Minor vaginal cuts and tears are common and often occur when a person is removing body hair or engaging in sexual activity. People with certain hormonal, skin, and immune conditions may be more likely to get vaginal cuts or tears.

Minor vaginal wounds are usually harmless, but they may cause mild pain and discomfort for a day or two before they heal, particularly during urination and bathing or showering. Some minor cuts or tears may also bleed lightly for a short period.

More severe cuts or tears can require medical attention, especially those that are deep, will not stop bleeding, or do not heal with proper self-care.

In this article, we discuss some common causes of vaginal cuts and tears. We also cover treatment, prevention, and when to see a doctor.

Cuts and tears compromise the skin barrier, which makes it easier for germs to enter the body and cause an infection. Keeping the area around a vaginal cut clean and dry can help prevent skin infections.

Some general suggestions for treating vaginal cuts and tears include:

While vaginal cuts or tears are healing, a person may wish to avoid sexual activities that involve the vagina. Wearing loose-fitting underwear made of natural materials, such as cotton or bamboo, for a few days may also help.

It is not always possible to prevent vaginal cuts and tears. However, depending on the cause, a person can take some steps to reduce the risk of vaginal wounds.

Sexual activity

Ways to lower the risk of vaginal cuts and tears during sex include:

People using condoms should not use mineral oil, baby oil, or petroleum jelly as a sexual lubricant because these products can damage latex.

Regular vaginal intercourse helps keep the vaginal tissues elastic and strong, which can make vaginal cuts and tears less likely.

Hair removal

To prevent cuts and injuries while trimming or shaving pubic hair, the suggest:

The following tips can help prevent vaginal tears while waxing:

  • making sure that the area is clean, dry, and free of any irritation, wound, or sore
  • applying the wax in the direction of hair growth and removing it in the opposite direction
  • keeping the skin taut when applying and removing the wax

Vaginal delivery

Cuts or tears are a fairly inevitable consequence of vaginal delivery. However, healthcare professionals may use certain techniques to help prevent these injuries, including:

  • perineal massage to reduce muscular resistance, either during the second stage of labor or shortly after delivery
  • applying warm compresses to the perineal area while a woman pushes during labor

Doctors are also reconsidering the safety and effectiveness of episiotomy, which is a procedure that involves making a deep cut during delivery to enlarge the woman's birth canal.

A doctor can assess vaginal cuts or tears that do not heal.

Minor vaginal cuts or tears are generally harmless and usually heal quickly without treatment. However, more severe cuts or tears can lead to complications, such as substantial blood loss and infections.

It is important to see a doctor for vaginal cuts or tears that:

People with vaginal cuts or tears should seek immediate medical care if they also have any of the following symptoms:

  • fever or chills
  • discolored or foul-smelling discharge
  • a general feeling of being unwell
  • numbness or tingling
  • feeling faint or losing consciousness

People who frequently experience painful or large vaginal cuts or tears should discuss their symptoms with a doctor to identify possible underlying conditions.

Sexual abuse, assault, or rape can cause vaginal cuts or tears of varying severity.

People who have experienced sexual violations should talk to a doctor as soon as possible or seek emergency care.

Adults should also speak with a doctor about any unexplained or concerning vaginal cuts or tears in children or infants.