Cramping Pain During Arousal

Men and women can experience cramping pain during arousal (called dyspareunia). This is often due to muscle strain, but it may also indicate an underlying condition that needs treatment.

If your pain is regular or severe, talk to a doctor. Sex should never be painful, and it’s important to get the help you need.

Vaginal Cramps

Women often experience pain and cramping in the vulva (the internal organs that make up the vagina, cervix, fallopian tubes, and ovaries) and in the labia and skin that form the outside genitalia. Generally, it is not safe to ignore this type of pain and a visit with the doctor may be required.

Cramps that are centered in the vulva can feel like a spasm or a tightening, and they may be sharp and intense. These can be painful during sex or after using a tampon, and they may also be caused by certain exercises or by pregnancy complications. They can occur in a single area or across the whole vulva, and they can be provoked by touch or unprovoked.

Period cramps are a normal part of menstruation, and they usually last for several days. However, if you’re experiencing severe pelvic pain and bleeding that is not associated with your monthly cycle, it’s a sign of another condition or infection. This is called secondary dysmenorrhea.

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Sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia, gonorrhea, and herpes can cause pain and itching in the vulva. Additionally, uterine cancer and endometriosis are both causes of pain in the vulva. These conditions can also cause spotting and bloody or foul-smelling discharge. Pain in the vulva can also be referred from other areas of the body, such as the lower back and inner thighs.

Abdominal Cramps

When you experience pain in your abdomen, it might feel like a stomach ache or cramps. In some cases, this type of pain can indicate a serious health condition. To help determine the cause, it’s important to establish what kind of pain you’re feeling and how long it’s lasted.

Is the pain generalized or localized? If the pain is generalized, it’s typical of stomach viruses or indigestion as the cause. Pain that’s localized in one area might indicate a problem with an organ such as your appendix or gallbladder.

Cramping pain is typically short-lived and not a serious cause for concern. However, pain that’s constant or recurrent may be a sign of small bowel obstruction. The pain may come and go, increase in severity then disappear for periods of time as the obstruction is cleared. This is called intermittent pain. If you’re experiencing this, call your doctor immediately. The condition can be fatal if left untreated.

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Pelvic Cramps

Pelvic pain is a symptom that can mean any number of things. For women and people assigned female at birth (AFAB), it often refers to problems with the reproductive organs, but pelvic pain can also signal problems with other internal organs such as the bladder or intestines.

Every month, the uterus builds up a lining of tissue to create a place where an embryo can implant and grow. This lining breaks down and is shed during a menstrual period, which causes cramps. Pain can feel dull or achy or it can be sharp and stabbing. It usually lasts for a few days and goes away with over-the-counter pain relievers, rest and de-stressing.

Occasionally, painful ovulation or cramping can be the sign of a miscarriage. If you have severe pelvic pain or cramping accompanied by vaginal bleeding, dizziness and nausea, get medical help right away.

Sometimes, pelvic pain is the sign of a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Gonorrhea or chlamydia are common in AFAB, and both cause painful urination and changes in the color, smell or frequency of vaginal discharge. The good news is that a short course of antibiotics will clear up the infections. A pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) may also result in pain. It happens when bacteria enter the vulva and cause an infection in the ovaries, fallopian tubes or cervix.

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Stomach Cramps

Stomach cramps are usually mild and short-lived. However, severe abdominal pain that comes on suddenly is a medical emergency and you should seek prompt attention. Determining the character of the pain is essential to discovering its cause. It can be generalized or localized and it may feel like hunger pain, burning or sticking pain, or pressure or stretching pain.

It’s common to experience stomach cramping when you’re nervous or anxious. Deep breathing and stress reduction techniques can help. If your anxiety is causing frequent stomach cramping, see a mental health professional for help. Pregnant women often experience stomach cramps as pulling sensations on one or both sides of the abdomen. These are caused by the uterus expanding to make room for the growing fetus.

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