The spontaneity and playfulness of sex can also result in some pretty unfortunate accidents. It doesn’t help that arousal raises your pain tolerance, making it difficult to tell in the moment how rough is too rough. Remember, sex should not hurt— but, as with all physical activities, there are bound to be some bumps and bruises along the way, especially if you get a little too, um, excited.

Here are some of the most common bedroom-related injuries, and how you can treat them (or avoid them in the first place). Stay safe, bbs. 

1. Hickeys 

How it happens: 

A hickey is a bruise caused by suction, in which tiny blood vessels under your skin burst. You can get a hickey anywhere, but they show up the most on your neck because the skin there is so thin and delicate.

How to treat it: 

If you can treat a hickey right away, you have a chance of helping it heal faster. Otherwise, all you can do is wait for it to fade on its own. If you notice a hickey forming, use a cold compress to reduce swelling and redness. Try placing a metal spoon in the refrigerator or freezer for a few minutes before applying it to your hickey. Apply aloe vera gel to the area to allow its anti-inflammatory properties to soothe any pain and swelling. There are many myths about rubbing a hickey to “redistribute the blood,” but do not do this because it can actually make it worse. Instead, apply firm, steady pressure to slow blood flow to the site and reduce the size of the bruise. 

2. Vaginal soreness

How it happens: 

Probably the most ubiquitous sex-related injury, vaginal soreness is caused by a super common problem: lack of lubrication. Without enough lube (natural or from a tube), the friction from penetration or particularly rough sex can easily irritate the sensitive skin around the vulva and in the vagina. 

How to treat it: 

Soreness will heal with time (because vaginas are magical self-healing organs), but you have to stop whatever it is that caused the soreness. To treat a tender or achy vagina, try both warm and cold remedies. You can take a warm bath in Epsom salts to relax your muscles and reduce inflammation. However, steer clear of any scented bath bombs or oils, which can upset your vaginal pH or irritate your skin further.

You should always avoid scented products near your vagina, but those chemicals can especially aggravate sore skin. A cold compress can also help soothe soreness — put ice cubes in a thick washcloth or plastic bag and rest that on the outside of your underwear for 10-15 minutes. Do not put ice inside your vagina, as that will only cause further irritation. Wear cotton underwear so that your vagina can breathe, or nothing at all under loose clothing. If natural remedies fail, take an over-the-counter painkiller like ibuprofen. To prevent soreness in the future, make sure you are adequately lubricated and start gently and slowly before transitioning into rougher, faster sex (if that’s what you’re into). 

3. Vaginal or anal tears

How it happens: 

Another side effect of not being lubricated enough during sex is small tears in your vagina or anus caused by friction (obvi depends on what kind of sex you are having). These tears not only hurt, but can also make you more prone to infection, especially in the anus. Most tears are small and heal quickly on their own, but if a cut gets bigger or keeps bleeding, talk to a healthcare provider.

How to treat it :

You can actually put lube in your vagina or anus after sex to soothe and moisturize your skin. Just make sure your lube does not have any alcohol in it so that you do not irritate it further. As I mentioned before, keep avoiding scented products as well. To prevent tears in the future, make sure you are adequately lubricated. This is especially important for anal sex, since the anus is not self-lubricating like the vagina. Also make sure your partner has cut, filed, and cleaned their nails. 

4. Muscle cramps

How it happens: 

As with any physical activity, it is possible to get a muscle injury during sex. Thighs and calves tend to be the most prone to cramping, but muscle pain depends on what kind of position you are in. 

How to treat it: 

Muscle cramps will heal over time, but you can ease aches and pain by walking around, stretching out the muscle, and using cold and warm remedies. Apply an ice pack to relieve inflammation, then, once the inflammation subsides, use a heating pad or take a warm bath with Epsom salts to soothe your muscles. If all else fails, take an over-the-counter painkiller like ibuprofen and rest. To avoid muscle cramps in the future, try switching positions frequently or taking breaks so that your body is not in one pose for too long. Experts suggest spending the first five minutes in a position with your legs shoulder-width apart to warm up. If you are not able to stretch before sex, you can increase your overall flexibility by adding some stretching or yoga into your daily routine. 

