While some of the causes of bleeding during or after sex don’t pose a serious threat, sometimes vaginal bleeding after sex can be a sign of a more serious issue.
What causes bleeding during and after sex?
Among other things, bleeding after sex can be a side effect of menopause, or it can be a sign of a serious condition. Vaginal bleeding after sex is also called postcoital bleeding and can be caused by:
- Cervical inflammation (cervicitis)
Cervicitis can be ongoing and symptomless. It can also be caused by a sexually transmitted infection that needs to be treated, like chlamydia or gonorrhoea.
- Vaginal dryness
During menopause, the hormones in your body change. The level of estrogen decreases and may lead to a decrease in vaginal fluid, resulting in vaginal dryness. Because of this, during sex, the friction can irritate the tissues that line the vagina and cause pain. This can be alleviated with the use of some water-soluble lubricant.
- A cervical polyp
Polyps are growths that are usually small (1 to 2 centimetres) and appear on the cervix where it meets the vagina. Most polyps are non-cancerous and can be removed by your OB-GYN during an appointment.
- Normal uterine bleeding
This can happen just before or just after your expected period. At the very beginning or the very end of your period, it’s normal to experience light bleeding after sex. This may appear as light spotting.
Cancer can affect the vagina, cervix, and uterus. Make sure you schedule regular appointments with your health care provider for Pap smears and pelvic exams, which can help detect early signs of cancer.
When to see a health care provider
Bleeding after sex can be fairly common. Health care providers tend to be more concerned when a pregnant person is bleeding after sex or when they are postmenopausal and bleeding after sex. However, heavy bleeding after sex is only normal if it is related to your period.
Pay attention to how often you need to change your pad or tampon and if you are passing any clots. If you’re experiencing heavy bleeding after sex that’s not related to your period, it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. This is especially true if you need to change your pad or tampon every hour and/or are passing clots larger than a quarter. If you cannot get in to see a health care provider, a visit to the emergency department may be necessary.