Can Masturbation Cause Cramps and Discomfort?

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

What’s the short answer?

Yes, masturbation can cause cramps and discomfort for various reasons. Some of these are NBD, but some may require treatment.

Is it a sign of orgasm?

It could be!

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Different types of orgasms can cause cramping and discomfort in the pelvis, abdomen, back, and rectum.

During orgasm, the pelvic floor muscles contract quickly and can cramp. This may cause pain in the lower abdomen and pelvis. You might even feel the pain in your lower back.

During an anal orgasm, some people experience intense cramping in and around the lower part of the rectum or anal canal. FYI, the clinical term for rectum pain is proctalgia fugax.

If you have a vulva

Folks with vulvas can get crampy after masturbation for a few reasons.

The position of your uterus

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Having a tilted uterus — specifically one that leans more to the back than the front — increases your chance of contact if your solo fun involves penetration.

The angle makes contact with the cervix more likely when you insert fingers or toys into the vagina. This can trigger cramping and aching that you might feel in the vagina, lower abdomen and pelvis, and lower back.

Where you are in your menstrual cycle

Periods and cramps are as common a combo as PB&J — especially during certain stages of your cycle.

Masturbation can be a good way to get some relief from cramps ~during~ play. But pressure on the cervix or uterine contractions during orgasm could actually worsen them after you’ve done the deed.

Ovulation

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Around 2 weeks before you get your period, your ovary releases an egg which travels down your fallopian tube in preparation for potential pregnancy. This is ovulation.

Ovulation doesn’t always hurt, but some people get cramps. During this time, you might also notice an increase in vaginal discharge or a change in its consistency to something slimier and stickier, kinda like egg whites.

Approaching or during menstruation

For most people who get periods, the days leading up to the start of a period and the first couple days after bleeding starts are the crampiest.

This is also when you’re likely to feel bloated, irritable, and just yucky overall. Good times.

The type of birth control you use

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IUDs can help with menstrual cramps in the long-term, but might actually worsen cramps while your uterus gets used to its new little friend.

Cramping after IUD insertion can last from a few days to a few months. You might feel cramps in your lower abdomen, back, or both. Other possible side effects are irregular periods and spotting between periods.

An underlying condition

If masturbation leads to cramping or discomfort more often than not, an underlying condition could be to blame.

Cysts or fibroids

Ovarian cysts and uterine fibroids don’t always cause symptoms. But they can, depending on their size and location. When they do, cramping during and after sex — of the solo variety, too — can occur.

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Cysts and fibroids can also cause other symptoms, like painful and heavy periods, irregular periods, back and leg pain, and pressure in your pelvis.

Endometriosis

Endometriosis happens when the endometrial tissue lining your uterus grows outside the uterus.

When you take a sex toy to V town or have an orgasm, severe cramping is common with endometriosis. You could experience other symptoms, too, like severe menstrual cramps, heavy periods, and trouble passing bowel movements.

If you have a penis

If you have a penis and experience discomfort or cramping after solo sex, your prostate could be to blame.

Prostatitis

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Prostatitis is inflammation of the prostate.

This walnut-sized gland sits low in your pelvis, just below your bladder and in front of your rectum. When stimulated with a finger or toy, it can be oh-so pleasurable and lead to a pretty fan-freaking-tastic orgasm.

If it’s inflamed, either because of some enthusiastic butt play, an infection, or a medical condition, it can cause pain.

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You might feel the pain in your penis, scrotum, perineum, and lower abdomen or back.

Pain during ejaculation is common, along with pain or other changes in urination.

Other common causes

There are some other common reasons why you might have cramps or discomfort after masturbation.

Let’s break ‘em down.

What you’re masturbating with

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Going to town on yourself with a sex toy that leans bigger or longer could put too much pressure on the cervix or prostate. This could cause cramping and pain.

The same goes for curved sex toys made for pleasuring the P-spot and G-spot, especially if you go in at an awkward angle.

