Bleeding during sex can be alarming, but it is more common than you might realize. Here’s what you should know about what causes postcoital bleeding.
You’ve just had incredible sex and you feel like you’re on top of the world. But then something catches your eye and you look down to see a red spot on the sheets. Closer examination reveals that it’s blood, but your period isn’t supposed to start for two weeks! Your first inclination may be to panic, but bleeding during sex isn’t that uncommon. It’s probably harmless, but here are a few things you should know about postcoital bleeding and when it might be an indication of a sexual health problem.
Is It Normal to Bleed During or After Sex?
It’s estimated that up to 9% of menstruating women experience post coital bleeding. There are a variety of things that bleeding after sex, which we’ll go over in a minute. But you don’t need to feel embarrassed just because you have light bleeding after sexual intercourse.
It is important not to completely discard vaginal bleeding after sex as harmless, though. There is a slight possibility that seeing blood on your sheets or in your underwear after sexual intimacy could be a sign of something more serious.
What Can Cause Bleeding After Sex?
The cervix (the tube-like part of the uterus that is located inside the vaginal canal) is where most causes of bleeding during sex start. Cervicitis is inflammation of the cervix that can cause abnormal bleeding during or after your intimate moments. Cervicitis is usually nothing to be concerned about, but it can become an ongoing problem.
In some cases, cervicitis can develop as the result of a sexually transmitted infection like gonorrhea or chlamydia. If this is the case, treatment is necessary. Sexually transmitted diseases don’t typically go away on their own, and leaving them untreated can cause worsening health issues.
Other common causes of bleeding during sex include:
Cervical polyps: These are small growths on the cervix and are usually non-cancerous. They can be removed with surgery.
A vaginal or cervical infection: These are sometimes caused by sexually transmitted diseases, but not always.
Too much friction during sex: Yes, some friction is a good thing, but not when you don’t have enough lubrication due to vaginal dryness! Too much friction from vaginal dryness can irritate the vaginal tissue and lead to irregular bleeding during and after sex. Vaginal dryness is often caused by hormone imbalances that can occur at any time during childbearing years, in the years leading up to menopause, during menopause, or after menopause.
Genital sores: These generally come from herpes or other types of STDs.
Normal menstrual bleeding: This is likely if you are starting your period or are at the tail end of it.
Pelvic organ prolapse: When pelvic organs descend or droop lower than they should, it is called pelvic organ prolapse. This is a potential cause of vaginal bleeding during sex.
Cervical ectropion: When you have cervical ectropion, your cervix’s inner lining protrudes through the opening of the cervix and begins to grow on the outside of the cervix (on the side where the vaginal wall is located). Cervical ectropion doesn’t usually cause many symptoms, but bleeding after sex is one potential sign of the condition.
Pregnancy: Light uterine bleeding can be a sign of early pregnancy. Some women bleed during implantation. Implantation bleeding is usually more like spotting and appears pink or brown in color. Minor bleeding isn’t usually anything to worry about, and many women who experience it go on to have a healthy pregnancy. But bleeding during pregnancy can also be an indication of a pending miscarriage, placental abruption, ectopic pregnancy, or placenta previa. For these reasons, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider if you experience any abnormal uterine bleeding during pregnancy.
Cervical cancer: No one likes to use the big “C” word, but it’s important to know that vaginal bleeding during sex could be an indication of cervical or uterine cancer.
Though cervical cancer is one of the rarer bleeding causes during or after intercourse, it is still important to seek medical advice if you experience other common symptoms associated with the condition. Common symptoms of cervical cancer include pelvic pain during intercourse, problems having bowel movements or urinating, blood in the urine, or unusual vaginal discharge.
Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer in women. There are several different types of cervical cancer, including adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and mixed carcinoma. As with other cancers, cervical cancer has four different stages. For the best outcome, early detection and treatment are key. A pelvic examination and pap smear are usually sufficient to detect cervical cancer.
How Long Can You Bleed After Sex?
Bleeding during sex usually only lasts for a few minutes or a few hours at the longest (unless it marks the start of your menstrual period). Any prolonged or heavy bleeding after penetrative sex is unusual and may warrant a consultation with your doctor.
Can Stress Cause Vaginal Bleeding?
Stress is the culprit behind a lot of health problems, but postcoital bleeding is one of the lesser-known issues it can cause. Chronic stress is a huge womens health problem and can lead to hormonal imbalance. For many women, a hormone imbalance can lead to a variety of problems, including abnormal bleeding, pelvic pain associated with sexual intercourse or monthly periods, and mood swings.
You may also be at a greater risk of postcoital bleeding if you douche frequently, recently had a baby, or don’t get fully aroused before engaging in intercourse. The female sex drive can be finicky, but balanced hormones are essential for proper sexual function and desire.
How Can Bleeding Be Prevented?
If you want to prevent bleeding during or after sex, try the following:
Wait a few days after your period ends before being sexually intimate
Use a lubricant during sex
Spend more time in foreplay before penetration
Schedule an appointment to remove any cervical polyps from your uterus
Don’t have sex too soon after delivering a baby because your uterus needs time to rest and heal
You should also stop if sex ever becomes painful to you. If you know a medical condition is causing your postcoital bleeding, talk to your doctor about medications you can take or things you can do to prevent it from happening going forward.
How Can Bleeding Be Treated?
There are a few treatment/prevention options available to you if you experience bleeding after intercourse. They include:
Signs of an infection or pelvic inflammatory disease
Unusual vaginal discharge
Lower back pain
Vaginal itching or burning
Unexplained weakness or fatigue
Bladder or bowel symptoms
Vomiting or nausea
Burning or stinging during intercourse or while urinating
These could all be symptoms of one or more serious health issues that require prompt attention.
How Can My Partner Support Me?
A loving partner should understand your need for patience and special attention during sex. If vaginal dryness or insufficient arousal is responsible for your bleeding issues, it’s important to take the time necessary to get your body ready for intimacy. Hertime can help support the ideal balance of female hormones so you can have the mind-blowing sex you deserve. For more information about balancing your hormones, head over to Mixhers resources.
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