In almost all cases, vaginal pain or discomfort is a symptom that requires attention. The phrase “vaginal pain” may include a wide range of issues. Some women may be referring to pain in the vulva while others may use the term to describe pain or discomfort in the vagina itself. Regardless of the terminology, any pain in the genital area should always be investigated by your doctor.

When considering the potential causes of the pain, think about the following:

  • When did the pain first start?
  • Have you experienced the pain before?
  • Is the pain associated with any unusual discharge? bleeding or pain in other areas?

The answers to these questions will help pinpoint the source of the problem. In general, common causes of vaginal pain include the following

Yeast infections

Yeast infections are usually caused by a naturally occurring fungus called candida albicans. A vaginal yeast infection is a fungal infection that causes irritation, discharge (which appears as thick, white clumps) and intense itchiness of the vagina and the vulva. Treatment for a yeast infection can be sought by using over-the-counter medications that are available at most pharmacies. If you have reason to suspec that the discharge may be the result of an STI, speak to your doctor immediately.

Bacterial vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis is a condition that results from a change of the normal bacteria found in the vagina. Essentially, good bacteria in the vagina are overgrown by bad bacteria. The discharge of bacterial vaginosis appears thin white or gray. It may also be accompanied by itching. Bacterial vaginosis may resolve on its own or require antibiotics.

Sexually transmitted infection (STI)

STI’s are highly contagious and can spread from vaginal or anal penetration, as well as oral sex. Left undiagnosed and untreated, STI’s can cause long-term complications to a woman’s reproductive system. Routine STI screening for infections like gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis is important. Consider comprehensive STI testing if:

  • Your partner has been diagnosed with an STI
  • Have an abnormal discharge from the vagina
  • Notice rashes or warts in the genital area
  • Experience burning, itching, or bumps near the genital area or inner thighs
  • As part of a routine yearly or twice-yearly screen
  • If you have started a relationship with a new partner

Vaginal dryness

Vaginal dryness is a symptom that is commonly associated with menopause. The vagina is normally lubricated. It naturally produces a thin clear layer of fluid that promotes a clean and healthy environment. Additionally, estrogen plays a role by maintaining the thickness of the vaginal lining, and keeping the tissues flexible. Taken together, all of this leads to a happy, healthy vagina that provides its own lubrication.

So when vaginal dryness occurs, it can lead to discomfort and itching. It can also interfere with your sex life


Endometriosis occurs when tissues that are usually found within the inside of the uterus begin to grow in other parts of the body such as the ovaries. In the vast majority of women, endometriosis has no symptoms. But in other circumstances, it may cause pain in the lower tummy and pelvic area, heavy periods or back pain.

Most women with endometriosis have no symptoms. In some cases, symptoms may be present but they are so mild as to make the condition go completely unnoticed. For women who have do experience symptoms, it is important to see your doctor.

Although this is not an exhaustive list of conditions that cause vaginal pain or discomfort, it does include the top 6 issues. In particular, any conditions accompanied by abnormal discharge, vaginal itching, pain during intercourse or bleeding in between periods should always be looked at urgently.