5. Skin irritation 

How it happens: 

All that movement during sex can easily lead to chafing and irritation. Rug burn is caused by friction from sex on any sort of rough surface. It can sting and leave your skin red, scratched, and tender. Chafing also commonly occurs on the labia, clit, or in the vagina, especially if your partner has scratchy facial or body hair. 

How to treat it: 

Wash the infected area with cool water and antibacterial soap and cover with a bandage to prevent infection. If you have a cut, clean it with antiseptic and apply antibacterial cream before putting on a bandage. To prevent rug burn, put down a soft towel or blanket before getting busy. To avoid beard or body hair burn, use lots of lube. Hair is the least likely to irritate when it is clean-shaven or grown long, so be especially careful during the stubbly in-between phase. Your partner can also condition their facial or body hair with oil. 

6. Allergic reaction

How it happens: 

Some people are allergic or sensitive to latex, or other chemicals in condoms or lube. Just like any other allergic reaction, your skin will become red and sensitive. 

How to treat it: 

Allergic reactions should heal by themselves, but while you wait you can place an ice pack outside your underwear for 10-15 minutes at a time. Talk to a healthcare provider to confirm whether you are allergic or sensitive to latex or other chemicals. If you are, avoid these in the future and talk to your provider about alternatives. 

7. Bruised cervix

How it happens: 

A bruised cervix occurs when your cervix gets “bumped” during penetration, resulting in bruising and cramping. Most people will feel cramping afterwards, but some feel it during sex, as if your partner is hitting a very painful wall. Tenderness in the lower abdomen 12 to 48 hours after sex, or bleeding or spotting when you are not menstruating is usually a sign of a bruised cervix. A bruised cervix is most common with people who have a tipped uterus that goes back towards the tailbone. This means that the cervix is pointing upwards during sex and is easier to bump. Your cervix is also more vulnerable to bruising depending on where you are in your cycle and how aroused you are.

If you are not on hormonal birth control, your cervix moves throughout your cycle — when you are ovulating, your cervix is softer and located higher up in the vaginal canal, whereas right before, during, and after menstruation your cervix is lower and harder. Even if you are on hormonal birth control, your vaginal canal expands based on how aroused you are. So if you are not very turned on before sex, your cervix will be lower, but if you are aroused, your vagina will have more room for penetration. Long story short, if your cervix is lower and harder (i.e. you are not aroused enough or it is the part of your cycle when you are closer to your period), it is easier to bruise. Bruising is also more likely if you are being penetrated by a larger than average partner or toy or having particularly vigorous sex.

How to treat it: 

Cervical bruising should resolve itself, but if pain continues or bleeding is heavy, talk to a healthcare provider. In the meantime, you can reduce inflammation with a warm bath, heating pad, or over-the-counter painkiller like ibuprofen. If you are particularly prone to cervical bruising, you can prevent pain by taking your arousal, cycle, and positions into account. Make sure you are adequately aroused before sex (hello, foreplay), especially on either end of your cycle. You can also track your cycle to figure out when your cervix is at its highest, softest point (usually 12 to 14 days after your period starts). Avoid positions that maximize penetration, like doggy style or positions where your legs are in the air. Go for more shallow penetration positions, or top positions where you can control movement. Reposition or stop having sex if you experience pelvic pressure or pain. 

8. Piercing rips

How it happens:

Again, all that movement during sex can be potentially dangerous, especially if you have piercings, whether they are in your ears or in more, ahem, delicate places. If a piercing catches on something, it can easily get ripped out of the skin, causing tears. 

How to treat it:

Rips are most likely to occur during the healing process, while the piercing channel is still forming, so be extra careful during the period. If you have a genital piercing, follow your piercer’s instructions as to what types of sexual activity to avoid while you heal. If a piercing hurts or you feel a ripping sensation during sex, change positions or stop. If your piercing has been ripped out, sterilize the area with antibacterial soap and warm water, and apply an antibiotic cream. Small tears should heal on their own, for larger rips consult a healthcare provider or piercer.

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