Bleeding after sex can be a distressing experience for many women. However, it is also a fairly common occurrence.
There are many reasons why you might experience bleeding after sex. Thankfully, the majority of cases are nothing to worry about and are perfectly normal.
With that being said, there are some causes of bleeding that are signs of something more serious and should be checked out by a doctor.
In this article, we are going to be looking at common causes of bleeding after sex, how to treat or avoid bleeding, and when you should seek medical advice for post-coital bleeding.
If you are concerned about any changes in bleeding or unusual bleeding, you should always seek medical advice. It is better to be safe than sorry if you are worried about something.
Common Causes Of Bleeding After Sex
There are many different reasons why you might experience bleeding after sex. Below are some common causes of bleeding after sex.
Some of them are completely harmless while others are more concerning.
If you experience pain in your pelvis during or after sex alongside the bleeding, you should seek medical assistance to rule out anything more worrisome.
Having Sex For The First Time
It is common to hear stories of women experiencing bleeding after they have sex for the first time. This isn’t something that happens to everyone, but it is a possibility.
The bleeding is caused by the hymen breaking or tearing.
It is important to note that not every woman’s hymen will tear when they have sex for the first time, it has no correlation with virginity.
It is also important to understand that bleeding after having sex for the first time should not be an expectation.
When the hymen tears during sex it is often the result of improper arousal.
Another common cause of bleeding after sex is the menopause. This can happen after you have been through the menopause.
The lower levels of estrogen in your body can cause the walls of the vagina to become thin, dry, or inflamed.
This can lead to small tears in the wall as a result of intercourse which can lead to bleeding or spotting after sex.
During childbirth, the vagina goes through a lot of trauma.
This can cause the vaginal tissues to be more sensitive and become more vulnerable to injury and inflammation.
This can lead to some spotting or bleeding after sex.
Because of the trauma that the vaginal tissue goes through during childbirth, it is important to wait until you have been medically cleared before engaging in sexual intercourse post-birth.
There are also certain medications that can have a noticeable impact on your menstrual cycle and the natural balance of your vagina.
Some antidepressants, allergy medication, and flu remedies can cause vaginal dryness.
This can cause friction during sex which can irritate and inflame the tissue and can lead to spotting and bleeding.
There are also certain chemicals that can cause vaginal dryness that can lead to minor tears, inflammation, and spotting or bleeding after sex.
Some common ways for chemicals to affect the balance of your vagina include feminine hygiene products, laundry detergent, and swimming pool chemicals.
The act of douching is a controversial subject.
However you feel about it, having sex after douching or immediately after showering or bathing can result in excessive friction during penetrative sex.
This can lead to tearing and irritation which can cause post-coital bleeding.
Improper Arousal Before Sex
We briefly mentioned this when talking about having sex for the first time.
If you are not properly aroused before you begin to have penetrative sex, you are more likely to experience discomfort and tears which can lead to post-coital bleeding or spotting.
If you are not properly aroused when you have sex, your vagina will not be lubricated enough.
Friction During Sex
This cause is related to the one above. When there is improper lubrication in the vagina when engaging in penetrative sex, it can cause friction.
If there is too much friction, this can lead to inflammation, tearing, and discomfort which can cause bleeding and spotting.
This one might sound a bit scary, but it is actually a common cause of bleeding after sex.
Cervical ectropion can be caused by hormonal changes, contraception, and pregnancy. It is particularly common if you are on the combined oral pill.
Cervical ectropion occurs when cells from inside the cervix begin to grow on the outside of the cervix.
These cells are more prone to bleeding than the regular cells on the outside of the cervix. This means that they are likely to bleed if contact is made with them during sex.
These cells and the associated bleeding are completely benign and have no link to cervical cancer. It is nothing to worry about.
Sexually Transmitted Infections
There are certain types of sexually transmitted infections that can cause bleeding to occur after sex.
Chlamydia and Gonorrhea are the most common infections that can appear as bleeding or spotting after sex.
