What It Means When You Bleed After Sex

While the release of bodily fluids is a natural part of sexual intercourse, it might come as a bit of a shock to look down and see blood as one of them. Having nothing to do with one's period, bleeding or spotting that occurs as a result of sex is referred to as postcoital bleeding, explains Medical News Today. If you've experienced this yourself, you're not alone. Postcoital bleeding most often comes from the cervix and affects many people who menstruate.

For people with vaginas, bleeding that occurs following intercourse doesn't always point to a health problem. Experts at Nebraska Medicine University Health Center explain that bleeding may instead be due to a lack of lubrication, vigorous sex, or tearing of the hymen if it's the person's first time having sex. Most frequently, however, postcoital bleeding is related to vaginal dryness, which can leave the fragile tissue inside the vagina susceptible to injury. In some cases, vaginal dryness may be a side effect of certain medications, or a reaction to chemical irritants like soaps with fragrance. Other potential causes include ovary damage or the genitourinary syndrome of menopause. Depending on the cause, there are natural remedies that may help combat vaginal dryness.

Other potential causes of postcoital bleeding

Infection may alternatively be the cause of postcoital bleeding. This can include yeast infections, vaginitis, or sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like gonorrhea or chlamydia, reports Medical News Today. Yeast infections, in particular, can cause not just cervical bleeding, but vaginal bleeding, too (via Forbes).

A person may also be more prone to bleeding after sex if they have benign growths known as polyps or fibroids within their cervix or uterus. In some cases, cervical polyps may cause heavier bleeding than expected. "Bleeding [from polyps] is usually bright red and can cause significant flow for some people," board-certified OB/GYN Dr. Alyssa Dweck told Well+Good. While polyps and fibroids are noncancerous, cervical dysplasia is a condition characterized by precancerous cell growth within the cervical canal, which has also been linked with postcoital bleeding. Furthermore, a person with abnormal tissue growth that occurs outside of the uterus rather than inside — a hard-to-treat condition known as endometriosis — may also be more susceptible to bleeding after sexual intercourse.

Why you might see blood in semen after sex

People with penises may notice blood in their semen after vigorous sex in the event of a ruptured blood vessel, particularly if that person takes blood-thinning medications, explains Medical News Today. While bleeding may initially seem forceful or sudden, it often resolves on its own within a few minutes. A person may also experience blood in their semen during or after intercourse if it's been a long time since they last had sex. Such bleeding may occur only once or may persist for a day or so. Blood in one's semen has also been linked with prostatitis, inflammation, cancer, liver disease, an enlarged prostate, and more.

Generally speaking, postcoital bleeding that happens only occasionally is not generally indicative of a health condition. In the event of heavy bleeding, or bleeding that is recurrent or does not subside within a few days, be sure to reach out to your physician. The same is true if you develop any additional urinary or pain symptoms.