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Cramps After Sex: IUD, Pregnancy, Period, and Ovulation

Dr Rohit Bhaskar
Dr Rohit Bhaskar
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Many women experience pain during menstruation (dysmenorrhea). Commonly, this pain occurs as cramping in the abdomen. It usually starts one to two days into menstruation, and can last from 12 to 72 hours.

Cramping can also occur during ovulation when a woman’s egg drops from her fallopian tube into her uterus. Pain during the menstrual cycle is caused by contractions in a woman’s uterus.

Cramps After Sex

During sex, period pain may actually be alleviated to some degree. However, the pressure sex puts on the cervix may cause pain afterwards. Ovulating and menstruating women are more likely to experience cramping after sex. Orgasms can also set off contractions that cause cramping in the abdomen.

How can cramps after sex be treated?

Cramps after sex can have many causes. Luckily, the causes are usually not a major cause for concern. But that doesn’t make cramping after sex any less painful or unpleasant.

Taking pain-relievers

One effective treatment for cramping after sex is pain-relieving medication. Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers can lessen cramping by relaxing the abdominal muscles. These include:
  • Ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin IB)
  • Naproxen sodium (Aleve)
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Applying heat
Applying heat to your abdomen can also help reduce abdominal cramping. You can do this with:
  • A hot bath
  • Heating pad
  • Hot water bottle
  • Heat patch
Heat works by increasing blood flow or circulation to the cramped area, relieving pain.

Cramps After Sex

Add supplements

You may want to try adding supplements to your diet, such as:
  • Vitamin E
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Vitamin B-1 (thiamine)
  • Vitamin B-6
  • Magnesium
These supplements can help ease tension in the muscles, lessening cramping and pain.

Practice relaxation techniques

Sex is a pleasurable experience, but orgasm can cause tension in the body. If you experience cramping after sex, relaxation techniques can sometimes help ease pain. Stretching, yoga, deep breathing, and meditation can be effective.

Adjust lifestyle

If you experience cramps after sex and you also drink and smoke, you might want to reconsider your habits. Drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco can often make cramping worse.

Cramps After Sex

When should you see a doctor?

During pregnancy

Frequent sex during pregnancy can sometimes lead to urinary tract infections (UTIs), especially if you’re prone to them. UTIs can cause pregnancy complications if you don’t seek treatment. You may have a UTI if you’ve been experiencing:
  • Abdominal cramping
  • A persistent urge to urinate
  • A burning sensation when urinating
  • Cloudy urine
  • Reddish urine
  • Rtrong-smelling urine
In this case you should seek medical treatment. You can prevent a UTI by emptying your bladder after sex.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

Some STIs can cause abdominal cramping, including:
  • Chlamydia
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • Hepatitis
You may notice this cramping is more severe after sex. Often, STIs are accompanied by other symptoms, and being familiar with those symptoms can help you determine whether or not you have an STI.

Cramps After Sex

During menstruation

Usually cramping after sex during menstruation isn’t a cause for concern. But in some cases, period pain can be a sign of a medical problem. If your menstrual pain begins earlier in your cycle and lasts longer, the cramping may be caused by a reproductive disorder, such as:
  • Endometriosis
  • Adenomyosis
  • Uterine fibroids
See your doctor if you’re experiencing severe or long-lasting menstrual cramps or cramps after sex. They’ll screen you for various medical issues that could be causing them.

The bottom line

Normally, cramping after sex isn’t a cause for concern. And often this pain can be alleviated with a little attention, whether it’s OTC medication or relaxation techniques.

However, if cramping after sex is totally disrupting your love life, or even your everyday life, you should promptly see a doctor. They’ll be able to tell you exactly what’s causing the pain you experience after intercourse.

If you begin experiencing cramping after sex, keep a journal of your symptoms that you can later show to your doctor. Be sure to make note of:

  • The severity of your cramps when they first started
  • The dates of your last two menstrual periods
  • The timing of your pregnancy, if applicable
  • Information about any reproductive or sexual problems you’ve had
  • Information about any medications or dietary supplements you take
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