Bleeding During or After Sex: What's Causing It?

Health Writer
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If you notice you are bleeding either during or after sex, it’s time to make an appointment to see your gynecologist. There are several possible causes, and it’s important for your doctor to determine what the reason is for the bleeding and make sure you receive the right treatment.

Noticing blood post-coitus can be a frightening experience, but it’s important to know that many causes are minor or easily treated. Read on to learn about some of the potential causes.

Cervical erosion

Although the name may sound scary, cervical erosion (also called cervical ectropion) is a benign (not cancerous) condition caused by inflammation on the neck of your uterus where the lining of the cervical canal extends into the opening of your cervix.

This condition can be caused by trauma, infection, or chemicals, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Because the cervical cells are inflamed, friction from sex can cause them to bleed.

Cervical erosion is more common in younger women, during pregnancy, or in those taking birth control because of higher estrogen levels.

Sexually transmitted infections

Some sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can cause bleeding during or after intercourse. Gonorrhea, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis all affect cervical cells and can also cause vaginal discharge and light bleeding, usually after sex. Left untreated, some STIs can cause infertility.

Benign polyps

Noncancerous growths called polyps are a common cause of bleeding. These can appear on the cervix or in the uterus. Some polyps go away on their own, and some require surgery to be removed.

Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a chronic pain condition in which the tissue lining the uterus grows outside the uterus. It can also cause bleeding or spotting, according to the Office on Women’s Health. When the spotting occurs during or after sex, you may associate it with the sex rather than as a symptom of endometriosis.

Injury to the vaginal wall

Vaginal dryness during sex can cause scratches or tears that can lead to bleeding, according to National Institutes of Health. Using lubricants during sex can help prevent this. Low estrogen levels in peri- and post-menopausal women can cause thinning of the vaginal wall, which can make it more susceptible to tears or infection, according to Sutter Health.

Fibroids

Fibroid tumors are masses of fibrous tissue which grow in the uterus. They are usually benign and shrink once a woman hits menopause. Estrogen increases the growth of fibroid tumors. Many women never have any symptoms or require any treatment, but some women do experience light bleeding during or after intercourse.

Cancer

While not as common as some other causes of bleeding during or after sex, cancer can be a potential cause. Precancerous or cancerous growths can cause bleeding and should be checked immediately by a doctor. For example, bleeding after sex and pain during sex can be signs of cervical cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.

Bottom line

Because there are several different causes of bleeding during or after sex, it is important to see your doctor as soon as possible. An exam can rule out some of the above causes. For others, a biopsy and Pap test may be necessary.

Your treatment would depend on the underlying cause of the bleeding. For example, STIs are treated with antibiotics, while tears in the vaginal wall may simply need time to heal.

See more helpful articles:

5 Gynecological Symptoms You Should Not Ignore

How to Ease Painful Sex After Menopause

Vaginal Atrophy: Pain and Bleeding During Sex