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Vaginal Burning & Burning Urination

What is vaginal burning and painful urination?

Vaginal burning is an abnormal burning or stinging irritation that sometimes occurs during urination. The stinging or burning during urination is usually caused when urine comes in contact with vaginal lesions or areas of the genital region, such as the vulva or labia, that are inflamed. Vaginal burning or painful urination can also be signs of an STD and are often the first noticeable sign that an infection is present.

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Causes of vaginal burning or burning urination that cannot be passed sexually:

  • Yeast infection or urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Bacterial vaginosis (BV)
  • Chemical irritation from douches or creams
  • Irritation from condoms and other contraceptives/lubricants
  • Allergic reaction to soaps or detergents or feminine products
  • Friction from toilet paper

Vaginal burning or a burning feeling when you urinate can be a constant irritation or can occur intermittently when irritants are introduced to the vaginal region (such as during intercourse or when clothing or other objects come in contact with the area). Burning can begin suddenly or gradually grow in intensity over a period of time. In some cases, vaginal burning goes away on its own, but in cases where the burning is caused by an STD, medication is required to treat the burning.

An internal burning or painful sensation during urination is usually a sign of a bladder or urinary tract infection or an allergic reaction. Non-sexual causes are the same as external burning, but can also include trauma to the vagina. In rare cases, an allergic reaction to semen can cause internal vaginal burning.

Which STDs cause vaginal burning?

Herpes simplex 2 (HSV-2), known as genital herpes, is the most common STD associated with vaginal burning. An outbreak of genital herpes causes clusters of small, painful bumps that eventually burst and ooze a clear fluid. While most outbreaks include bumps on the external vaginal area, lesions can also form inside the vagina, where they may go unnoticed. The external lesions may become painful when urine, skin, or clothing come in contact with the bumps, while internal lesions may cause a burning pain during intercourse or when a tampon is inserted.

Trichomoniasis, an STD caused by a protozoan parasite, can cause irritation and inflammation of the vaginal skin, which in turn can cause vaginal burning. The bacterial STDs gonorrhea and chlamydia are both associated with vaginal burning. Chlamydia is the most commonly occurring STD among women and often occurs simultaneously with gonorrhea in what is called a “co-infection.” Both infections can be cured when treated with antibiotics, often in a single dose.

Getting tested for STDs is the only way to be sure of the cause of vaginal burning, irritation or a burning sensation while urinating. Because many STDs don’t show symptoms, an infection could go unnoticed and progress into a more serious condition with long-lasting side effects. Frequent STD testing is the only way for sexually active women to be completely sure of their STD status and prevent untreated infections.

  1. "Urinary tract infections." Office on Women's Health. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/urinary-tract-infections
  2. "What is a yeast infection?" Planned Parenthood. https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/health-and-wellness/vaginitis/what-yeast-infection
  3. "Trichomoniasis - CDC Fact Sheet." Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines, 2015. Centers for Disease COntrol and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/std/trichomonas/stdfact-trichomoniasis.htm
  4. "Bacterial Vaginosis." Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines, 2015. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/std/bv/stdfact-bacterial-vaginosis.htm
  5. "Chlamydia - CDC Fact Sheet." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Chlamydia - CDC Fact Sheet." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/std/chlamydia/stdfact-chlamydia.htm
  6. "Disorders of the Vulva: Common Causes of Vulvar Pain, Burning, and Itching." The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Disorders-of-the-Vulva-Common-Causes-of-Vulvar-Pain-Burning-and-Itching
  7. "Genital Herpes - CDC Fact Sheet." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Genital Herpes - CDC Fact Sheet." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/std/herpes/stdfact-herpes.htm
  8. "Gonorrhea - CDC Fact Sheet." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Gonorrhea - CDC Fact Sheet." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/std/gonorrhea/stdfact-gonorrhea.htm

Medically Reviewed by on Jun 18, 2019

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