Bleeding after sex can be unsettling. How common is it? And when should you seek treatment? We’ll take you through the details.
Fluids (and feelings) tend to flood fornication.
Or, in other words, sex is messy.
So what happens if one of those fluids in question is blood.
And it’s not your period. Is this cause for concern?
Vaginal bleeding after sex can be scary — particularly if you’re not sure of the cause.
First, if you’re worried — and/or in pain — it’s important to reach out to your healthcare provider as soon as possible.
Know that you are definitely not alone.
Somewhere between 0.7 and 9% of women experience bleeding after sex.
(A wide variance, we know, but because it’s an intimate topic, it can be difficult to get the data.)
And there’s not one cause.
For some people, it’s harmless, while for others, it can signal that something else is up.
So what are the reasons for bleeding after sex? And when should you be concerned? Let’s dive in.
In this article: 📝
- What does it mean if you bleed after sex?
- Is it normal to bleed a little after sex?
- Why am I bleeding after sex?
What does it mean if you bleed after sex?
The medical term for bleeding after sex is post-coital bleeding.
Because there are so many potential causes, it can be hard to find the answer for your unique situation.
We’ll take you through the details.
Is it normal to bleed a little after sex?
If this is the first time you’re having penetrative sex, a little blood afterward is normal.
That’s because the hymen — a thin piece of skin covering the vagina — may have been stretched or torn.
And don’t worry if you don’t bleed after your first time.
That’s fine too.
Hymens can be stretched and torn a few different ways, including from using tampons, playing sports, and masturbation.
(So no, an intact hymen is not a sign of virginity.)
But if it’s not your period nor your first time, bleeding after sex can be a sign that something else is up.
None of it means that you’re not normal — it just may mean that you’ll either need treatment or to get some little extra TLC.
Why am I bleeding after sex?
Here are some possible reasons why you might be bleeding after sex:
1. Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
STIs (and STDs) all have their own set of symptoms, and vaginal bleeding is often on the list.
Itching, burning, bleeding and an unusual discharge can all be part of the experience.
Trichomoniasis, an STI caused by a parasite, can cause cervical bleeding.
(Your cervix is the bridge between your uterus and vagina.)
Talk to your doctor about treatment options.
If you are in an ongoing sexual partnership, both partners may need to be treated to avoid reinfection in the future.
2. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
This infection of the reproductive organs can be caused by untreated STIs and bacterial infections.
Douching and using an IUD can also make you more vulnerable to it.
PID can cause pain, fever, unusual discharge, and yes, bleeding after sex.
The good news is, PID can be treated with antibiotics, particularly if it’s detected early.
3. Yeast infection
A fungus called candida albicans is responsible for most yeast infections.
Normally, this fungus lives in our body causing no trouble.
But sometimes, it grows in abundance and our immune systems cannot keep it in check.
This can lead to bleeding after sex.
You may also notice a thick white, odorless discharge.
There are a few different potential causes of injury to the vagina.
Childbirth can do it. As can sex itself.
Does deep sex cause bleeding?
Yes, it can. Rough sex and sex with foreign objects can cause tears both inside and outside of your vagina, which leads to bleeding after sex.
If your vagina is not moist when you have sex, this is more likely.
(Remember: lube is your friend).
And being into sex matters.
When you’re in the mood for sex, your body kicks into gear and sends extra blood flow in the direction of your genitals, signaling them to release special fluids from a gland called the Bartholin’s gland.
And there is a very good reason for all of this.
The added moisture helps to smooth out the friction and prevent injury.
Vaginas are pretty smart that way.
Your enjoyment matters. Foreplay matters. Consent matters.
Important note: Sex should always be consensual. If you have experienced sexual abuse, you can get help anonymously. Here are the national hotlines (in the U.S.) for you to call. You don’t have to go through this alone.
6. Cervical or uterine polyps
A cervical polyp is a small growth on your cervix, while a uterine polyp is a small growth on your endometrium (uterus).
They are usually non-cancerous and more likely to develop during your reproductive years but are more common after the age of 40 years.
Both cervical and uterine polyps can cause bleeding during and after sex.
While they may sound scary, polyps can be removed through a relatively simple procedure.
Some disappear on their own.
The endometrium is the lining of the uterus.
Sometimes, the tissue from that lining grows outside of the uterus.
It can be very painful — particularly when you’re having sex — and cause bleeding between periods.
Luckily, endometriosis can be managed with medication and surgery.
8. Cervical ectropion
Sometimes, cells in the cervix spread outside the cervix.
This can cause inflammation and lead to bleeding after sex.
In some cases, treatment is unnecessary.
In others, a doctor may perform a procedure where they either freeze or burn the cells while the patient is under anesthetic.
Laser treatment is also an option.
In rare cases, bleeding after sex can be a sign of cervical, vaginal, or endometrial cancer.
If you are bleeding after menopause or experience serious changes to your menstrual cycle, check in with your doctor.
Going for a routine pap smear (or cervical screening) every three years is also important.
This procedure screens for cancer and precancerous cells in the cervix.
If detected early, the survival rate of cervical cancer is 92%.
10. Menopause and vaginal dryness
When you go through menopause — classified as 12 months after your period ends for good — your body goes through a number of hormonal changes that affect all sorts of things.
And yes, one of those things can be your vagina.
As your estrogen supply decreases, so can your vagina’s ability to keep things moist.
This is called genitourinary syndrome of menopause.
(You may have heard it referred to as vaginal atrophy, but we’re really not fans of that term.)
This reduction in vaginal secretion can cause more friction during sex and result in injury.
Somewhere between 10 and 40% of menopausal women experience this — and only around 20% of those with symptoms get medical attention.
The bottom line? You don’t have to just suffer through this. There is help available.
It’s also important to note that you may experience vaginal dryness before you hit menopause. Some possible causes are:
- Ovary removal or damage
- Having recently given birth
- Medication that interferes with your estrogen supply
- Allergens and irritants. Heads up — douching may get in the way of your vagina’s flow.
11. Breastfeeding and bleeding after sex
And this can lead to post-sex bleeding, as too much friction can cause tears within the vaginal tissue.
Maybe just grab the lube if you are breastfeeding just to make sure!
12. Pregnancy and light bleeding after sex
From implantation bleeding to slight injury from your last routine exam, there are many reasons for some light spotting.
But if you experience heavy bleeding, whether it’s after sex while pregnant or with no apparent cause, it’s definitely worth checking in with your healthcare provider as soon as you can.
In the same cases, it could mean that complications have arisen that could put you and your baby at risk.
And if you want some support through all of this, join us on Peanut.
We don’t have to do this alone.