Sharp pain in vagina: 25 Causes, 15 Symptoms, 10 Treatments

Sometimes you may experience a very sharp pain in vagina.  You surely must have checked the calendar to verify if your periods are about to start!

Are you surprised that your periods are not due but still you experience a shooting pain in the vagina?

Of course, vaginal pain commonly occurs in women just before and during their periods.  But sometimes there are numerous other reasons for this intense pain.

Note that pain is not a cause of worry if it is temporary and goes within hours or a day.  But sometimes it is constant sharp and even severe.  Why does it occur and how to get relief?  Should you take home remedies or go to the doctor?

To know this, you need to understand your vagina, other female genital organs and their functions.  There is also an exhaustive list of causes that can cause sharp pain in Vagina.  Read on to know more…..

What is Vagina?

sharp pain in vagina
Sharp pain in vagina
Image source: myhealthdosage.com

The vagina is the tube made of muscles that connect external of women/female mammals to the Uterus.  It is also called the Birth Canal.  Though scientifically it is a muscular passage, in common parlance it refers to all the female genital organs.  These include the vagina, Ovary uterus, Vulva, cervix and Fallopian tubes.

Sharp pain in vagina may be due to problems/infection in any of these organs. Surprisingly, it may also be due to the organs performing their functions regularly.

Ovaries:

The ovary is a part of the female reproductive system where ovum or the eggs produced. This egg travels towards the uterus where it is fertilized by the sperm.

Some women experience stabbing pain in vagina when ovulation, i.e. release of an egg from ovary occurs.  This pain is short term and occurs at the ovary is being stretched to release the egg.  Also, the fluid released can cause minor pain.

No medical treatment is required unless the pain is unbearable and you are not able to carry on your activities as usual. Premenstrual syndrome is another painful episode connected to the ovary.

The sharp pain in Vagina may at times be attributed to big cysts that are formed in the ovary at times.

Uterus:

Uterus or the womb is where the fertilized egg changes into an embryo.

Prolapse of uterus, cancer of uterus, inflammation or infection can also be a reason for the sharp pain in vagina.

Vulva:

The vulva is a part of female genital organs.  It is the exit point of urine, menses and sweat.  It is also the entry point of sperm.  An infection to this organ can pass on to the other major organs inside the body causing vaginal pain.

Fallopian tubes:

Fallopian tubes act as a passage for the egg to move into the uterus.  Inflammation, infection or cancer to this organ may lead to sharp pain in vagina.

Cervix:

The sperm enters the Uterus through the vaginal canal and through Cervix to reach its final destination.    Since this organ is very near the vagina, no wonder any problems here will shoot up the vaginal pain.

25 Causes for the Sharp Pain in Vagina:

Here are some specific causes for the shooting pain in the vaginal region.

Dysmenorrhea:

Menstruation is a monthly phenomenon in a women’s life.  Every month the uterus sheds its lining when fertilization has not taken place. The lining consists of blood and tissue that passes through the vagina.

During menstruation, most women have the following symptoms

  • Mild to heavy Blood loss
  • Mood swings, irritability
  • Cramps in the vaginal region that can be very severe and painful

The sharp pain inside Vagina which you experience during menstrual periods is called Dysmenorrhea.  More than 90% women experience this pain, and for some 30%, it is indeed very severe.

  • It is called Primary dysmenorrhea when your uterus is doing its regular monthly duty of pushing out it’s lining during menstruation.  This sharp pain is vaginal area is experienced in the first two days of menstruation cycle.
  • It is called secondary dysmenorrhea when the Sharp pain in Vagina is due to reproductive diseases like uterine fibroids and adenomyosis.
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Vulvodynia:

Pain in the opening of the vagina called vulva is called vulvodynia.  This pain is chronic and can remain for more than three months.  It may occur due to infection, nerve damage in the area or due to sensitive skin.  This condition is not common.

Persons affected with will have problems having sex and may not even able to sit down without pain.

Cervicitis:

Cervicitis is the part of the Uterus that opens into the Vagina.  Inflammation of this area is called Cervicitis.  It is usually caused by STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection) diseases like gonorrhoea or Chlamydia.

Very rarely Cervicitis is caused due to bacteria or allergy.  Though symptoms are not apparent, you may suspect this problem if

  • You have pain during sex
  • You experience yellow, green or even brown vaginal discharge which may at times have a foul smell
  • Discharge includes blood
  • Bleeding after sex
  • Frequent urge to urinate
Endometriosis:

Endometrial tissue forms a lining inside your uterus every month.  It is usually shed during your periods.  Sometimes it grows outside your uterus in areas like pelvis, fallopian tubes and ovaries.

