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Reasons why you’re bleeding after sex

4 min read
Cycle Care

Approved by

Vera Haitsma - Gynecologist
Bleeding after sex, while you’re not on your period? That’s really not something you want to deal with. It might also be scary when it happens to you, but there’s nothing to be afraid of. It’s more common than you think. We give you all the causes.

To determine what may be wrong, it’s important to look at the color and severity of the bleeding. Is the blood that comes out of your vagina immediately after sex   a bright red? And does the bleeding stop after a few hours? In many cases, this indicates a problem with the cervix. If the bleeding lasts for half a day up to a whole day and/or is brown in color, the problem is usually in the uterine wall. In both cases: contact your GP or gynecologist.

Cycle lists the possible causes of postcoital bleeding down below.

Breakthrough bleeding

When you’re on the pill, you can occasionally experience bleeding between two menstrual periods. This is also called breakthrough bleeding. This can happen during  intercourse. In this case, it’s not the penetration that causes the bleeding, but rather the movements you make.

First time

50% of women  bleed during and/or after losing their virginity. This can be the reason you‘re bleeding, but it doesn't have to be. It’s important to know that the hymen isn’t a membrane that closes the vagina, but rather a smooth piece of tissue at the beginning of the vagina. If you’re bleeding after your first time, it’s probably not because the hymen teared, but because the sex was a little too rough.

Polyp or cyst

We’ll start with good news: bleeding that occurs in the cervix is usually benign. It’s often caused by polyps (abnormal tissue growth) or cysts (cavities filled with fluid, blood or mucus). These can be removed with a minor surgery.

STI

Bleeding after sex is in some cases a symptom of chlamydia or gonorrhea. Chlamydia causes the cervix to become inflamed. When this happens, the blood vessels within the cervix swell and can burst upon penetration. The result: blood loss. The gonorrhea bacteria can infect the vaginal mucosa and cause discharge, (abdominal) pain, and blood loss. You can have yourself tested for these two STIs by getting a pap smear test at, among others the GGD or your GP. If necessary, they’ll prescribe you antibiotics to treat the STI.

Want to read more about STIs? You can do so here. More information about chlamydia? We wrote a separate article about this STI here.

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

Pelvic inflammatory disease can also be the reason why you’re bleeding after sex. In addition you oftenhave a fever and abdominal pain. This kind of infection can be the result of an STI, but it doesn’t have to be. Sometimes there are just harmless bacteria in and around your reproductive organs, for example if you have previously had a pelvic infection or if the cervix has been damaged after childbirth, abortion or miscarriage. An infection like this is fairly easy to treat with antibiotics. So don’t keep walking around with it, because then it can have more serious consequences such as reduced fertility.

Vaginal dryness

Penetration when you’re not wet, that feels awful and causes wounds. An absolute no-go!

Vaginal dryness is something that especially women in the menopause can suffer from (it doens’t have to), because the vaginal mucosa becomes drier and more sensitive. It could also be that you simply haven’t done enough foreplay yet and you’re just not aroused enough. You can use lube in both cases, although we don’t recommend using lube when you’re not aroused. It’s better to just kiss and caress each other a little longer (or whatever turns you on of course) until you’re ready. When aroused your vagina, in addition to getting wet, swells (just like the penis). This is to make room for the penis, and also to work as a kind of ‘bumper’. Do you have a wound in your vagina? Then wait with penetration until it’s healed again. And remember: sex is more than just penetration!

Need more tips? Read more about what you can do about vaginal dryness here.

Cervical ectropion

Ectropion is not an abnormality but a so-called physiological phenomenon. A mouthful, but it basically means that it’s a natural process in your body and not a disease. Despite it being a natural process, you can still suffer from it. Here’s why: the cervix is lined with glandular mucosa that makes a mucus plug. The outside of the cervix is smooth mucosa. When you have cervical ectropion, the area where those 2 mucosa connect is on the outside of the opening of the cervix. This can happen, for example, during pregnancy or when taking the pill. The glandular tissue on the border between the inside and outside of the cervix is more sensitive and can bleed easily. If the bleeding is persistent, the gynecologist can treat cervical ectropion. Stopping the pill (and using other birth control) could also help reduce the symptoms.

Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a chronic condition in which tissue that is just like the lining of the uterus is found in areas outside the uterus. For example, it can be found on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, peritoneum, bladder or intestines. The pieces of tissue also follow the menstrual cycle and will therefore bleed every month. This can cause extremely painful periods, intestinal problems, pain during sex and fertility problems.

When it also appears on your cervix, it can cause bleeding after sex.

Childbirth

If you just gave birth it’s not surprising that you lose some blood during or after sex. This can be because your vagina tore while bringing a baby into this world, but hormones can just as well be the culprit. We believe that it’s not something you need to worry about.

Do you have doubts or questions about sex after childbirth and when you can have sex again? Read our article with tips.

Cervical cancer

Bleeding during or after sex is annoying, but in most cases harmless. However, there are rare cases in which there is something more going on, such as cervical cancer. Is your bleeding heavy and/or persistent? Don’t hesitate to ask your GP to refer you to a gynecologist. They will start by making a pap smear test near the cervix and if they find abnormal cells further research will follow. If you’d like to read how this all works, read this extensive article about the possible results of a papsmear and the treatment options.

 

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