Nothing kills the mood like discovering blood on your sheets after sex. Bleeding after sex isn’t always a sign of serious health concerns.
Most of the time, light bleeding after sex is not a cause for concern, but it’s still worth bringing it up with your doctor so they can evaluate what’s causing it and what to do about it if needed.
Dr Sherry Ross, OBGYN and author of She-ology, the Definitive Guide to Women’s Intimate Health, explains that there are many reasons why someone might experience vaginal bleeding after intercourse. The most common are vaginal dryness or tearing, but it could also be the result of a more serious condition.
Bleeding after sex can also be an indicator of cervical cancer or polyps. This is a condition that’s typically found in women over 40 and can cause pain, clotting, and bleeding during and after intercourse. The risk of this is higher for women who have had a child or are currently pregnant, but it’s not uncommon for women of all ages to have polyps in their vagina. If these polyps are causing the bleeding, your doctor may recommend surgery or medicine to remove them.
Another cause of bleeding after sex is cervicitis, a condition in which the cells of the cervix become inflamed or infected. It’s often caused by bacteria or a virus, but it can also be related to birth control pills or an imbalance of natural bacteria in the vagina. Usually, the symptoms of this condition resolve on their own after a few days. However, if you notice that it’s happening every time you have sex or is worsening or getting worse over time, it’s a good idea to seek professional help right away, advises Dr. Rainford.
Some causes of bleeding after sex, such as vaginal dryness or tearing, can be treated by changing your lifestyle and using lube or seeing your OBGYN to get tested for STIs (sexually transmitted infections). Other causes, such as cervical dysplasia or endometriosis, can require more serious treatment, but they’re usually treatable with a visit to a doctor or specialist.
Postcoital bleeding is most common in women who are menstruating, but anyone who engages in sexual intercourse can have it. The source of this bleeding can be a variety of things, including the cervix, urinary tract, and vaginal canal. It’s not unusual to feel a little uncomfortable or nervous about going to a doctor about this issue, but it’s important to keep in mind that if the bleeding is severe or frequent, it’s a good idea to speak with your doctor immediately.
When you do go, expect that the doctor will do a pelvic exam and will ask questions about your health history. They will also likely order a pap smear, pregnancy test, and vaginal cultures to check for STIs, as well as to determine what’s causing the bleeding. If you’re experiencing bleeding after sex, don’t delay in seeking professional help. It’s very likely that your doctor will want to examine you and an examination is the best way to find out what’s causing the bleeding, says Dr McKenna.