What causes sore vagina?

Infections and skin disorders may cause sore vagina. Disease or injury to any of the structures in the vulvar region can also result in sore vagina. In addition, sore vagina can be caused by underlying conditions that involve the body as a whole or the pelvic organs specifically.

Common causes of sore vagina

Sore vagina may have common causes including:

  • Allergic reactions to birth control products, such as latex or foams
  • History of surgical procedures in the vulva region
  • Injury from sexual abuse
  • Irritation to vulvar region nerves
  • Rashes in the vulvar region
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Skin irritation from chemicals, such as detergent, soap, and feminine hygiene products
  • Vaginal dryness after menopause
  • Vaginismus (involuntary muscle spasms of the vaginal wall)
  • Yeast infections

Gynecologic causes of sore vagina

Sore vagina can also be caused by conditions that affect the genital organs including:

  • Endometriosis (presence of uterine lining tissue outside the uterus)
  • Ovarian cysts or tumors
  • Uterine fibroids or benign tumors

Serious or life-threatening causes of sore vagina

In some cases, sore vagina may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated by a health care provider. These include:

  • Cancers of the vagina, uterus, cervix, or other adjacent organs
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID, an infection of a woman’s reproductive organs)

Questions for diagnosing the cause of sore vagina

To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will ask you several questions related to your sore vagina including:

  • Do you have any other symptoms?
  • How long have you felt sore vagina?
  • What medications are you taking?
  • When do you feel sore vagina?
  • Have you had abnormal bleeding?

What are the potential complications of sore vagina?

The potential complications of sore vagina depend on their cause. Getting prompt treatment of injuries or infections can help you avoid serious complications, such as deformity or widespread infection. Sore vagina associated with serious medical conditions may have long-term and even potentially life-threatening complications. Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care professional design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential problems. Left untreated, conditions that cause sore vagina may lead to the following complications:

  • Abscess
  • Infertility
  • Sepsis (life-threatening bacterial blood infection)
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Spread of cancer
  • Spread of infection


  1. Vulvodynia. ACOG American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/Resources_And_Publications/Committee_Opinions/Committee_on_Gynecologic_Practice/... .
  2. Chronic pelvic pain. ACOG American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. https://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq099.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20140530T1120557802 .
  3. Domino FJ (Ed.) Five Minute Clinical Consult. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2013.

What is sore vagina?

Sore vagina is pain or discomfort in the genitals. Some women describe it as a raw sensation or a burning, itching or stinging feeling. The symptoms may range in intensity from mild to severe, and they may improve or worsen with movement or sexual activity. Symptoms caused by injury often have a sudden onset. Other symptoms may develop slowly, such those related to infectious disease.

Read more about sore vaginaintroduction


What other symptoms might occur with sore vagina?

Sore vagina may accompany other symptoms that vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that frequently affect the vagina may also involve other body systems.

Vulvar symptoms that may occur along with sore vagina

Sore vagina may accompany other symptoms affecting the vulvar region including:

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: May 7, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.