Sexual Health: Common Sex Injuries and Other Hazards

Sex is supposed to feel good, but a few wrong moves could leave you in pain.

When Sex Hurts

Sex is supposed to feel good, but a few wrong moves beneath the sheets could leave you in pain. Anything from a rug burn to a penile fracture is possible if you get too rough or move too fast. Take it slow and know your limits to avoid these common sex injuries and other hazards.

Rough sex can tear the sensitive tissue of the vagina or anus.

Tears to the Vagina or Anus

Rough sex or a foreign object (like a dildo) can tear the sensitive tissue inside the vagina or anus. This can be painful, and you may bleed. If it hurts, your doctor can prescribe a pain-relieving cream. Don't put anything inside your vagina or anus until the area heals. Use a lubricant whenever you have sex to avoid injuries in the future.

You can fracture your penis if you bend it too far or hit it too hard.

A Broken Penis

You can fracture your penis if you bend it too far or hit it hard against your partner's pelvis when you slip out while thrusting. This is different from a broken finger or toe. That's because your penis has no bones. Instead, the force ruptures one of the two cylinders inside that fill with blood during an erection. Signs of a penile fracture are a popping sound, swelling, and intense pain. Get medical help right away.

Sexual activity can strain a muscle.  During an orgasm, your thighs naturally tense up, and you may feel sore afterward.

Muscle Pull

Any activity where you do the same movement over and over -- like thrusting -- can strain a muscle. Twisting your body too hard can pull muscles in your belly or back. During an orgasm, your thighs naturally tense up, and you may feel sore afterward. Any pain should let up in a day or two. If it doesn't, you might have a real injury that needs your doctor's attention.

Sexual activity can cause carpet burns and scrapes. Carpet burns can be very painful, but they'll heal on their own in a few days.

Carpet Burn

The friction of rubbing against a rough surface -- say a rug or the floor -- can leave scrapes and burns on your back, buttocks, and legs. Friction burns can be very painful. Fortunately, most aren't serious, and they'll heal on their own in a few days. To avoid one of these, put a blanket down as a buffer if you plan to get busy on the carpet or the floor.

During sexual activity, be careful with foreign objects as they can become stuck.

Stuck Foreign Objects

Some couples use sex toys, such as vibrators, dildos, anal beads, or butt plugs, to enhance their pleasure. Others reach for household items, like a cucumber or electric toothbrush. Playing with toys is totally normal. Just be careful that the object you use has a wide enough base that it won't get stuck. If a toy or other object goes in too far, you may have to make a trip to the emergency room to have it removed.

Lubricant, spermicides, condoms, and other items can all trigger allergic reactions during sexual activity.

Allergic Reactions

An itchy rash or burning after sex could be from an allergy. Lubricant, spermicides, condoms, and even a partner's cologne can all trigger reactions in people who are sensitive to them. Rarely, people are allergic to semen or to a protein in something their male partner ate, such as nuts, that got into the semen. Symptoms of an allergic reaction usually start about 10 to 30 minutes after the contact. They can last for hours to days.

Heart attacks are pretty rare during sexual activity. Check with your doctor.

Heart Attack

This is pretty rare outside of the movies. As long as your heart is healthy, there's no reason to abstain from sex. After all, it counts as aerobic exercise, which is actually good for your heart. As long as you can do other exercises like walking or jogging without a problem, you should be healthy enough for sex. Just check with your doctor first if you have symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, or an irregular heartbeat.

It's pretty easy to throw your back out during sexual activity. Fortunately there's different sex positions that can help!

Back Injury

A swift move in just the right (or wrong) direction could throw out your back. Lifting your partner might do the trick as well. Take it slow. Prop your partner against the bed or a countertop rather than going for a full lift. If you already have a bad back and it hurts to bend over, skip spooning -- especially if you are the big spoon. You may be more comfortable having sex doggy-style, where one partner is on all fours and the other is in back.

During sex, germs can travel up the urethra and into your urinary tract, causing a urinary tract infection.

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

Bacteria normally live outside the vagina. During sex, a penis, finger, or sex toy can give these germs an easy route up the urethra and into your urinary tract. Signs that you have a UTI include burning when you pee and blood in your urine. To avoid an infection, urinate right after you have sex to flush out any bacteria. Ask your doctor whether cranberry juice or tablets might help you avoid UTIs.

Sexually transmitted infections (STI), or sexually transmitted diseases (STD) are common hazards of sexual activity.

Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI)

Without proper precautions, you and your partner could pass bacteria, viruses, and other germs to each other. Almost 20 million people in the United States get an STI like herpes, syphilis, or gonorrhea each year. Condoms are the best way to avoid these infections. Having only one sex partner can also lower your risk.

Post-orgasmic illness syndrome can cause flu- or allergy-like symptoms such as fever, stuffy nose, sneezing, headache, and itchy eyes.

Post-Orgasmic Illness Syndrome

People with this rare condition develop flu- or allergy-like symptoms after they orgasm. Fever, stuffy nose, sneezing, headache, and itchy eyes can start within seconds, or up to a few hours, after sex. It can last for a few days. Doctors don't know what sets off this reaction, but it's more common in men. If you have this syndrome, allergy medicines or antidepressants may help.

Doctors call depression or anxiety after sexual activity postcoital dysphoria.

Post-Sex Depression

Sex should be fun and relaxing, but it isn't for everyone. Some people get the "post-sex blues," even if the sex was good and they're in a loving relationship. Doctors call depression or anxiety after sex "postcoital dysphoria." Some people may even become angry and lash out at their partner. If sex is upsetting instead of pleasurable, talk to your doctor or a therapist about it.

If genital burning happens often with sex, check with your doctor.

Genital Burning

Feeling a burn in your vagina or penis is never normal -- during sex or otherwise. Many problems cause a burning sensation. In women, it can be due to vaginal dryness from low estrogen levels around the time of menopause. An injury, infection, or lack of lubrication can also cause burning or pain in either partner. Burning once in a while is probably no reason to worry. But if it often happens with sex, check with your doctor.



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  • International Society for Sexual Medicine: "What is a sperm allergy?"
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  • Office on Women's Health: "Sexually Transmitted Infections."
  • Planned Parenthood: "Is it normal for my thighs to hurt during sex?" "Sex Toys."
  • San Francisco AIDS Foundation: "Anal fissures are treatable."
  • Spine: "Male Spine Motion During Coitus."
  • The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: "Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)."
  • Tufts Medical Center: "Abdominal Muscle Strain: Teen Version."
  • University of Pittsburgh Medical Center: "Types of Burns: Thermal, Electrical, and More."
  • Urology Care Foundation: "What is Penile Trauma?"
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