What Causes a Woman to Bleed During and After Sex?

Updated on May 2nd, 2020
vaginal bleeding

Causes and Risk Factors

  • If you are between the sheets and suddenly you spy spots of blood on the bedsheets, it can be alarming (and a bit embarrassing if you’re in a new relationship).
  • Have you cut yourself? Did you miscalculate your period date? No, so why are you bleeding?
  • We ask the experts about possible reasons for bleeding during sex and what to do if you’re worried:

  Why Are You Bleeding During Sex?

  • According to research, 9 percent of women experience unexpected spotting or bleeding either during or after sex, and as many as 63 % of postmenopausal women, so if you do notice a few worrying spots of blood on the bedsheets, you are not the only one.
  • It’s very vital to say that if you do experience vaginal bleeding, you shouldn’t just ignore it. Never overlook unexpected bleeding from any part of the body, and vaginal bleeding is no different.
  • Whether it is a smear on the toilet paper or knickers (spotting) or an unexpected flow that needs some sanitary protection (bleeding) – it is essential to ask yourself some questions.
  • There could be multiple reasons why a woman may bleed after sex, including hormonal causes such as specific contraptions, early pregnancy, vulval skin problems(1), and many such.

Here are the most common reasons you could be bleeding during sex – or between periods:

1. Bleeding and Contraception

  • A new pill, a change in contraception or missed pills, could lead to unexpected bleeding.
  • Don’t just presume this is the case and move on.
  • Before you blame your contraceptive pill or similar, think whether you are up to date with smear tests or whether there is any chance (expected or possible) of infection.
  • If it happens just after a change in the contraceptive method, then that can be expected, but if it persists or comes out of the blue, then make sure you get it checked.

[Read: Do’s and Don’ts After Sex]

2. Bleeding and STIs

  • Bleeding during sex can also be a result of an STI (sexually transmitted infection). Unexpected bleeding, either after sex or in between your period, can be a sign of a sexually transmitted disease.
  • It’s a great idea to get it checked out promptly to exclude infections such as Chlamydia or Gonorrhea(2).
  • A lot of sexually transmitted infections are curable or treatable with antibiotics, and so the sooner you detect and treat them, the better it is.

3. Bleeding and Sensitive Skin

  • Polyps or sensitive patches could also be to blame for bleeding during or after sex, as these can be agitated by having sex, which may cause spotting.
  • Sometimes a small polyp on the neck of the cervix (womb) at the vagina’s top can bleed very likely after having sexual activity.
  • The skin on the cervix can become ectropion (very thin) and bleed on contact.

4. Bleeding and Pregnancy

  • Early pregnancy can also be the reason for the bleeding.
  • If you notice spotting between periods or during sex, take a pregnancy test as soon as you can.
  • A pregnancy test is crucial with unexplained bleeding to exclude early pregnancy and identify the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy, which requires urgent medical treatment.

[Read: Sex During Pregnancy]

5. Bleeding and Menopause

  • Age factor could also be a vital factor in vaginal bleeding or bleeding during sex.
  • As women age, especially postmenopausal, women experience vaginal atrophy – their delicate vaginal skin loses estrogen, becomes drier and thinner, this may result in bleeding.

6. Cervical Cancer and Bleeding

Cervical cancer
  • There are, of course, some other potentially severe reasons for vaginal bleeding.
  •  One cause of bleeding after sex can be because of changes or abnormalities in the neck of the womb, the cervix.
  • These changes may be inflammation due to infection or sometimes due to cell changes or growths, including, occasionally, cancer.
  • One cause of bleeding after sex can be because of changes or abnormalities in the neck of the womb, the cervix.
  • Stay up-to-date with smear tests, and examine to check the appearance of the cervix.
  • Bleeding after sex can often be due to these changes.

7. Bleeding and Endometriosis

  • Endometriosis could be responsible for vaginal bleeding.
  • A phenomenon in which the endometrium (tissue) lining the womb (or uterus) found on organs outside the uterus, is called Endometriosis.
  • Some women with Endometriosis may report irregular bleeding or spotting, but this is not usually the predominant feature of Endometriosis.
  •  It’s important to exclude other common causes of irregular bleeding before attributing unexpected bleeding to Endometriosis.

[Read: Men Sexual Problems]

Preventing Bleeding

  • Lubricants to your rescue! An unlubricated condom can cause bleeding due to its friction.
  • If you’re not using a condom, bleeding can mean you’re not lubricated enough.
  • Take things slow and gentle if it’s been a while since you’ve had sex.
  • Bleeding after sex, during sex—and intermittent bleeding, in specific—is something you should always bring up with your medical practitioner.
  •  If for any other reason, you feel like your doctor isn’t responding to you when you bring up concerns with bleeding, or if you feel wary about sharing your sex life with your gynecologist, find a new practitioner.
  •  The gynecologist’s clinic should always be the place you feel most comfortable spilling the nitty-gritty details about your vagina and your sex life.


Bleeding during sex can be unexpected and unnerving in equal measures – but there are many reasons this could be happening, and it’s unlikely to be anything serious, so try not to worry!

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