You’ve just had incredible sex, and now you want to bask in the postcoital haze. In that moment, you’re hyper-aware of your body’s response to what transpired. Your head feels deliciously foggy. A warm current seems to course through your arms and legs. And your stomach feels… uh, distended? Yep, sometimes the feeling following sex is more bloating than glowing. If you’ve ever experienced bloating after sex, though, you’re not alone. The good news is that while it definitely doesn’t feel sexy, bloating after sex is pretty normal (even if it is super annoying).
Before you try to find a way to alleviate your discomfort — like brewing a cup of ginger tea or taking OTC medicine — it’s a good idea to figure out why your tummy is acting up. From your period to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) to what you ate before having sex, there are many potential reasons for your discomfort. Physical intimacy like sex, or orgasming if you’re flying solo, involves your entire body; it makes sense that GI issues might be among the body’s many responses.
However, there are several possible explanations to consider the next time sex makes your stomach (temporarily) swell.
Why do I experience bloating after sex?
Here are some of the most popular reasons you might be experiencing bloating after sex and what you can do to ease your tummy troubles. Of course, as with any medical issue, it’s always best to consult with your physician if you’re concerned.
1. The Position of Your Uterus
If you have a retroverted uterus (which means the uterus is tilted backward), you will experience bloating and gas. Why? Because sex can cause your uterus to move and make contact with other organs surrounding it. About 30% of people with a uterus have a retroverted uterus, and there’s only one way to find out if you do — by booking a pelvic exam with your doctor. If you have a retroverted uterus, try experimenting with different sex positions and angles to find a comfortable one that doesn’t cause postcoital discomfort.
2. Digestive Issues
If you have a history of gut issues, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), food intolerances, indigestion, and constipation, then that might be a reason why you’re experiencing bloating after sex. Symptoms of IBS and/or food intolerances include diarrhea, abdominal pain, cramping, and constipation. To avoid any gut-related issues, it’s a good idea to avoid potentially gassy foods like beans, legumes, and cruciferous veggies (like broccoli and brussel sprouts) before sex. Sipping on ginger or peppermint tea can help reduce the pain and the bloat.
3. Your Period
It’s normal to feel a little bloated around your period. If you’ve just finished your period or you’re still menstruating (and enjoying a little period sex), then bloating after sex is pretty normal since hormone fluctuations can cause us to feel a little full and uncomfortable around that time of the month. Drink lots of water and avoid high-sodium foods to help reduce period bloating.
4. Your Sex Positions
Sometimes our favorite sex positions that feel so good in the moment might not feel so good later. Positions like doggy style and missionary that require deeper penetration can cause abdominal pain. Try less penetrative positions like cowgirl or spooning that can be less painful.
5. Your Emotions
Having sex can be an emotional experience. If you’re experiencing any type of stress and anxiety before or during sex, your abdominal and pelvic muscles can tense up and/or lead to digestive issues that can leave you feeling uncomfortable and bloated. Trying to remain in a peaceful and calm state — taking a few deep breaths — might ease your mind.
6. Unprotected sex
Having unprotected sex with someone who has a penis might also be the reason behind your bloating. Semen contains prostaglandin, a type of lipid typically released in tissues in times of injuries, inflammation, infection, and menstruation. When semen enters your vagina, it can cause uterine contraction and discomfort, which might explain your bloating after sex. To avoid this, you can ask your partner to wear a condom or pull out before they ejaculate. Note: An allergy to latex (which is found in many types of condoms) can also cause bloating and discomfort.
Experiencing gas pain can result from what you ate before sex and/or swallowing too much air, like chewing gum. It can also result from penetrative sex that pushes air into the vagina or anus, leading to gas pains in the abdomen when it becomes trapped. Once you expel gas (TMI!), you will feel better.
***Oddly enough, orgasms can also be the culprit behind post coital discomfort. When you cum, your pelvic muscles contract, which can cause painful muscle spasms in your lower abdomen and pelvis. This is called dysorgasmia and is usually common in people with ovarian cysts, pelvic floor issues, or endometriosis.
When is bloating after sex a cause for concern?
Typically, bloating after sex isn’t anything to worry about. However, if you regularly experience stomach pain and discomfort after sex, have a fever, experience any bleeding, and/or experience extreme pain, you should consult with a doctor as soon as possible.
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