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Rash after sex?

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teenie asks:

I have a questionable ailment...I've developed a rash the day after my boyfriend and I have had sex but we've been together for 3 years, lost our virginity together and stay monogamous. So I can't see any risk in any STIs although I am planing to get a check-up soon. The rash is around my vaginal area but also near my bottom. I'm guessing I'm allergic to the latex or lube used or it could be because I shaved...should I be worried? Thank You

Heather Corinna replies:

If you shaved your vulva very recently before sex, then I'd say the chances are that yes: that's the reason for the irritation. That skin is pretty delicate, and all the more so when it's been irritated by something, and shaving certainly does that. Add a bunch of friction and body heat to an already irritated and sensitive area, and it's easy to see why it can become more irritated.

I can't know what both of your sexual history is when you say you lost your virginity together, simply because that term -- virginity -- can mean so many different things to so many people, and since it often only addresses vaginal intercourse, and not other sexual activities. If you mean that neither of you has EVER had a sexual partner before for ANY kind of genital sex (such as oral sex), then while STIs are never a non-issue, in that case they certainly are a very unlikely issue. And one is rarely going to see STI symptoms one day after any kind of sex.

In fact, most STIs often will show no noticeable symptoms at all, which is why testing is so important. You're both sexually active now, even if you weren't before, so it's time to get in the habit of both getting those tests every year. Just because people are monogamous (when they are) doesn't mean they don't need preventative sexual healthcare.

If, on the other hand, either of you HAS had any kind of sexual partnership before, while it's unlikely what you're dealing with now is due to an STI, STIs are something the two of you should be thinking about, and reducing the risks of via both latex barrier use and through regular screenings (and not just for you, but for both of you). And just so you're aware, shaving or waxing shortly before sex can increase risks of infections, simply because the tiny abrasions either can cause can create more pathways in for viruses, parasites and bacteria. If you're going to shave or wax, best to do it days in advance of sex.

As far as allergy or sensitivity to lube or latex goes, you can check that out for yourself just by switching things up next time. Try a non-latex condom, for instance (though if shaving was the issue, things may be improved just because you didn't do that next time), and try using a different lube than you have been. As well, be sure you're using lube from the start. If you only add it when you're already feeling a little raw or dry, then any moisture -- even water -- can tend to feel irritating. Too, an easy way to self-test for latex sensitivities is to put a latex glove on your hand, wear it for around twenty minutes, then take a look at your hand. Any rash or redness? Any soreness or discomfort? If not, then you're probably not latex sensitive or allergic. If so, then you likely are.

In the meantime, while you figure out what the issue is, just be kind to your vulva. Loose clothing, cotton undergarments, gentle soaps, chill out with genital sex until the rash passes. And if it doesn't pass in a few days, go ahead and make that appointment with a sexual healthcare provider.

Here's just a couple extra bits for information for the both of you:

written 18 Jan 2008 . updated 27 Jan 2014

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