Top 10 Vaginal Pain Causes and Treatment Relief Options

Understand your vaginal pain symptoms, including 5 causes & treatment options for your vaginal pain.

Vaginal Pain Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your vaginal pain

Contents

  1. Symptoms
  2. Causes
  3. 5 Possible Vaginal Pain Conditions
  4. Treatments and Relief
  5. Real-Life Stories
  6. Questions Your Doctor May Ask
  7. Statistics
  8. Related Articles
  9. References

Vaginal Pain Symptoms

Vaginal pain can be due to a variety of causes. Something as simple as irritation from shaving or soreness after sexual intercourse can cause vaginal pain symptoms. Various infections, including urinary tract infections, yeast infections, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can cause vaginal pain as well [1].

Some causes of vaginal pain symptoms can be treated or prevented at home by following some basic hygiene instructions. Yeast infections can be treated with over-the-counter medications. Other causes of vaginal pain, including all sexually transmitted infections, will need to be evaluated and treated by a doctor. The risk of sexually transmitted infections can be greatly reduced by the proper use of condoms.

Common accompanying symptoms of vaginal pain

If you're experiencing vaginal pain, it's likely to also experience:

Vaginal Pain Causes

There are multiple causes of vaginal pain, including infection, irritation, or trauma [2]. Viral and bacterial infections, whether sexually transmitted or not, can cause lesions, pain, discharge, or itching. Yeast infections and urinary tract infections may also cause vaginal pain [3]. Irritation from shaving, hygiene products, or vaginal dryness can lead to pain as well [4]. Less commonly, vaginal pain symptoms are due to trauma or a vaginal pain syndrome.

Infectious causes

Vaginal pain may be caused by the following infections.

  • Viral infections: Certain viruses can cause vaginal infection and pain. Many of these viruses are sexually transmitted. Some viruses can cause lesions or blisters on the outside of the vagina which can be very painful.
  • Bacterial infections: Some bacterial infections can cause vaginal pain symptoms. Some bacterial infections, like chlamydia and gonorrhea, are sexually transmitted. Others, like bacterial vaginosis are not sexually transmitted.
  • Yeast infections: Yeast infections are a common cause of vaginal discomfort or pain. They often present with itching and vaginal discharge.
  • Urinary tract infections: Bacteria can spread to the urinary tract and cause infection in the urethra. This can cause pain in the urethra and surrounding area, particularly pain or burning with urination [5].

Irritation-related causes

Causes related to irritation of the vagina may be related to the following.

  • Post-menopausal: After menopause the natural lubrication in the vagina decreases. This can cause vaginal dryness, resulting in irritation or pain.
  • Topical irritation: Many things can irritate the external part of the vagina and cause pain, including shaving, soaps or lotions, and feminine hygiene products.

Other causes

Other causes of vaginal pain may be related to the following.

  • Pain syndromes: Vaginal pain syndromes are a less common cause of vaginal pain. Typically, they present with pain during sexual intercourse or vaginal penetration [2].
  • Trauma: Any trauma to the vagina or the surrounding area can lead to pain. Sometimes, women experience pain or soreness after sex.
  • Postpartum: It is common for women to experience vaginal pain or soreness after delivering a baby.

5 Possible Vaginal Pain Conditions

The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced vaginal pain. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Yeast infection

Yeast infections are due to alterations in the balance of microscopic organisms in the vulvar and vaginal regions. The term "yeast infection" is most commonly used to describe symptoms caused by the fungus Candida albicans.

Symptoms include itching of the vaginal and vulva, burning, redness...

Read more

Bartholin duct abscess

The Bartholin gland sits in the outer part of the vagina and produces fluid that lubricates it. A Bartholin duct abscess is caused by a blockage in the gland and a bacterial infection within the fluid that builds up.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: vaginal pain, painful sex, bump on the outer part of the vagina, painful vagina lump, small vagina lump

Symptoms that always occur with bartholin duct abscess: bump on the outer part of the vagina, vaginal pain

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Vaginal Pain Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your vaginal pain

Lichen sclerosus

Lichen sclerosus is chronic skin condition in which a person forms patches of white, wrinkly, thin skin, often described as being like "cigarette paper." Most people with this condition will experience it on their anus and genital regions, and some will experience it on other parts of the...

