Feeling sore after sexual activity is normal and can be caused by a number of things. A healthcare professional can help diagnose the cause and recommend appropriate treatment and management strategies.
Mild pain after sex is usually improved with rest, over-the-counter pain relievers, and incorporating regular stretching and strengthening exercises into your routine.
Muscle strain or fatigue
If you experience leg pain after sex, it could be due to muscle strain. This condition is also known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and is caused by microscopic damage to muscle fibers and is typically mild and temporary. Rest and gentle stretching can help relieve symptoms.
Alternatively, leg pain may be due to cramps. This is a common symptom of dehydration or electrolyte imbalances and is often triggered by intense or prolonged muscle exertion. It is recommended to drink water and eat foods rich in electrolytes to prevent cramping.
Finally, some women experience pain after sex because of pelvic floor dysfunction. Dysfunction in the muscles that support the bladder and rectum can lead to pressure on the nerves, which can result in leg pain. Working with a physical therapist that specializes in pelvic floor rehab can help address these issues.
If your leg pain is severe or accompanied by other concerning symptoms, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional to rule out an underlying medical condition. Treatment of the underlying condition can reduce or eliminate your leg pain after sexual activity.
Varicose veins are twisted, dilated veins near the surface of the skin. They may cause pain or tenderness in the legs and feet. Varicose veins are often hereditary, and hormonal changes can increase your risk for developing them. Pregnancy, use of birth control pills or HRT, and aging can also increase your chance for developing them.
If you have varicose veins, your doctor can treat them with noninvasive methods. These include wearing compression stockings, exercising, and raising your legs when sitting or lying down to help blood flow more easily. Some doctors also offer a minimally invasive procedure called sclerotherapy. This involves injecting a chemical that causes the walls of the affected vein to seal. Over time, the enlarged veins will disappear.
If you have severe leg pain, a clot in the deep vein in your leg (DVT), or any other serious condition, consult a medical professional for a thorough evaluation and treatment. If your leg pain after sex is recurrent or worsening, get immediate medical attention. The symptoms of DVT are leg pain, swelling, and redness.
Many hormone changes can cause leg muscles to become tight and sore after sexual activity. Pregnancy and menopause are two common times for women to feel sore after sex. During pregnancy, a woman’s body releases hormones that promote relaxation and loosening of the ligaments in preparation for a baby. These hormones may also increase blood volume and pressure in the legs, which can lead to pain after sex. Regular leg exercises and stretching can help reduce leg muscle strain or fatigue. Using water-based lubricant may help decrease friction on the vagina and the surrounding muscles.
Some sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like chlamydia, herpes, and gonorrhea can cause irritation in the vulva or pelvic area. If this irritation becomes a chronic issue, you should see a healthcare provider to receive treatment. Treatment may include antibiotics or other medications to ease irritation. Hormonal disorders such as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can also affect muscle function and lead to leg pain after sex. Medications such as hormone replacement therapy can alleviate these symptoms in some cases.
During the natural aging process, the spinal discs degenerate and can begin to bulge. This can pinch or compress the nerves as they exit the spine. This condition is called radiculopathy. It can cause pain, weakness or numbness in the legs. It is usually found in the neck (cervical spine), upper back (thoracic spine) or lower back (lumbar spine). It can be diagnosed by a physical exam and history of symptoms along with imaging studies.
Vigorous sexual activity can sometimes dislodge a blood clot from the deep veins, resulting in leg pain, swelling or redness. It can also contribute to the development of a blood clot in these deep veins, a condition known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
A healthcare professional may recommend warm-up and stretching exercises for the muscles of the legs before engaging in sexual activity. These exercises should focus on stretches and strength-training exercises that target the muscle groups in the legs, including the quadriceps, hamstrings and calves. In addition, a healthcare professional can recommend medications that help reduce muscle tension or nerve pain.
Emotional stress and anxiety can manifest physically as pain or discomfort during sexual activity. For some people, counseling or therapy can be helpful in addressing these issues to help alleviate pain after sexual activity.
Regular exercise that strengthens leg muscles, improves cardiovascular health, and promotes healthy circulation can help to prevent and reduce leg pain after sexual activity. Using a water-based lubricant can enhance comfort during sexual activity, minimizing friction that can lead to leg soreness. Proper footwear and supportive orthotic inserts can also help. Managing pre-existing conditions such as varicose veins, venous insufficiency, and musculoskeletal problems through treatment recommendations and lifestyle changes can also have positive effects on leg pain after sexual activity.
Supplementing with vitamins and minerals can enhance muscle function and support healthy blood circulation in the legs.