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

by Eileen Bailey Health Writer

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 Ectropion

Cervical ectropion is a benign (not cancerous condition) that occurs when the cells that line the inner cervix are pushed to the outer cervix. These cells are normal, but they are redder and more sensitive than the other cells on the outer cervix, and can bleed with friction from sex. Cervical ectropion can be diagnosed by your family physician or gynecologist with a speculum exam.

Cervical ectropion is fairly common in younger women, during pregnancy, or in those taking birth control containing estrogen.

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.

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.

Eileen Bailey
Meet Our Writer
Eileen Bailey

Eileen Bailey is an award-winning author of six books on health and parenting topics and freelance writer specializing in health topics including ADHD, Anxiety, Sexual Health, Skin Care, Psoriasis and Skin Cancer. Her wish is to provide readers with relevant and practical information on health conditions to help them make informed decisions regarding their health care.