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Bartholin cyst

A Bartholin cyst is a fluid-filled mass that can develop near the opening of the vagina. They can be painful or painless and are caused by a buildup of fluid in a small gland near the vaginal canal.

Symptoms predominantly include the presence of a painless bump near the vaginal opening as well...

Read more

Vulvar cancer

Vulvar cancer is a cancer of the outer portion of the female genitalia.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: vaginal discharge, vaginal itch or burning, vaginal pain, painful urination, vagina lump

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Vaginal Pain Treatments and Relief

At-home treatment and prevention

The best ways to manage or prevent vaginal pain can begin at home. Consider the following options.

  • Hygiene: Use gentle, fragrance-free soaps on the outside of the vagina and avoid using products inside the vagina. Avoid douching. Avoid shaving if it irritates the surrounding skin.
  • Over-the-counter medications: Yeast infections can be treated with over-the-counter medication. However, if you are unsure of the cause of your symptoms, see a doctor who can diagnose the problem.
  • STI prevention: Use condoms to prevent transmission of sexually transmitted infections.

When to see a doctor

If your vaginal pain worsens or persists, you should see your doctor. He or she may recommend the following.

  • Antibiotics: If your symptoms are due to a bacterial infection, like bacterial vaginosis, a urinary tract infection, or gonorrhea or chlamydia, a doctor will prescribe an antibiotic.
  • Other medication: There are various topical and oral medications that can help with vaginal dryness. If you have a viral infection, a doctor might prescribe antivirals.
  • Referral to a specialist: If a doctor suspects that you have a vaginal pain syndrome, they may refer you to a specialist who diagnoses and treats this condition.

When it is an emergency

If you have severe vaginal pain, seek treatment right away.

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Once your story is reviewed and approved by our editors, it will live on Buoy as a helpful resource for anyone who may be dealing with something similar.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Vaginal Pain

To diagnose this condition, your doctor would likely ask the following questions:

  • Have you ever had a yeast infection?
  • Do you feel pain when you urinate?
  • Have you ever been diagnosed with diabetes?
  • Have you ever been diagnosed with HIV or AIDS?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions

Please take a quiz to find out what might be causing your vaginal pain. These questions are also covered.

Vaginal Pain Quiz

Vaginal Pain Symptom Checker Statistics

People who have experienced vaginal pain have also experienced:

  • 21% Vaginal Itch Or Burning
  • 11% Vaginal Discharge
  • 6% Yellow Pus Vaginal Discharge

People who have experienced vaginal pain were most often matched with:

  • 50% Bartholin Duct Abscess
  • 37% Lichen Sclerosus
  • 12% Yeast Infection

People who have experienced vaginal pain had symptoms persist for:

  • 44% Less than a week
  • 23% Less than a day
  • 14% Over a month

Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from Buoy Assistant (a.k.a. the quiz).

Vaginal Pain Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your vaginal pain

References

  1. Vaginitis. Cleveland Clinic. Cleveland Clinic Link
  2. Jobling P, O'Hara K, Hua S. Female reproductive tract pain: targets, challenges, and outcomes. Front Pharmacol. 2014;5:17. Published Feb. 13, 2014. NCBI Link
  3. Heim LJ. Evaluation of Differential Diagnosis of Dyspareunia. Am Fam Physician. 2001 Apr 15;63(8):1535-1545. AAFP Link
  4. Vaginal Symptoms. healthychildren.org. healthychildren.org Link
  5. Urinary Tract Infection - Female. Seattle Children's. Updated Nov. 3, 2018. Seattle Children's Link

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