How deep or rough masturbation is

Deep or rough masturbation may hurt so good during. But you could pay the price for that enthusiastic self-lovin’ by way of cramps and discomfort after.

Going in deep and hard can irritate or put too much pressure on the cervix or prostate, leading to temporary pain and possibly some bleeding.

How tight your pelvic floor is

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Tight pelvic floor muscles can cramp and cause discomfort during any kind of sex.

These muscles can tense for a few reasons, from overuse and trauma to anxiety, stress, and reproductive conditions.

Since your pelvic floor acts as a hammock for the bladder, uterus, rectum, and other pelvic organs, you might also notice other symptoms, like constipation, trouble holding urine, and pelvic pain.

Underlying stress, anxiety, or other mental health concern

Anxiety, stress, and other mental health concerns can make masturbation uncomfortable in a few ways.

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They can affect lubrication production and cause the muscles in and around the vagina, rectum, and abdomen to tense, causing pain during and after a solo sesh.

If you’re dealing with stress or another mental health issue, you might also have trouble sleeping, and notice irritability, sadness, and crying.

An underlying infection

Infections — sexually transmitted and otherwise —might also cause cramps and discomfort that are triggered or worsened by masturbation.

Yeast infection

Yeast infections aren’t just a V thing — they can affect the penis and anus, too.

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This fungal infection is more likely to cause intense itching and redness in and around the genitals or anus. But it can also cause abdominal cramping and make masturbation pretty uncomfortable.

You might also have thick, whitish, yeast-smelling discharge and a burning sensation when you pee.

Urinary tract infection

A urinary tract infection (UTI) can cause cramping and other pain in your pelvis and back that might feel worse after you masturbate.

If you have a UTI, the pain might also be accompanied by cloudy urine and a feeling like you still need to pee after you’ve emptied your bladder.

Sexually transmitted infection or pelvic inflammatory disease

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Some sexually transmitted infections (STIs), like gonorrhea and chlamydia, can cause cramping and pain during or after masturbation.

STIs can also cause pelvic inflammatory disease — or PID for short — in people with vaginas. PID can cause pain in your lower abdomen.

Along with cramping, STIs and PID might cause other symptoms, including:

  • sores, bumps, or rashes on or around the genitals or anus
  • genital or anal burning and itching
  • unusual discharge from the penis, vagina, or anus

An underlying condition

Sometimes, an underlying condition can cause cramping or discomfort when you masturbate.

Dysorgasmia

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Dysorgasmia is the clinical term for painful orgasm. It can impact all types of orgasms, including vulvar, penile, and anal orgasms.

There are physical, mental, emotional, and psychological factors that can cause painful orgasms.

The pain associated with dysorgasmia varies in intensity. It can involve shooting and stabbing pain at the height of climax or an aching and gnawing pain that comes on after an O.

Hernias

A hernia can cause pain during or after masturbation that might be felt in the abdomen, pelvis, or groin, depending on the type of hernia.

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Hernias occur when an organ pushes through an opening in the muscle or tissue that holds it in place.

Anything that involves straining or tensing of the area can cause a hernia to hurt, including masturbation, especially in standing or bent-over positions.

Depending on the type of hernia, you might also notice a lump in your groin or abdomen when standing or straining.

At what point should you see a healthcare professional?

Occasional discomfort, as long as it’s not too severe, is probably NBD. But anything more persistent or severe warrants a visit to a clinic.

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See a healthcare professional if:

  • your pain happens regularly or is severe
  • you had sex without a barrier and are at risk for an STI
  • you think you might be pregnant
  • you’re experiencing other physical or mental symptoms
  • you notice bleeding from the genital area

Is there anything you can do in the meantime to find relief?

You betcha!

Give these a go:

  • Change your technique or position.
  • Try a smaller or more flexible toy.
  • Apply a heating pad or soak in a hot bath to relieve pelvic, back, or abdominal cramps.
  • Take an over-the-counter (OTC) pain reliever if the pain persists.

What can you do to minimize future discomfort after masturbating?

You may be able to nip any post-masturbation cramps in the bud by doing the following:

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