What happens to your vagina after you have kids? An OBGYN answers 16 of your most pressing questions
This month, Pure Dating App and Stix came together to create our Sexual Health Questionnaire. You might wonder, why did we partner with a dating app? To educate our community and theirs! We wanted to provide a space where you could anonymously get answers to any question you’ve been too nervous to ask, and get medically accurate answers! Plus, being equipped with all the sexual health knowledge sets you up to have better sex. So we asked (and answered), what questions about sexual health have you been too afraid to ask your OBGYN?
What are the side effects of an IUD?
Progestin IUDs, such as Mirena and Kyleena, can cause irregular periods or no periods at all. In fact, half of women will stop getting a period altogether with progestin IUDs, and the ones that do will typically have a much lighter period, such as spotting. Additionally, you may experience ovarian cysts, abdominal pain and cramping, pelvic pain, headaches, vaginal discharge, and increased chance of vulvovaginal infections, such as BV (bacterial vaginosis) and yeast. Because there is such a small amount of hormone in the progestin IUDs, we don’t often see systemic symptoms such as weight gain, mood changes, etc., although it is not impossible.
Can an IUD cause you to gain weight?
Weight gain is a possible side effect of progestin IUDs, but is not very common. It is more common you’ll have some water retention and bloating, but not true weight gain and increase in fat. Weight gain is not seen with the non-hormonal IUD, Paragard.
Can you get yeast infections or BV from a partner? So many women have stated they had issues with the two until they left their ex.
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) and yeast are not considered STIs (sexually transmitted infections), however men can carry BV-causing bacteria and yeast on their genitals. Therefore, sometimes this can be passed sexually. Men cannot get BV, but they can get yeast infections. If a female partner is getting recurrent infections, it is suggested to have her partner treated. Vaginal probiotics can help balance the vaginal microbiome and prevent recurrent yeast and bacterial infections.
Should I be tested for STDs in my mouth? Why aren't I being tested for STI's in my mouth when it's more likely that I haven't used protection for oral sex than vaginal sex?
Many STIs that can be transmitted via penile-vaginal penetration can also cause oral and anal infections. Examples of these STIs include chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, HPV and syphilis. If you are tested vaginally and come back positive for an STI and are then treated, theoretically the infection should then clear up elsewhere it is occuring in your body. However, if you are having symptoms of sore throat, bumps in your throat and on your tongue, swollen glands, and difficulty swallowing and you are also concerned for STI, it is worth talking to your provider about being tested.
Is it normal that my vagina smells like urine/sweat all the time, even though it's apparently perfectly healthy?
It is very common for the vulva to have an odor. Many times women will think if there is an odor “down there” that this means infection, but this is not necessarily the case. It is common to sweat in the groin, especially when exercising or in a hot environment. If you are hot, sweaty and/or if you have not showered in a day or two, you will notice a sweaty odor. It is also common for the vulva to smell like urine as sometimes drops of urine will end up leaking out throughout the day or there will be ammonia from the urine left behind after wiping. If the sweaty odor is bothering you, you can try deodorants made specifically for the groin and inner thighs, such as Lume.
How do you get out of a "dry spell"? Sometimes I want to have sex but it'll be uncomfortable and turn me off.
“Dry spells” are very common and many people will experience them at different times throughout life. Dry spells can be caused by many different factors. For example, you may feel less of a sex drive if you are having relationship issues. You may feel less of a sex drive if you are very stressed, working a lot and not sleeping well. Mental health issues are closely linked to low sex drive. Additionally, many medications can cause low libido. If you are having discomfort during intercourse, this is not normal and you should go see an OBGYN for a vaginal exam to determine the cause of the discomfort. Many causes of vaginal discomfort during intercourse can be easily treated.
Does plan b work if you’re not on birth control? What protection should I use if I’m not on birth control?
Plan B, or any other morning-after pill, is 1 pill taken by mouth and it should be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, however the sooner it is taken the better. Plan B is up to 89% effective. If not taking birth control, it is better to use condoms with each sexual encounter to prevent both pregnancy and STIs.
Are there any consequences from sex outside of STIs?
The main two outcomes of unprotected intercourse are STI transmission and pregnancy. Many women will also experience UTIs and vaginal infections, such as BV and yeast, as a result of intercourse. It is important to also ensure that you’re having open communication with your partner and engaging in consensual intercourse. If non-consensual intercourse, such as rape or assault occurs, this can lead to emotional distress, depression, chronic pain, low libido and more.
Is it normal for it to burn when I pee after sex? Even with a monogamous partner of over a year.
Some women will experience discomfort with urination immediately after sex. The urethra (tube and opening where the urine flows out of) is located right at the front of the vaginal opening and can become irritated with penetrative sex, oral sex or digital (finger) stimulation. You can try using a fragrance free lubricant, such as KY Jelly, that can decrease friction if you are feeling dry and may help prevent irritation. You can try different positions that may cause less rubbing directly onto the urethra. If the discomfort does not resolve immediately, it is best to see an OBGYN for an exam.
Is it normal to go from never getting wet to getting very wet all the time?