If there is a chance that a sexually transmitted infection is the cause of bleeding after sex for you, it is important to get it treated as soon as possible as it can lead to infertility if left untreated.
Another common cause of bleeding after sex is polyps. This is something that can affect any woman. Polyps are small, benign growths that can develop on the cervix.
The growths are full of blood vessels which makes them prone to bleeding.
There are some cases where your doctor will want to send you to a specialist to ascertain whether the polyps are actually benign.
This is because in a small number of cases, the polyps may not be benign and they will need to be removed.
If you have a lot of benign polyps, the specialist may still suggest removing them to avoid discomfort.
Occasionally, bleeding after sex can be a sign of cervical cancer.
However, it is important to note that there are often other symptoms that happen alongside the bleeding that point toward cervical cancer.
Bleeding by itself is unlikely to be cervical cancer but you should make sure you are up to date on your Pap Smears.
Other symptoms that you should look out for alongside post-coital bleeding include pain during or after sex, changes in vaginal discharge, and pain in the lower back or pelvis.
If you suspect that this could be the cause of bleeding, you should go to your doctor as soon as possible.
Another kind of growth that can cause vaginal bleeding is fibroids.
These are small, non-cancerous growths that can appear on the inside of the womb or around the womb. These are totally normal and benign.
They shouldn’t cause you any pain or discomfort, but they can cause abnormal vaginal bleeding.
Is It Normal To Bleed After Having Sex For The First Time?
It is perfectly normal to experience bleeding after having sex for the first time. Many people experience it and the bleeding is generally quite light.
With that being said, not everyone does experience bleeding after sex so don’t worry if none of your friends have.
There are a few different known causes of bleeding after having sex for the first time. The most commonly known reason is that the hymen is torn or broken.
While there are some religious and cultural beliefs tied to the hymen and the concept of virginity, it doesn’t have to break during sex for the first time and it can even break before sex due to sports and other physical activity.
Other common causes for bleeding after having sex for the first time include vaginal dryness due to improper arousal.
This is something that can be avoided through proper foreplay or additional lubrication.
If you are concerned about bleeding after having sex for the first time, for example, if it is painful or particularly heavy bleeding, you should speak to your doctor or a sexual health clinic.
Why Do I Bleed During Or After Sex On The Pill?
There are certain types of hormonal birth control that can cause bleeding, spotting, or brown discharge at irregular times of the month.
Occasionally, this can coincide with sex. Experiencing bleeding, spotting, or changes to discharge is most commonly reported by people who are on the pill.
The mini pill or progestogen-only pills are more likely to cause this side effect.
In general, the irregular bleeding should settle down after the first three months of using the pill.
If you have been on the pill for more than three months and are still experiencing post-coital bleeding or changes in your pattern of bleeding, you should speak to your doctor.
If you are not on hormonal birth control or you have never had any issues with irregular bleeding on birth control, your post-coital bleeding may be caused by cervical ectropion.
We covered what this is and the fact that it is usually completely benign above.
However, people who are on hormonal birth control, such as the combined pill, are more susceptible to developing this condition which can lead to bleeding after sex.
Vaginal dryness can also be a side effect of hormonal birth control such as the pill. This can lead to bleeding after sex due to improper lubrication.
This can be avoided by using additional lube during intercourse.
Bleeding After Sex With An IUD
A common side effect of having an IUD or IUS fitted is erratic bleeding or spotting.
This is often an immediate side effect and is the result of having the device fitted into your cervix. Because of this side effect, sex should be avoided for the first 24 hours after insertion.
This allows the IUD to settle and prevents it from moving, being dislodged, or causing the bleeding to worsen.
Bleeding during or after sex is also a commonly reported side effect of the IUD for the first three months as your body gets used to it.
However, if you continue to experience post-coital bleeding or a change in your bleeding pattern after three months, you should see your doctor to rule out any movement or dislodging.
If you experience unexpected bleeding or prolonged bleeding with your IUD, you should consider taking STI and pregnancy tests.
