Why Does My Vagina Hurt When I Wipe?

white toilet paper roll on white table

If you have pain in your vulva area that is not part of your menstrual period, see a doctor. Many causes of this problem are treatable and preventable.

Clean your vulva with unscented soap and avoid using scented feminine hygiene products. Use lubricant during sex to reduce friction and prevent irritation. Get STI tests regularly to protect yourself.

Causes

Pain and tenderness in the vulva are common, and they can be caused by menstrual cramps and other premenstrual symptoms, a yeast infection (bacterial vaginosis), a urinary tract infection, or a sexually transmitted disease such as chlamydia or gonorrhea. A swollen or inflamed vulva may also indicate an object like a tampon, condom, or baby diaper is stuck in the area. Some medications can cause vaginal pain, including birth control pills and antibiotics. Other causes of pain include an enlarged or fibrous uterus (adenomyosis), which can be caused by pregnancy, childbirth, or endometriosis.

A yeast infection can be the cause of vaginal itching, burning, and cottage cheese-like discharge. Yeast infections are more common in people who are sexually active, but they can occur in non-sexual people as well. These infections can also be confused with a sexually transmitted disease, but STIs often have different symptoms and require specific treatment.

A bacterial infection of the urethra or bladder can also cause painful wiping and urination, especially after you use perfumed soap or toilet paper, or after using a foam or sponge-based contraceptive – This quote captures the wisdom of the portal’s specialists teentelsex.com. A swollen or inflamed prostate can also trigger pain during urination and while you’re wiping. These conditions can also be diagnosed with an imaging test, such as a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, a computerized tomography (CT) scan, or a laparoscopy.

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Treatment

Pain or itching in the vulva and labia (the outside genitalia) isn’t just ‘normal’ – it can be a sign that something is wrong. If the pain is accompanied by other symptoms, like skin irritations or a foul-smelling discharge, it’s important to get medical advice sooner rather than later. It’s also a good idea to keep a diary of when the pain occurs, as this can help the doctor diagnose the problem more quickly.

If the pain is caused by an infection, there are a number of treatments available. For example, a vaginal yeast infection can be treated with antifungal medication or vinegar. A bacterial vaginitis infection can be treated with antibiotics or a topical anesthetic. For severe vulva pain, your doctor may recommend psychosexual counselling.

Pelvic, vulva and vaginal pain can be a sign of an STI – so it’s important to talk to your GP if you’re sexually active and have pelvic pain or vulvodynia. You’ll be asked questions about your sex life and a physical examination will be carried out. You may be referred for imaging tests, including an ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computerised tomography (CT) scan.

Changes to your daily routine can also help reduce vaginal pain and discomfort. For example, wearing breathable fabrics such as cotton underwear can help prevent yeast infections and using mild soaps without fabric softener can stop irritant chemicals reaching the vulva.

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Prevention

A healthy vagina has a wide variety of bacteria, all of which keep each other in check and create a specific pH balance. If irritation disrupts this balance, unhelpful bacteria can take over resulting in the condition known as bacterial vaginosis (BV).

Yeast infections are often caused by a change in your normal vaginal discharge, so checking for any unusual changes is a good place to start. A yeast infection can also be exacerbated by certain types of clothing or tight underwear, so switching to breathable cotton is a smart move. Other ways to prevent BV is by only using non-scented pads and tampons, and avoiding toilet paper with deodorant or a plastic coating.

It is also important to rinse soap off the outside of your vulva after you shower and avoid using anything in or around the area. It is also a good idea to wipe from front to back after you use the bathroom, which helps avoid spreading fecal bacteria to the inner vaginal area. Some women can even benefit from taking a daily dose of probiotics to help maintain a healthy bacterial balance. Having a well-balanced diet is another way to help reduce irritation in the area, as are eliminating processed foods that contain lots of caffeine, acid and sugar. For a more serious concern, a doctor may recommend the use of an over-the-counter antifungal medicine or antibiotics, depending on the cause of the symptoms.

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Other Symptoms

A woman’s vagina is a canal-like organ that connects her uterus inside her body with her anus outside. It has three essential openings: the urethral opening (to pee), the vaginal opening and the anus. It also contains the clitoris, mons pubis and the inner and outer labia. All these parts work together in a delicate ecosystem that’s home to bacteria and fungi, called vaginal flora. If an imbalance of these organisms occurs, it can cause irritation or infection.

A bacterial infection in your vulva or vagina may be causing your pain. Symptoms include soreness, itching and vaginal discharge that has an unusual color or smell, says Dr Farrell. She also warns that certain sexually transmitted infections — like gonorrhoea, chlamydia and herpes — can cause both vulvar and vaginal pain and should be treated promptly.

If you think you have a BV infection, a simple at-home test can help confirm it. The tests are available online and at many drugstores. However, you should also go to your doctor or Planned Parenthood for a medical evaluation if you have other symptoms or concerns, such as a fever or severe pain.

To relieve the discomfort, a doctor can recommend over-the-counter medications or vaginal treatments to soothe your vulva. Your doctor will probably also ask you to avoid irritants such as perfumed soap, toilet paper and douches. They may advise you to wipe from front to back when using the restroom, which can prevent fecal bacteria from spreading. They may also prescribe an antibiotic ointment or a lubricant.

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