There are times that your body gets “off schedule,” and you might experience spotting between periods or after sex. An episode of bleeding during sex might sound alarming, but there are many non-serious possible explanations. According to one study, around six percent of menstruating women experience non-period-related bleeding during or after sex each year, with higher numbers for postmenopausal women. If you notice consistent bleeding after sex, especially if it’s accompanied by pain or other symptoms or happens more than once, it would be a good idea to get things checked out and see your gynecologist.
If you notice some bleeding during sex, your vagina may have experienced trauma or become scratched or irritated. Most of the time, these scratches or cuts are very small and heal on their own within a few days. Very rarely, a scratch or cut inside of the vagina may need medical attention to help it heal and reduce the risk of an infection. To reduce the likelihood of this happening, consider adding a natural lubricant such as organic coconut oil. You may have also, during sex, bumped the cervix, which can cause bleeding. If your cervix experiences any kind of trauma (which can be as simple as an unexpected bump), you may have bleeding. If you have an IUD, the string can irritate your cervix during sex and, yes, cause bleeding.
Often, if you’re just about to start your period or have just ended it, having sex near the start of your period may actually bring on your period a day or two early, particularly if you orgasm. And if you’re having sex shortly after your period ended, the motion may have disrupted some remaining period blood in the uterus, resulting in unexpected bleeding.
The lower estrogen levels that occur after delivery of a baby or when breastfeeding, can result in vaginal dryness and cause you to be more prone to bleeding after sex. Using lubrication will help reduce the risk of bleeding and also make vaginal sex more comfortable.
The hormonal changes associated with menopause also make vaginal bleeding common, including during or after sex. As your body produces less estrogen, you produce less natural lubrication and your vaginal tissues become thinner and more easily irritated. Again, lubrication can help, as well as other options recommended by your doctor.
Vaginal bleeding is often a sign of some vaginal infections, including yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, and some STIs such as chlamydia and syphilis. The bleeding may be accompanied by other symptoms, including a change in odor, discharge, and itchiness or burning. If untreated, vaginal infections can get worse and affect your other reproductive organs, so see your gynecologist soon.
In addition, uterine fibroids are non-cancerous growths in and around the uterus. If they’re large, they can cause pain during sex, and sometimes bleeding, as well. And finally, bleeding during sex may also be a symptom of other health conditions, including cervical, uterine, or vaginal cancer; cervical polyps; and endometriosis. If you’re regularly bleeding during sex, or if bleeding is accompanied by pain or any other symptoms, or if you are concerned in any way, please make an appointment with your health care provider for an evaluation.
Dana Humes Goff, APRN, CNM, DNP
Advanced Practice Registered Nurse