Many women have experience some degree of vaginal bleeding or spotting right after having sex and don’t know why this happens. The truth is that there are many possible causes for bleeding after sex, which is also known as postcoital bleeding. Some of these causes are normal, while others could point toward an underlying health condition. So how can you differentiate between them?
Keep reading to find out if it’s normal to bleed after sex.
Is it normal to bleed after sex?
You may be surprised to learn that many women have experience some bleeding or spotting after sex at some point in their lives. According to a study published by The Journal of Menopausal Medicine, 45 to 63 percent of women report having experience symptoms such as vaginal dryness and bleeding after sex. However, it can be difficult to determine the exact percentage of women who have ever experienced this symptom, since it can often be underreported by women.
It’s important to keep in mind that there are multiple causes that can lead to bleeding after sex. Some of these causes are normal and can be easily solved, others can be a sign of a more serious medical issue that needs to be identified.
Let’s take a look at some of the reasons that can cause bleeding after sex.
Reasons why you may bleed after sex
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
Some STDs can cause irritation in your vagina and cervix, which can lead to bleeding after penetrative sex. That’s because during sexual activity, the friction between your genitals and your partner’s penis or fingers, or a sex toy, can increase the inflammation and cause some bleeding.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, some of the STDs that can cause postcoital bleeding include:
Certain complications of an untreated STD, such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), can also lead to postcoital bleeding. Keep in mind that STDs can be asymptomatic, so you shouldn’t rule them out as the cause of your bleeding until you get tested for different STDs. Other infections, such as candidiasis, could also lead to bleeding after sex.
You may experience some spotting after sex if your period has just ended, or if it’s about to begin. In these cases, it’s important to track your menstrual cycle so you can identify any correlations between postcoital bleeding and your period. If the bleeding is related to your period, it should stop happening soon after your period has ended.
Genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM)
Until recently, this condition was also known as vaginal atrophy, and it often affects postmenopausal women. The hormonal changes associated with menopause cause thinning, drying, and inflammation of your vaginal tissue, which can lead to bleeding after sex.
According to the Mayo Clinic, GSM also increases your risk of vaginal infections and urinary problems.
There are other conditions or situations that can lead to vaginal dryness even if you don’t have GSM. According to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, vaginal dryness can also cause irritation and burning during sex. Causes of vaginal dryness include:
- Insufficient arousal
- Chemicals in your personal hygiene products
- Certain medications
- Radiation therapy
- Chronic diseases
Small vaginal tears can happen during vigorous sex or after sexual abuse. In some cases, these tears can be so small that you may not even notice them, but they can still cause spotting and burning. Using more lubricant and a longer foreplay session can help prevent tears during vigorous, consensual intercourse.
According to the NHS, cervical or endometrial polyps are noncancerous growths that can affect the cervix or the lining of the uterus. Polyps are prone to bleeding or spotting after sex, between periods, or after menopause.
In rare cases, bleeding after sex can be caused by cancer of the reproductive system. Cervical, endometrial, and vaginal cancer can all cause irregular vaginal bleeding, which can include postcoital bleeding or spotting.
When to see a doctor
As a general rule, you should always see a doctor if you experience any amount of postcoital bleeding that isn’t related to your menstruation. This is particularly important if you have already gone through menopause — which means that you haven’t experienced menstrual bleeding for at least 12 straight months.
It’s also important to seek medical attention if you’ve recently had unprotected sex or have shown other signs of an STD. Common symptoms of an STD include:
- Abnormal vaginal discharge
- Foul-smelling discharge
- Increased urge to urinate
- Painful intercourse
- Painful or burning sensation during urination
- Rash on your genital area
- Genital lumps, blisters, or ulcers
- Lower abdominal pain
As we mentioned above, it’s very important to seek medical assistance and get tested for STDs if you ever experience postcoital bleeding. In most cases, the causes of postcoital bleeding can be solved or managed with adequate treatment. You can learn more about STD testing at STDWatch.com.
The Recent Review of the Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause - ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Do You Bleed After Sex? When to See a Doctor - health.clevelandclinic.org
Vaginal atrophy - mayoclinic.org