Vaginal bleeding is something we all experience at least once a month unless you haven’t had your period yet or have reached the age of menopause. If you’re experiencing vaginal bleeding when you aren’t on your period, though, there could be reason for concern.
Sometimes sex can cause vaginal bleeding, and it can be uncomfortable to talk about it. At Rael, we’re tackling the hard subjects so you can understand your body better and make good decisions about your health.
Let’s talk about what happens if you bleed after having sex, when you should see a doctor, and how you can get relief from vaginal discomfort at home.
Bleeding After Sex: Why It Happens
It’s not completely uncommon to bleed after sexual intercourse, especially if you have a particularly intense sesh. However, anytime you experience vaginal bleeding that isn’t related to your period, there can be cause for concern.
Here are five reasons why you might be experiencing bleeding after sex.
1. It’s Your First Time
Your first time can be amazing, but most of the time...it’s kind of awkward. No one can really tell you what to expect, and every experience is different. However, one thing is pretty common: vaginal bleeding.
Your vaginal opening is partially covered by a thin piece of skin called the hymen. Although it’s possible for your hymen to tear from other activities (like sports, injuries, and even tampon use), most of the time, it tears the first time you have penetrative sex.
The hymen tearing causes vaginal bleeding that can happen immediately after, or a day or two after you have sex for the first time. This will normally look more like spotting and should only last a very short period of time, like a day.
2. You’re On Your Period
Being on your period can cause you to experience bleeding after you have sex. Sometimes this can come as a surprise, especially if you aren’t keeping track of your monthly cycle. It’s possible for you to have sex and start your period simultaneously, resulting in vaginal bleeding.
If you’re already having your period, having sex may cause any blood hanging out in your vagina to come out, resulting in vaginal bleeding during and after you have sex.
3. Vaginal Dryness
Almost 20 percent of women between the ages of 18-50 experience vaginal dryness at some point during their lifetime. That means it’s really common and something you shouldn’t be afraid to talk about with your partner or your doctor.
Vaginal dryness can make sex painful and can also result in bleeding after sex. If vaginal dryness is to blame, you probably have symptoms like:
- Trouble producing enough lubrication to make sex comfortable
- Discomfort during sex, no matter what position you are in
- Feeling irritated and raw after having sex
- Vaginal bleeding after sex
If you experience vaginal dryness, you can develop irritation and sensitivity inside your vagina and your vulva, both of which can result in bleeding during and after sex.
4. Vaginal Infections
It’s possible to develop a vaginal infection and not know you have one. Although most vaginal infections come along with some pretty noticeable (and unwanted) side effects like burning, itching, and discharge, you can have an infection that causes bleeding without knowing anything is wrong.
Infections of the cervix and vagina can be caused by sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or can develop due to imbalances in the vaginal microbiome.
The vaginal microbiome refers to all the healthy bacteria living inside your vagina and on your vulva. This bacteria helps keep your vaginal pH balance and helps protect you against developing yeast infections or conditions like bacterial vaginosis.
When your vaginal microbiome becomes unbalanced, you can develop an infection that could cause you to experience vaginal bleeding after you have sex. Risk factors for developing an infection include:
- Using douches
- Wearing tight, damp clothing (like gym clothes) too long
- Not changing your tampons or pads properly
If you suspect you have a vaginal infection, you may notice symptoms like unusual discharge, unpleasant odor, burning, itching, and irritation around your vulva, and pain during sex.
5. Cervical Problems
It’s rare, but sometimes experiencing bleeding after sexual intercourse can happen because of a deeper, more serious issue with your cervix. You may not know that you have a cervical issue unless you experience bleeding after you have sex.
Issues with your cervix that can produce vaginal bleeding include:
- Cervical ectropion, a condition that causes the cells that line your cervix to become hard and rigid, which can make sex painful and cause bleeding.
- Cervical polyps. You can develop benign growths on your cervix that may or may not need removal by your doctor. These growths can cause vaginal bleeding and can happen because of hormonal changes.
- Cervical cancer. Rarely, vaginal bleeding after sex can indicate cervical cancer but can often be the first symptom if you have cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is very treatable, sometimes with a simple outpatient procedure.
Cervical issues are common, and it’s best to see your doctor if you suspect you could be suffering from an issue with your cervix that is causing vaginal bleeding.
What To Do If You Bleed After Sex
First things first, make an appointment to see your doctor. If you aren’t bleeding because you’re having your period, you need to have an exam to rule out cervical issues. If you’ve had sex for the first time, see your doctor make sure you’re using the correct form of contraception and protection.
What To Expect at the Doctor
Going to the gynecologist can be scary, especially if it’s your first time. Don’t worry; it’s a completely normal experience, and talking with your doctor can give you peace of mind if you have vaginal bleeding.
Your doctor will discuss your medical history with you and ask you questions about your sex life and monthly cycle. Then, they’ll do a physical examination of your vagina and probably give you a pap smear, a painless procedure where your doctor collects cells from your cervix to test for infections and cancer.
If your vaginal bleeding is related to a change in hormones (like menopause), there are options for helping you get relief. Your doctor will help you decide what is best for you.
Once you’ve ruled out anything that needs medical attention, you can treat vaginal soreness and irritation at home.
If you’re prone to developing a little post-coital bleeding or irritation, there are remedies for getting more comfortable and feeling better right in the comfort of your own home. Here are four tips for getting relief.
1. Switch Positions
Just because your bestie swears that being on top changed her life doesn’t mean that position is best for you. If it causes you pain and irritation, try something new. Sometimes just switching positions is enough to help get rid of vaginal bleeding and make you more comfortable.
Sex should be enjoyable, and if you aren’t enjoying it, try something different.
2. Know When Your Period Starts and Stops
You can most definitely have amazing sex on your period, but if you don’t know when your period starts and stops, vaginal bleeding can be a surprise. Make sure you’re tracking your period to know when you start so you can be sure your vaginal bleeding is just the result of your cycle and nothing else.
3. Take Care of Your Vulva
Even missionary positions can be irritating if you have vaginal dryness or are just prone to vaginal irritation. If this sounds familiar, vulva care products are your new best friends. At Rael, we make products that help you get relief fast, without feeling goopy or sticky.
Rael’s Soothing Vulva Relief Gel is formulated with a blend of K-beauty favorites like natural hibiscus, cica extract, pH balancing lactobacillus aloe, and hyaluronic acid. Our gel is perfect for post-sex irritation because it absorbs quickly and helps restore your vaginal pH balance, helping you feel better fast.
4. Period Underwear
Period underwear is panties that look and feel just like your regular underwear but have an absorbent core that can hold period flow. Rael’s period underwear is absorbent enough to hold three tampons worth of menstruation, which means they can totally handle a little post-sex bleeding.
The best part-our period underwear is made from super comfortable, organic cotton to be gentle on your most sensitive areas. It’s like a warm blanket when you’re feeling a little under the weather.
Vaginal bleeding after sex can be common, but it can be a symptom of something a little deeper. If you experience bleeding after sex, see your doctor. Once you rule out any medical conditions, shop Rael’s lineup of vulva care products to get relief from vaginal irritation and discomfort fast.
Do You Bleed After Sex? When to See a Doctor | Cleveland Clinic