Why My Vagina Hurts When I Cough

Several conditions can cause the pelvic area to hurt when you cough. The most common is a urinary tract infection.

A collection of blood in the vault, called a vault haematoma, can also cause pain when you cough. It’s usually treated with antibiotics. Other symptoms include changes in urination and incontinence.

Vaginal discharge

Women’s vulva produces normal discharge that helps clean and lubricate the area. Changes in this natural fluid may be a sign of infection or disease. These changes include an increase in the amount of discharge, a change in color or a change in consistency. Itching in or around the vulva is also a sign of an abnormal discharge and should be evaluated promptly by a doctor.

A change in the color or consistency of vaginal discharge can be a sign of thrush or bacterial vaginosis (BV). BV happens when there is an overgrowth of certain bacteria naturally found in the vagina. It causes a grayish-white, foul-smelling and fishy odor and is treated with antibiotics. Yellow or green discharge can be caused by a yeast infection (yeast) or by a sexually transmitted infection called trichomoniasis, which is caused by a parasite.

Other symptoms that should be evaluated immediately by a doctor are pain during urination or sexual intercourse, heavy bleeding after childbirth and pain in the legs. Pain in the legs is a sign of deep vein thrombosis, which occurs when a blood clot forms in a leg vein.

Yeast infection

Yeast (a type of fungus) is normal in the body and is found on skin, inside the mouth and digestive tract. In the vagina, it’s usually kept in check by healthy bacteria called Lactobacillus. If something changes this balance, yeast can overgrow and cause an infection.

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This is most common in women but men can also get it. It’s not considered a sexually transmitted disease (STI) and can happen without sex. Yeast infections aren’t very serious and can be treated with over-the-counter antifungal medicines like Monistat.

The main symptom of a yeast infection is itching in or around the vagina. Other symptoms include thick, clumpy, whitish-yellow or cottage cheese-looking vaginal discharge with no odor; painful urination; and a feeling that you’re not fully peeing.

It’s important to see a doctor for a diagnosis before trying an over-the-counter remedy. Some herbal remedies can interfere with prescription medications or cause other unwanted side effects. A doctor may take a sample of the vaginal discharge and test it for Candida or other organisms. Other tests may be used if symptoms aren’t typical of a yeast infection, such as a urine sample to rule out a urinary tract infection (UTI). Yeast infections can last for weeks to months and may need long-term treatment with systemic antifungal medicines.

Bacterial vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is caused by the bacteria called ‘anaerobes’, which usually outnumber the ‘good’ bacteria (called lactobacilli). It’s not an STD or STI, but is common among women of childbearing age. BV happens when something changes the normal chemistry of your vagina, such as douching or unprotected sex.

Symptoms include lots of thin vaginal discharge with a fishy smell. It may be white, dull gray, greenish or foamy. It can also feel itchy, but it’s not usually painful. BV doesn’t spread from person to person, but it does happen more often after having sex. It’s not known exactly why, but researchers think that sex changes the balance of your own vaginal bacteria, allowing bacteria to grow faster than normal.

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Symptoms of BV are usually treated with antibiotics, which are taken as tablets or as a gel that’s inserted in the vagina. Typical treatments are Flagyl (metronidazole), clindamycin or Tindamax (tinidazole). BV often comes back, so you’ll need to continue treatment for months, even if you don’t have symptoms. Some people use a probiotic to help keep the bacteria in check.

Bartholin’s cysts

The Bartholin glands are on each side of the vaginal opening and secrete fluid that helps lubricate the labia (lips around the vagina) during sex. This fluid travels through ducts to the vagina and if these ducts get blocked, the fluid backs up and forms a cyst. This can be painful.

Most small Bartholin’s cysts don’t cause any symptoms and are found only during a pelvic examination for another reason. However, larger ones can cause pain when walking, sitting, or having sexual intercourse. These cysts can also form abscesses which are very painful and need to be drained by a doctor.

Symptoms of a Bartholin’s cyst or abscess are a tender lump on one side of the vagina. The surrounding area may be red and swollen and is often hot to the touch. Pus oozing from the cyst can be foul-smelling and needs to be drained. Your doctor can drain it for you by making a small cut and inserting a small rubber tube (catheter) into the opening. This will drain the contents of the cyst and remove the infection.

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Thrush

Thrush is a common infection caused by a fungus called Candida albicans. It often affects the vulva but can also affect the penis and can be uncomfortable, painful and itchy. Candida is a fungus that usually lives harmlessly in warm and moist places like the mouth, bowel, vagina and foreskin of the penis, but when there’s an overgrowth of it, it can cause problems. Women can get thrush in pregnancy but it’s not harmful to the baby. It’s more common in newborns because their immune systems are still developing and it can occur as a result of taking antibiotics, or certain medicines such as steroids (including some inhalers for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) that upset the balance of good bacteria.

Symptoms of thrush include itching in the vulva and a white vaginal discharge. Antifungal vaginal creams and suppositories reduce overgrowth of candida and help relieve symptoms. Unlike other yeast infections, vaginal thrush is not a sexually transmitted infection and many people have a small amount of candida in their bodies before having any symptoms.

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