A simple vaginal or vulvar tear means a cut, split or damage to tissue that may bleed a little, sting when you urinate, and be a bit uncomfortable. It may be from mysterious causes or it could be from something you know you did (scratches, sex wounds, etc.).
The Simple Tear
If your cut or tear was caused by an identifiable action (sex, tampons, fingering, toys, fiddling) and stings, bleeds and is uncomfortable, it will heal by itself with no treatment in a few days to a week, depending how deep the vaginal cut is.
The deeper the cut, the longer it will take to heal, the longer it will bleed for, and the more uncomfortable it will be. Take a look in a hand mirror so you know what to expect based on how deep the vulvar cut or tear is. The joins between the clitoral hood and labia (see diagram), and the posterior fourchette, are all prone to being split or cut, even sometimes from the slightest pull in the wrong direction.
Recurrent fissuring of the posterior fourchette
The posterior fourchette is one of the most common places that a vagina or vulva can tear, and is part vulva, part vaginal entrance. The posterior fourchette is the very bottom of the V-shape created by the bottom of the vaginal entrance (the introitus).
Because a large penis, not being turned on enough before penetration, or various other circumstances can easily result in a tear in this area, recurrent fissuring of the posterior fourchette is a common complaint amongst sexually active women.
The posterior fourchette is the first place to split when pressure is applied, since it is where the two halves of our body join when we’re growing in the womb. It’s the weakest spot when you consider the other pressure spots of penetration. No other place will split the same way or anywhere near as easily.
If repeated damage is done to the posterior fourchette, scar tissue may form, making the vaginal entrance even smaller. This may require some repair strategies, but a full investigation should be undertaken to determine if scarring is an issue.
If you have repeated posterior fourchette fissuring, see your gynaecologist for advice.
Vaginal skin heals very quickly, just like the mouth, so prevent further damage by avoiding contact.
- No sex, tampons, masturbating, lacy underwear
- Keep it clean with daily showering or a rinse
- Go commando (no underwear) or wear comfortable underwear so it doesn’t catch or irritate the cut
- Keep an eye on it, but there is no need for concern with these types of cuts. Treat them like you would any other cut on your body – protect it, keep it clean, and don’t fret about it
- Posterior fourchette fissures (the fork in the bottom of the vaginal entrance) can start to branch into the realm of the Deep and Nasty Tear which you may need to treat differently
If your cuts were caused by rough sex or fingers
Bleeding and pain after fingering is really common in sexually inexperienced women, who aren’t sure what’s supposed to be happening in their vagina. While it comes naturally to some, fingering is advanced sex, and takes a lot of practice to get right for most people.
See our Fingering Basics article for instructions for lovers on how to use fingers to pleasure a woman without causing bleeding and pain (you’re doing it all wrong). Additionally, sex should not leave you with wounds, so be gentle, communicate with your partner about what feels good and what doesn’t (even if it’s awkward – practice makes it less so), and make use of a good-quality lubricant.
Sex should never (unless you are being deliberately kinky) result in pain and bleeding. If you are getting sex wounds, perhaps it’s time to revisit Sex 101 or seek treatments for any medical condition (like lichenoid conditions) that may be causing skin to easily split.
Damage caused by tampons
During your period, heavy or incorrect use of tampons can cause splits in the entrance to your vagina. This usually occurs when changing a tampon when the previous one isn’t completely full (still a bit dry), then putting another one in straight away. It can also happen when you are inserting tampons incorrectly. See our section on tampons if you are struggling.
These vaginal fissures should resolve quickly once your period is over, but it is important to learn how to correctly insert a tampon. Tampons are not supposed to cause damage.
Additionally, yanking a tampon out like pulling a band-aid off can cause internal damage to the lining of your vagina. Don’t do it. Wait until the tampon has absorbed moisture over a couple of hours, and then slowly pull it out by the string. If you are concerned that a tampon won’t come out, see your local sexual health clinic or emergency room. They can quickly help you.
What a health professional can do for your cuts and tears
The medical way of dealing with vaginal cuts and tears – outside of those that require surgical or other serious medical intervention – is, like naturopathy, to let them heal by themselves.
Your doctor may – to speed up healing or prevent infection – prescribe anti-fungal cream or tablets for a yeast infection, antivirals for herpes, oestrogen cream for atrophic vaginitis, with topical steroids for dermatitis, psoriasis or lichenoid disorders usually prescribed. You may get topical anaesthetic and antibiotic creams or gels.
Your naturopath may offer you the same treatments, but in a herbal cream (like our vulva and vagina-friendly cuts cream) or other formula, depending on your diagnosis.