How to deal with cuts and tears from fingering and rough sex

Sex wounds are pretty common, and happen when the angle goes awry, we let a partner be too rough, or an accident happens, for example a fingernail mishap.

The first thing is to figure out if you need medical attention or not. This is different for everyone, so if it seems nasty or you are worried, please go to your local emergency room or make an appointment with your doctor, gynaecologist, or sexual health clinic to be examined. You don’t want to end up with scars or infections.

If there are:

  • Flaps of skin or tears of important structures (so say the whole clitoral hood is disconnected or a piece of labia is flapping in the breeze)
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Bleeding that won’t stop or doesn’t seem to be slowing
  • Deep wounds

How to care for your cuts and tears

Think of your cut or tear as you would a normal cut on your skin. You want to make sure the cut can heal without infection, but you don’t want to ‘over-care’ for it by constantly touching it, cleaning it or otherwise fiddling with it.

You can try some vulva-specific vagina-friendly cuts cream, or some paw paw or Vaseline to help heal the cut.

Washing – be gentle, only use water

Wash your vulva with plain warm water only, and if it seems like your vulva will cope (not sting) or really needs it, use a very small amount of hypoallergenic soap. ‘Hypoallergenic’ generally means not the Mickey Mouse variety – natural ingredients, gentle, soft, mild, no artificial harsh ingredients. The kind of soap you would wash a baby with if you were a yoga mum who loves organic stuff. You know. Gentle.

Infection – keep your vulva clean

Your vagina is full of good bacteria, so vaginal infections from small cuts are rare. This is because if any bad bugs try to get into the wound, the good bugs around will fight them off. Due to the plethora of good bugs in your vaginal secretions, things are generally ok, but rinsing with water can also help to wash away bacteria and and any liquid (pus) coming out of the cut that you can’t see.

The signs of infection are pretty clear – heat, redness, swelling, and tender to the touch. We’ve all had an infected cut before on other parts of our bodies – it goes a bit red and pus comes out and it’s sore. Antibacterials clear it up, which is why people put creams or ointments on cuts: it kills all the germs so the wound can heal by itself, which happens generally anyway.

You don’t need to put any antibacterials on the cut, particularly if it is on the inside of the labia on the mucous membranes (like your mouth). Don’t ever put antibacterials up your vagina unless instructed to by a health practitioner. You can use antibacterial creams or ointments on any of the outer genitals if you want to, for example some betadine (the brown liquid), but don’t freak out about infection too much – if you keep it clean and don’t irritate the wound, you should be just fine.

Healing – leave your vagina and vulva alone

Wash it, dry it gently, don’t irritate it by picking, touching, rubbing, sex, fingers, masturbating, toys, tampons, etc. Just let it be, and it will heal.

If it’s in a spot where the normal movement of your body irritates it, you can apply a very small amount of vulva and vagina-friendly cuts cream, cold-pressed lubricating vegetable oil (coconut, olive) or paw paw, to allow the flesh to slide across itself instead of catching.

This can be really helpful when there are small splits at the joins of the clitoral hood and the labia, since the hood has to move across the top of the clitoris and with the labia. It just smooths it out and can make it less uncomfortable, and help protect a little bit from urine.

Don’t pick scabs.

Pain – avoid irritating the cut

Cuts can be quite sore for a day or two, especially as they can sting when urinating or washing. Then the wound starts to heal and it doesn’t really hurt unless you knock it or otherwise irritate the cut. To manage the pain, you need to manage your movements, clothing, and potential irritants.

If the cut is in a place where urine gets into it every time you pee, you can adjust the angle that you pee on to try to avoid it, or squirt water onto your vulva as you pee to dilute the urine. Urine is very acidic, so it gets into the raw flesh and stings like crazy. Diluting the urine simply makes it less painful.

If you need to, go without underwear and walk funny! Do what you gotta to keep it from being painful. A sore vag is no fun, but the less you touch it, the faster it will heal, and then you can just get on with life. If the pain is really bad or there is a lot of swelling, you can apply ice packs (with a tea towel or cloth over to prevent sticking or freezer burn!), have a soothing oat bath.

If it’s really bad, consider some form of painkiller or anti-inflammatory. It is not recommended to simply take drugs because you are in some pain, but as with any wound, if it is causing you significant discomfort or pain, you do have some options for temporary relief.

Bleeding – it will stop

Putting pressure on a wound will help to stop the bleeding since the little molecules that cause blood clotting can concentrate in the one area without flowing out, working their clotty magic. This process naturally happens, but sometimes bleeding can take a bit longer to stop than we would like, so pressure can help. Bleeding isn’t a big deal but it means your skin is cut a few layers in, not just on the surface. Your blood vessels are a few layers in. This means if there is a lot of bleeding, the cut has probably gone deeper, and therefore you need to evaluate whether you need medical attention.

Using toilet paper to stop bleeding from wounds usually means it will stick, which is ok, but just make sure you get rid of all the bits eventually once the cut has closed up a bit.

Sex and fingering after a cut – wait until it’s properly healed

Sex wounds interrupt your sex life because you should avoid using your vulva or vagina for unnecessary actions until the cuts are properly healed, otherwise you’ll just split it open and it will take longer to heal and of course hurt/bleed.

It can be tempting to try to get into it as soon as you can, and this is really up to you – the world won’t fall down if you have sex with a cut on your vag. So long as you do so with the full understanding that you could irritate the cut and cause pain and bleeding, and a longer healing time. It’s really not the world’s biggest deal, but pain is usually an indicator to leave well enough alone.

Hymens

A bleeding hymen is different from general cuts, so read about the hymen here.

Sexual assault and rape

If you have been sexually assaulted, please read this post-sexual assault guide on what to do. Sexual assault doesn’t always include rape, however, but no matter what sort of assault has occurred, get support and proper help immediately.

Your vagina and anus can get really damaged from violent sexual assault, and you’ll need to be examined, not just for evidence, but to ensure you are all in one piece. Don’t leave this to chance.

 

Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica is a degree-qualified naturopath (BHSc) specialising in vulvovaginal health and disease, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Jessica is the owner and lead naturopath of My Vagina, and is a member of the:

  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD)
  • International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
  • National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) Australia
  • New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society (ANZVS)
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)
Read more about Jessica and My Vagina's origin story.