You should also make sure that you are up to date with pap smears if you are eligible. This will help to rule out any other causes of bleeding that are time-sensitive.
Is Bleeding After Sex A Sign Of Pregnancy?
There are many changes that the body goes through during pregnancy, especially where your cervix is concerned.
It is common for women to experience signs of blood in their discharge or some spotting after sex in the first few months of pregnancy.
This can be implantation bleeding which happens when the embryo implants itself in the wall of your womb.
You may also experience some light bleeding when your period would have been due.
If you are concerned about changes to your discharge, unexpected bleeding, or you suspect that you could be pregnant, it is important to take a home pregnancy test and visit your doctor.
If the bleeding you experience after sex becomes heavy, you are passing clots, you experience pain in your stomach, pelvis, chest, or shoulder, or you are lightheaded or breathless, you should seek urgent medical care.
Postmenopausal Bleeding After Sex
After the menopause, the levels of estrogen in the body significantly decrease. This is what causes your periods and ovulation to stop.
However, this hormone is what keeps the walls of the vagina supple and healthy.
When levels of estrogen drop, the walls of the vagina can become weak, thin, dry, and inflamed. This is often referred to as vaginal atrophy.
When this happens to the vagina, you are much more likely to experience bleeding after sex.
You can counteract this by using proper lubrication methods every time you have sex.
However, if the problem continues even with adequate lubrication, or you begin to experience bleeding unrelated to sex, you should see your doctor.
When Should You See A Doctor For Bleeding After Sex?
Working out when your post-coital bleeding warrants a visit to the doctor can be difficult because there are so many potential causes for bleeding and spotting after sex.
Minor spotting and bleeding that stops quickly is an extremely common occurrence and something that shouldn’t cause you any distress.
This type of bleeding is unlikely to warrant advice from a medical professional.
With that being said, if you are using hormonal birth control and aren’t using any form of barrier birth control, you should consider a pregnancy test or STI test to rule out anything more serious.
If the post-coital bleeding that you experience is prolonged or persistent, or you bleed every time you have sex, you should contact your doctor or OB/GYN.
They can conduct an internal examination to find the cause and they can investigate any more serious causes. The earlier you catch anything the better the prognosis.
However, if you have an examination and your cervix is normal and healthy, but you continue to bleed after sex, or if the examination shows that you have an abnormal cervix, you may be referred to a specialist known as a colposcopy clinic.
The clinic will be able to give a more detailed examination of your cervix to find the cause of the bleeding.
One of the most important things to note about bleeding after sex is the timeline.
If you are noticing bleeding after sex that is delayed by a day or more, there is a chance that it is not related to sex at all.
There are many other causes of irregular bleeding or spotting that can offer an explanation.
If you experience light bleeding or spotting days after having sex, this is most likely ovulation bleeding and is not related to sexual intercourse at all.
It is likely to stop by itself in a day or two.
You may also have an irregular cycle. If you find yourself having full periods at random times throughout the month, the cause could be your cycle.
This is something that can be managed with hormonal birth control.
If you are having irregular bleeding throughout the month, it is important to visit your doctor or OB/GYN to rule out other, more serious causes.
Even if there is nothing more sinister going on, your doctor can help to guide you through methods of making your periods more regular.
There are so many different things that can cause bleeding after sex. The majority of these causes are harmless if not a little annoying.
With that being said, no one knows your body better than you do and if you feel like something has changed or something is wrong, there is no harm in visiting your doctor.
It is always better to be safe than sorry and the earlier you catch something serious, the better the outcome will be.
Frequently Asked Questions?
Should Bleeding After Sex Happen More Than Once Before Calling The Doctor?
Having any unexpected bleeding can be a distressing experience.
However, unless the bleeding is severe and accompanied by other symptoms such as pain in your pelvis, abdomen, chest, or shoulder, there is no harm in waiting to see if it happens again.
There are many causes of vaginal bleeding that may be a one-off or completely benign. Just make sure to track any unexpected bleeding to help you notice a pattern.