This is not shed during a period as it is outside the uterus and may cause severe Vaginal pain.  This condition is called Endometriosis.

Adenomyosis:

Adenomyosis occurs when the endometrial tissue is grown on the muscular wall of your uterus.   While the lining of the uterus swells and falls off during periods, this growth on muscle swells but creates cramp during menstruation.

Symptoms of adenomyosis are heavy bleeding and blood clots during periods, enlargement of the uterus, pain while having sex and expansion of belly.

Pregnancy outside Uterus:

In rare cases, the egg is fertilized outside the Uterus, in areas like the fallopian tube.  Though you get a positive pregnancy result, this pregnancy may not continue its term.

This is called Ectopic pregnancy. It may cause unbearable stabbing pain in Vagina. The pain is sometimes on one side of the abdomen.

The doctors may suspect an Ectopic pregnancy and may conduct further tests when you have the following symptoms:

  • Spotting
  • Cramps
  • Pain in the shoulder

Ectopic pregnancies are life-threatening as the fallopian tubes have chances of bursting.

Miscarriage:

Miscarriages occur due to loss of the fetus in the first trimester.  Many pregnancies end as miscarriages due to various reasons.  This situation can happen even before you get your pregnancy verified.

At such times you will experience Sharp Pain inside Vagina due to the ensuing cramps.  You may also have light to heavy bleeding.

If you experience these symptoms, symptoms a doctor at the earliest.

Premature labour:

The full term of normal pregnancy is 37 weeks.  But sometimes pregnant women go into labour early.  At least 1 in ten women have this experience.  Babies born this way are not fully developed. They may develop survival difficulties shortly.

Women who deliver pre-term have their difficulties.

  • They have a Sharp pain in Vagina
  • They have a dull back pain
  • They may develop problems in the uterus
Fibroids in Uterus:

Fibroids are tiny growths in the Uterus and are very common in women.  They are minute in size and are not cancerous.   They only cause Vaginal pain when they grow in size and stress the neighbouring organs.

Sometimes fibroids:

  • Can block the passing of urine,
  • May cause heavy bleeding or bleeding between two periods.
  • Big fibroids can cause constipation, painful sex, leg and back pain.
Cysts in Ovary:

Do you experience a stabbing pain in Vagina?  This could be because of ovarian cysts.

Cysts are sacs of harmless fluid found in many parts of the body.  They may form even in the ovary.  They are smaller than the size of a pea and just fade away in few days.  Sometimes they grow in size and can cause severe pain especially in the lower belly region.

Some cysts burst and can cause strain on the nerves and cause dull or sometimes unbearable vaginal pain.

Ovarian cysts may cause a bloated stomach, vomiting and irregular periods.

Urinary infection:

Urinary infection is very common among women.  The main cause is bacteria which multiplies and infects the urinary tract, bladder, urethra and the kidneys.

If you are suffering from a Urinary infection, your pain will probably concentrate in the middle of pelvis very near the pubic area.

Vaginitis:

Vaginitis is an infection caused by Bacteria, parasites and yeast.  They are very common in women especially in the age group 14 – 49.   There are three types of vaginitis –

Yeast vaginitis:

Occurs due to Candida albicans fungus.  This fungus is ever present in the body, and its population is controlled by our immune system.  It is when the fungus grows unhindered that this Yeast infection occurs.

Trichomoniasis:

It is caused by a parasite and is sexually transmitted

Bacterial vaginosis:

Abnormal growth of infection-causing bacteria in the vagina.  The vaginal discharge due to this ailment has whitish grey colour and smells like fish.

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Vaginismus:

Vaginismus refers to the uncontrollable tightening of vaginal muscles. It may occur during a pelvic examination, inserting a tampon or having sex.  This tightening of muscles occurs as a result of anxiety or fear of such experiences in the past.

Norovirus Infection:

Sharp pain in Vagina can also be attributed to the activity of Norovirus in the stomach.

Norovirus causes many problems in the stomach and intestine leading to vomiting, cramps, dizziness, dark urine and diarrhoea.  You may experience dehydration, dizziness, fatigue and dry mouth. Drinking lot of fluids can help in this condition.

