Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are quite common among sexually active individuals, and they can cause a wide range of symptoms. One of the most alarming STD symptoms is bleeding, which can be caused by a few different STDs. However, not all STDs cause bleeding or spotting, and it’s important to learn what STDs causes vaginal bleeding so you can recognize them.
So if you’ve ever wondered “Can STDs cause spotting and bleeding?”, just keep reading to find the answer.
Can an STD make you bleed?
Bleeding from an STD can vary depending on each individual and the pathogen that causes the infection. In some cases, an untreated STD can make you bleed like a period, but it can also increase your typical menstrual flow or even cause bleeding after intercourse.
But as the Mayo Clinic reminds us, it’s also important to keep in mind that many cases of STDs don’t cause any symptoms at all. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t transmit the infection to your sexual partners or even develop long-term complications yourself. So even if you’re not showing any signs of an STD, you should always use a condom and get regular STD tests to prevent STD transmission.
What STD causes bleeding?
Most people with chlamydia never develop any symptoms, but in some cases, Chlamydia trachomatis causes inflammation of the cervix or cervicitis. According to Planned Parenthood, this inflammation increases the risk of bleeding or spotting between periods or after any penetrative sexual activity (including vaginal sex, fingering, or using penetrative sex toys).
Chlamydia can cause other symptoms, which according to the NHS can include:
- Painful urination
- Abnormal vaginal or penile discharge
- Lower abdominal or pelvic pain
- Pain during intercourse
- Swollen and/or painful testicles
- Rectal bleeding and/or discharge
- Painful bowel movements
Similarly to chlamydia, gonorrhea is another STD that can cause bleeding between periods or after intercourse. Gonorrhea is caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae, and co-infection with chlamydia and gonorrhea is relatively common.
According to MedlinePlus, the early signs of gonorrhea are typically mild or completely nonexistent. Later on, gonorrhea can also cause vaginal and cervical inflammation that can lead to bleeding or spotting after intercourse or between periods.
The American Academy of Family Physicians reports that other signs of gonorrhea can include:
- Abnormal vaginal discharge without an unpleasant smell
- Lower abdominal and pelvic pain
- Painful intercourse and/or urination
- Thin, yellowish penile discharge
- Rectal itching, pain, and/or discharge
- Rectal bleeding
Human papillomavirus (HPV)
STD spotting can also be associated with human papillomavirus (HPV) infections. HPV can cause genital warts, and precancerous and cancerous changes. Warts can bleed due to friction, especially during penetrative sex. And according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, abnormal vaginal bleeding is also one of the early signs of cervical cancer caused by HPV.
Trichomoniasis, caused by the parasite Trichomonas vaginalis, is also among the STDs that can cause spotting. According to Planned Parenthood, symptoms of trichomoniasis can include:
- Vaginal bleeding that can be thin, frothy, green, yellow, gray, and foul-smelling
- Bloody vaginal discharge
- Vaginal itching and irritation
- Genital swelling
- Painful urination
- Pain and/or burning during urination
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Urethral inflammation
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) itself isn’t an STD, but it can be a consequence of untreated STDs. According to the CDC, PID is an infection that affects the female reproductive organs. PID is typically caused by an untreated bacterial vaginal infection that spreads up to the uterus and to other reproductive organs, such as the ovaries and the fallopian tubes.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, causes of PID can include:
- Abortion complications
- Childbirth complications
- Insertion of a contraceptive intrauterine device (IUD)
- Pelvic procedures
The symptoms of PID can range from mild to severe, which can make it difficult to diagnose in some cases. According to the Mayo Clinic, signs and symptoms of PID can include:
- Lower abdominal or pelvic pain that can range in severity
- Abnormal uterine bleeding that happens during or after intercourse, and between periods
- Painful intercourse
- Abnormal vaginal discharge with an unpleasant smell
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Painful or burning sensation during urination
- Fever and/or chills
It’s important to get tested for STDs and seek medical assistance if you ever experience genital or anal bleeding, or other signs that make you suspect you have an STD.
You should remember that only a few people with STDs will ever experience bleeding or other symptoms, but this doesn’t mean that they don’t have an infection. Even people who are completely asymptomatic can have an STD and transmit it, and signs are often difficult to spot. At-home STD testing is a great option for regular STD screening, and it offers different benefits, such as the ability to get tested from your own home. You can learn more about at-home STD testing options at STDWatch.com.
Sexually transmitted disease (STD) symptoms - mayoclinic.org
Chlamydia Symptoms - plannedparenthood.org
Symptoms - Chlamydia - nhs.uk
Gonorrhea - medlineplus.gov
Gonorrhea: What You Should Know - aafp.org
HPV - Women’s Health Guide - publichealth.va.gov
What are the symptoms of trichomoniasis? - plannedparenthood.org
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) - my.clevelandclinic.org
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) - mayoclinic.org