Photo: National Sexual Violence Resource Center
The Office on Women’s Health
defines sexual assault as ‘any type of sexual activity or contact that you do not consent to’, including rape, sexual coercion, or if the victim was given drugs or alcohol as a part of the assault.
Sexual assault can have many effects, both physically and psychologically, on your health, including your vaginal health. Here are a few effects a sexual assault can have on your intimate, and overall, health:
- Vaginal tearing and bruising: The physical trauma associated with a sexual assault can cause tearing, bruising, and other injuries to the vaginal and vulva area, which can lead to discomfort, pain, bleeding, and increased risk for infection.
- Vaginal infections: Foreign bacteria can get into the vagina during the assault that can lead to bacterial vaginosis (BV) or yeast infections. Sexually transmitted infections and diseases (STIs/STDs) can also be contracted during the assault.
- Pelvic pain can be caused by a sexual assault, which can be a result of the physical trauma or psychological distress associated with the assault, which can lead to painful sex or difficulty in having sex in general.
- Sexual dysfunction: A sexual assault can cause sexual dysfunction including difficulty becoming aroused, losing interest in sex, or having pain during sex. This can be the result of the physical trauma or the psychological issues that occur after an assault, such as anxiety or fear.
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): The mental anguish and pain associated with a sexual assault can last for many years, if not a lifetime. The physical and psychological effects of a sexual assault such as vaginal and pelvic pain or discomfort, sexual pain or discomfort, loss of interest in sex, the effects of having an STI/STD, the possibility of pregnancy, and the flashbacks that may occur during consensual sexual activity can have devastating effects that take years to cope with and move past.
It’s important to note that survivors of sexual assault should seek both medical attention and emotional support, for not only their physical well-being, but their mental health as well. And they must realize that they did nothing wrong, and it was not their fault.
Here are a few resources for sexual assault survivors:
The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) 800-656-HOPE (4763)
National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC)
Office on Women's Health
The National Center on Violence Against Women in the Black Community (Ujima)
Boca Recovery Center