Since the stomach and intestine lie very near vagina, hence the sharp pain is experienced in this region.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease:

The pelvic Inflammatory disease occurs due to SIT diseases like Chlamydia and gonorrhoea.  It occurs in women’s reproductive organs, and as a result, you experience a shooting pain in the vagina.

Caused by bacteria, the first organ affected is the vagina.  Later the infection travels to other pelvic organs as well.  PID can cause severe damage to the uterus, Fallopian tubes and ovaries.  PID may lead to infertility, severe vaginal pain and even ectopic pregnancy.

Though a common problem, it is life-threatening. So if you suspect this condition or have the symptoms of this disease contact a doctor immediately.  In case your condition is not curable by antibiotics, the doctor may advise surgery.

Trichomonas Vaginal infection:

The Trichomonas parasite affects many women causing a SIT disease called Trichomonas Vaginalis Infection.    This infection is not very common.

If you develop this infection, you will experience white or grey vaginal discharge outside menstruation, itching, burning sensation in the vaginal region and Sharp pain inside Vagina.

Child Birth:

You must have had a safe and successful delivery.  Doctors must have pronounced condition of you and your child as stable.  You are happy and ready to get out of the hospital.

Just when you are all set to take your baby home, you may feel severe pain in the vagina.  This is common and occurs due to stretching of the birth canal.

A temporary problem, you can solve it by using temporary techniques like a hot or cold pack, using pillows or taking painkillers with doctor’s advice.

Injuries:

Injuries due to sports can also cause vaginal pain.  Horse riding, Gymnastics, martial arts, water skiing could all cause vaginal injury if not done in the right way.  You know you have injured your Vagina if the following symptoms occur during your sports activity:

  • Tears in the genital region:
  • Bleeding
  • Painful urination
  • Foul smelling discharge
  • Sharp pain in Vagina
Menopause:

Menopause means a decrease in estrogen hormone.  The vaginal walls get thinner and dry; this condition is called vaginal atrophy.  This may lead to itching, irritation and a Sharp pain in Vagina.

Lichen Sclerosus:

This is a chronic disease that causes sharp pain in Vaginal area.  This is a common phenomenon of postmenopausal women.

Lichen Sclerosis can cause sharp pain in vagina, pain during sex and dryness around the vagina.  White patches are formed around the vulva sometimes scarring the vaginal region permanently.

It is better to see a doctor for relief.  Treatment involves usage of topical steroids.

Surgery:

Sharp pain in vagina is experienced after certain surgeries due to the trauma caused.

Vaginal Cancer:

It is a very uncommon disease and occurs due to the malignant growth of cells in the vagina.  It is of two types  -Squamous cell carcinoma and Adenocarcinoma.  The disease is characterized by pain in Vagina.

Chemical irritants:

Many chemicals come in contact with the vagina due to different reasons.  These include creams, condoms, douches, detergents from a cloth material, soaps, contraceptive foams, scented products, fabric softeners and more.

These products irritate skin and cause damage.  If the irritant is not removed at the earliest, it can cause sharp pain in Vagina.

Pelvic Prolapse:

In this condition either the bladder or uterus drops from its position to a lower area like the Vaginal canal.   This leads to extreme vaginal and back pain as the displaced organ exerts pressure in the area. Pain is also experienced during sex.

This condition usually occurs in older women.  Doctors advise pelvis strengthening exercises or surgery as per the severity of the condition.

Problems on the pelvic floor:

Bladder, Rectum and uterus are all located in the Pelvic region of our body. They are supported by the pelvic muscles.   These muscles support urination, bowel movements and childbirth.

When these muscles get damaged, you may experience a sharp pain in vagina.

 15 Symptoms of Sharp Pain in Vagina:

Pain in Vagina should not be taken lightly.  Contact your doctor immediately if you experience the following:

  • Severe pain in Vagina
  • Itching, rawness, urge to scratch
  • There is unbearable vaginal odour
  • Urine is foul smelling
  • You have to urinate rather frequently
  • Bleeding in between periods
  • Bleeding after periods have stopped
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Chills
  • Fever due to Sharp Pain in Vagina
  • Dizziness/fainting/Nausea
  • Pain during urination
  • Pain while having sex
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Diagnosis of sharp pain in vagina:

The cause of Sharp pain in vagina is determined through:

  • Physical examination
  • Tests of vaginal discharge for microbes
  • Endoscopy

Characteristics of pain in vagina:

  • Intensity may be sharp, stabbing or dull pain.
  • Can originate from abdomen, pelvis or vagina.
  • Could be due to periods
  • Could occur in the morning, evening or night

10 Treatment techniques for Sharp Pain in Vagina:

If the pain in vagina is mild, you can try some home remedies to get relief.  In case the pain has serious connotations,  doctors advise topical creams, antidepressants, anti convulsants and even surgery.  Here is a list of treatments advised for Sharp pain in Vagina….

