experiencing itchy post-coital genitalia, it could be because of friction from sex, a sensitivity or allergy to the lubricant you used, or a problem with latex condoms. Alternatively, it may be a normal sexual response to sex or pregnancy-related hormone changes that is causing the itchiness. Talk to your ob-gyn about what is causing the itchy sensations and how best to treat them. Your ob-gyn may recommend a different lubricant or suggest using a nonlatex condom for the time being.

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Rough Intercourse

Whether it’s rape, assault or just a little bit too rough in the bedroom, friction from physical intimacy can lead to pain, swollen skin and bleeding. Rough intercourse may include vigorous thrusting, or sexual activity that puts pressure on the vulva and cervix. This type of sex can be a lot of fun, but it’s important to take proper precautions to ensure that your body doesn’t become damaged.

Vaginal swelling after sex could also be the result of a sexually transmitted infection like herpes. Herpes is spread by skin-to-skin contact and can cause painful blisters in the genital area. The blisters are caused by the herpes virus and can occur during vaginal, oral or anal sex, even kissing.

In some cases, a swollen vagina can be the result of a chemical reaction to lubricant or sexual products used during sex. If you suspect this is the case, it’s best to check with your gynecologist or dermatologist.

Some people feel that rough play is a great way to deepen a romantic connection and explore new boundaries. But if your partner isn’t into it, is sensitive or has an injury from previous rough sex, this may not be the right type of intimacy for you. It’s best to discuss this with your partner and come up with a safe word for when either of you wants to stop or slow down. With clear communication and appropriate precautions, rough sex can be a fun and exciting way to spice up your relationship.

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Yeast Infection

Yeast are bacteria that normally live in the mucous membrane lining your vulva, but an overgrowth of yeast can cause a vaginal infection. Yeast infections often lead to a whitish-yellowish vaginal discharge with the texture of cottage cheese. Other symptoms include pain during sex and a burning sensation when you pee. If you think you have a yeast infection, talk to your doctor, who can prescribe powerful, fast-acting anti-fungal medications.

Having vaginal swelling after sex could also be caused by an allergic reaction to something used during sexual intercourse, such as lubricant, condoms or tampons made from latex. Using non-latex and unscented lubricant, or switching to a different type of tampon or condom, can help avoid this type of allergy.

If your swollen vulva is due to irritation, try not to scratch. Scratching can spread germs and cause more inflammation. Instead, gently apply an over-the-counter itch cream to the area.

A swollen vulva is not always serious, but it’s best to speak with your gynecologist about any issues that arise. It’s also a good idea to schedule an appointment with your gynecologist to get checked for signs of sexually transmitted diseases and conditions that can affect vulva health, such as genital herpes or uterine fibroids. The more your gynecologist knows about your symptoms and sexual history, the better they can provide treatment for you.

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Irritation

Rough intercourse, whether you used lubricants or not, can tear and irritate sensitive vulva tissue. This can lead to a painful swelling of the clit and vulva, as well as a yeast infection known as thrush. Rough sex also can cause an STI, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea.

In addition to using a gentle cleanser for your genitals, you should avoid irritants like perfumed soap, fragranced bath products, and toilet paper. It’s also a good idea to wash your genitals from front to back in the shower, rather than putting water right into your vulva canal, to avoid spreading fecal germs.

If you are itchy after sex, it may be because of friction from rough intercourse or a sensitivity or allergy to the lube or condom you used, Minkin says. However, if itching continues for more than a day or two, that’s a red flag that it’s time to call the doctor.

Itchy post-sex pain usually subsides within a few hours, or at least should if you weren’t rubbing sex toys in the area that caused it. But if it’s persistent or painful, consider changing to a hypoallergenic lubricant or nonlatex condoms and see what happens. If the pain is worse or you have other symptoms, such as a fever or painful urination, see your ob-gyn.