The amount of vaginal lubrication you produce can vary depending on multiple factors. For example, if you have a vaginal infection, such as yeast, it is much more likely you will experience dryness and not produce as much lubrication. You may produce different amounts of lubricant depending on the time in your cycle and your hydration status. If you are dehydrated, you may not produce as much lubrication. Also, of course, your arousal level will often dictate the amount of lubricant you produce. It is okay to produce more lubrication, but if you are having any itching, odor, or pain, this could be a sign of infection and you should talk to your OBGYN.
What happens to your vagina after you have kids? Will your vagina ever be the same after giving birth?
After giving birth vaginally, vaginal laxity is extremely common. The vagina and vaginal opening may feel looser, softer, wider and more open. This can occur for months up to a year postpartum, but over time the laxity should improve. You can work on strengthening your pelvic floor and doing kegel exercises, which can help improve the laxity. Additionally, there are vaginal lasers and cosmetic procedures, such as vaginoplasty that can help with laxity in severe cases, especially if you are experiencing pain or lack of pleasure during sexual activity.
What do white blisters around the penis shaft mean?
White bumps on the penis can occur for a number of reasons.
Fordyce Spots are pale, white or yellow spots that are completely benign and may grow on the lips, inside of cheeks, penis, scrotum or vulva.
Pearly penile papules are clusters of pale, white or yellow raised spots that occur around the head of the penis. They are completely benign.
Pimples or clogged pores can cause whitish appearing bumps around the penis.
Men can get yeast infections too! This can occur both from sex and not. This can cause itching, redness, swelling and sometimes foul-smelling discharge and small, rash-like bumps that often have pus inside of them.
Genital warts are caused by HPV and can occur on the anus, penis and vulva. They are typically flesh-colored protrusions that have a cauliflower-like appearance to them and are not usually flat. You should go see a doctor if you suspect you have genital warts.
Syphilis can cause ulcer- appearing lesions to the penis. The initial ulcer that occurs after infection can last for a few weeks. You should go see a doctor if you have a penile ulcer that is not going away, and avoid intercourse.
Genital herpes (HSV-1 and HSV-2) appear like flat yellowish ulcers with surrounding redness most commonly. They occur in clusters and can be itchy and painful. This can occur on the base of the penis or the shaft, as well as the anus and vulva. If you suspect you have herpes, you should notify your doctor, and avoid intercourse.
Chlamydia can cause bumps in men that can be red, yellow or white and are typically raised. You will often have other symptoms, such as burning, itching and pain. Women typically do not experience these bumps. If you suspect you have chlamydia, you should notify your doctor, and avoid intercourse.
Molluscum contagiosum (also called molluscum) is a virus that can be transmitted sexually or by coming in contact with virus-infected skin. It causes pearly-appearing flesh colored bumps with a central depression. The bumps are usually clustered together. It usually does not cause pain or itching. Molluscum can occur anywhere on the body, but when on the penis, vulva or anus, it is considered an STI. Molluscum often goes away on its own but can take months. Many people will get molluscum treated to speed up the healing process. If you suspect you have molluscum, you should notify your doctor, and avoid intercourse.
Bottom line is anything new on the penis, should be evaluated by a doctor! Talk to your partner if you are concerned about something you see during sexual activity.
Why is it hard for women to orgasm?
There is a misconception that men always orgasm and women orgasm much less frequently. Men often have difficulty orgasming, getting an erection or maintaining an erection, as well. It is important to know what you like when it comes to sex and communicate that to your partner. Our partner cannot read our mind! Most women, about 70% in fact, cannot orgasm from penetration alone and need clitoral stimulation either during sex or before/after sex. The orgasm is not just physical and emotions/relaxation plays a big role in it. It is often much easier to orgasm, for both men and women, when you are relaxed, feel comfortable and are happy. It is important to explore your own body to find out what you like and then communicate that to your partner.
What is a Pap smear and when should I get one?
A Pap smear is a screening for cervical cancer. This is done at a primary care office or at an OBGYN office, typically during an annual exam. The cervix will be visualized using a speculum to look inside the vagina and cells will be gently and quickly scraped from the cervix. This test should be started at age 21 regardless of if you’re sexually active or not. This should be done every 3-5 years, but can be done more frequently, if needed.
What do I do if my partner is giving me UTIs?
If you feel you are getting recurrent UTIs after intercourse, it is important to go to the OBGYN and have your urine tested to ensure that you are, in fact, getting UTIs. You may experience discomfort after intercourse that can feel like a UTI, but is not. Also, many women will have vaginal infections that can cause urinary symptoms but are not UTIs. If you are having recurrent UTIs, it is helpful to use a urinary or vaginal probiotic that can balance your microbiome and prevent infections. You should always urinate right after intercourse, oral sex or digital penetration (fingering) to help flush the urethra. If you are, in fact, having UTIs recurrently after intercourse, vaginal estrogen may help prevent infections. Also, you can take antibiotics immediately after sex to help prevent bacterial growth. Talk to your provider!
Is squirting pee?
There is no consensus as to what the fluid that is released during squirting actually is. It is thought it is likely a mix of urine and vaginal secretions. Most women do not squirt, but a minority will. Squirting can occur both during orgasm and not.