Medication:

Doctors may prescribe some drugs to manage pain.  These include

  1. Topical Estrogen creams
  2. Topical or local anaesthetics
  3. Tricyclic antidepressants
  4. Anticonvulsants
  • Problems like Vaginosis and Sexually Transmitted disease are treated using antibiotics and antiparasitics
  • Antifungal medications can treat infections caused by Yeast. They are in the form of ointments, oral tablets and suppositories.  Though these are OTC drugs, it should be taken only on the advice of a doctor.
  • Estrogen creams are given to Estrogen depleted menopausal women.
  • Steroid cream can give relief in case of lichen sclerosis

Medicines give temporary relief to the patients.

Physical Therapy:

Depending on your previous medical history your doctor might advise physical therapy.  The therapist first determines the cause of pain.  He will check if the pain is due to pelvic weakness or tightness.  Some of the techniques that may be adopted are joint mobilisation, ultrasound and trigger pain release.

Interferon Injections:

Interferon injection is injected into the nerves near affected areas so that they do not send pain signals to the brain.

Surgery:

If the pain in Vagina is caused due to damage to a particular tissue/organ, the doctor might suggest a corresponding surgery for the same.

For example, if you are affected by vulvas vestibulitis syndrome, you may have to undergo surgical removal of the tissue located n the hymeneal ring.

Surgery is also suggested if there is scarring or a lesion in the area where pain originates.

TENS:

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Simulation is among the various treatments prescribed by doctors to decimate vaginal pain.  Nerves are stimulated through electrical signals thereby reducing the intensity of pain.

Alternative medicine:

One can choose Alternative treatment modes to get relief from the Shooting pain in Vagina.  Some people have found relief through Acupuncture, Aromatherapy and Meditation.

Biofeedback training:

Specialists use electrodes to check the Pelvic floor for its weakness or tightness.  These electrodes check muscular activity in the pelvic region.  Based on the results, your doctor can teach you exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor so that the pain does not recur.

Psychotherapy:

Previous experiences determine how a brain reacts to pain.  You can take the help of a Psychologist to manage vaginal pain and experience positive thoughts so that your day to day activity is not affected when you.

Home Remedies for Vaginal pain:

Some of the following home remedies to reduce your pain are:

  • Hot packs or pads can be placed in the affected area to improve blood circulation and thereby to relieve pain
  • Soaking in a sitz bath
  • Applying ice packs on the affected area
  • Use of vaginal moisturizer before sex can help reduce pain and irritation caused due to vaginal dryness
  • Avoid scratching in the area to reduce inflammation.
Lifestyle changes:

Some lifestyle changes are to reduce sharp pain in vagina and overall health

  • You can change to milder and unscented soaps and detergents.
  • Cleaning the area with cool water after urination or sexual activity
  • Wearing clean and loose-fitting underwear
  • Maintaining genital  organ cleanliness
  • People with vaginal pain should preferably avoid cycling or other activities that may aggravate pain
  • Avoid smoking and in taking excessive alcohol
  • Those who lack physical activity should indulge in minor activity to keep the blood circulation going.
  • Avoid food like beans, nuts and chocolate that irritate genital organs
  • Avoid douches as they may cause infection.
  • In case Sharp pain in vagina remains for longer-term sexual activity could be avoided

Sharp pain in Vagina goes away in a short period.  Small lifestyle changes like changing the type of clothes, avoiding sex for a certain period, avoiding certain foods and maintaining hygiene could do the trick.

But if the pain persists, it is an indicator of serious problems which only the doctor can solve. Careful observation and follow-up action after a doctor’s visit can solve this problem once for all.

References:
  1. https://www.medicinenet.com/vaginal_pain_vulvodynia/article.htm
  2. https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/vaginal-cramps
  3. http://www.foxnews.com/health/2015/03/23/10-treatments-for-vaginal-pain.html
  4. https://www.buoyhealth.com/symptoms-a-z/mild-vaginal-pain/
  5. https://www.webmd.com/women/guide/vaginal-itching-burning-irritation#1

 

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