Ask Bish - Your Sex and Relationships Questions Answered

Why Does My Clitoris Hurt?

What might be the causes of a painful clitoris (and when it’s time to tell mum).

Hi bish,

I am really really worried about something and I know your not a GP but I know you know a little bit about STI’s

The thing is I have had sex only once ( didn’t enjoy it) and since then I’ve only done stuff with one other guy But they where both a long long time ago…now I have a lot a lot a lot of pain downstairs if you catch my drift? mainly in the clitoral area? ( think that’s what I mean) I looked into it on the internet and suddenly STI was mentioned….. I’m terrified

I’m too scared to ask my mum about it even though we are close and talk about sexual health a lot….



Thanks for your question. You’re right I’m not a Doctor so the main thing I’m going to tell you is that I think you should probably tell your mum. I’ll give you some advice on how to do that as well as some advice on what might be going on with your clitoris.

What causes clitoral pain?

I did a bit of searching around on the internet too – scary innit? Thankfully I know the websites I can rely on. One of the issues causing the pain could be an STI or more likely a sex infection – although I don’t think this is the most likely thing (keep reading). It’s possible that you could have caught an infection like HSV or HPV which can cause little blisters or warts which can be painful. However they often go away by themselves (but can return). For the most part these infections aren’t serious at all.

Another possibility is that you have an infection which isn’t passed on through sex but is something that affects your sexual organs – you could have something like thrush or bacterial vaginosis which could be causing pain or itchiness. For any of these a doctor can prescribe treatments which can alleviate or clear the symptoms pretty quickly.

It could also be a small cyst or a spot which is causing the pain. Again this isn’t necessarily sexually transmitted and it might well be something that can go away by itself. I don’t know whether you’ve tried anything to reduce the symptoms yourself, but have you tried having a warm bath, or holding a warm flannel to your clitoris for a bit? This might reduce the pain but also may help to treat something else might be happening.

So the bit that covers the clitoris is called the clitoral hood. This is very similar to foreskin for the penis. It provides protection but also lubricates the clitoris keeping it very sensitive. If this fluid gets trapped between the skin and the clitoris it can build up into a whiteish discharge called smegma. This can put extra pressure on the clitoris which might feel really sore. It may also be that you have a slightly tight clitoral hood which means that any movement or swelling (or arousal) might feel quite painful.

Try having a bath and if it’s not painful very very gently try to move the skin covering the clitoris. If it really hurts please stop. However maybe the gentle movement of water around the clitoris might shift some of this built up fluid. Try not to use very much soap ‘down there’ as the vagina generally cleans itself (clever vagina) and soap might upset the self cleaning process.

How to tell mum

If a warm bath or a warm wet flannel don’t help then it’s time to tell mum so that you can get a doctor to look at it. BUT HOW BISH? Well I’ve written about how to talk to parents about stuff here. But other specific advice I would give you is to

a) think about a very simple way of saying it and rehearse it over and over again. “Mum, I’ve got a weird pain down there. Can we go and get it checked by someone?” or “Muuuuuum my clitoris hurts”” whichever works for you!

b) leave a note “mum I’m embarrassed to say it out loud but I’ve got a pain in my clitoris type area, can we go to the doctor so I can get it checked out? Also can we get cake?”

c) cheat and send her a link to this response “Hey Mum, this random sex eduator person (called Bish or Justin, I don’t know, I’m confused ) wrote this amazing answer to my question, what do you think?”

If you really don’t want to tell your mum about this you could go to a young person’s clinic near you. Find out more about sexual health services and where you nearest one is (they are all free and confidential).

So to sum up, try to chill. It’s painful, which is bad, but it’s unlikely to be anything serious. Try having a nice warm bath to see if that helps. If not take my advice about speaking to your mum and go see a doctor.

Hope that helps!

Justin (my actual name)

BISH (my work name)

© Justin Hancock, 2014