Is Post-Sex Bleeding Ever Okay? We're Diving Into It

Picture this: you're relishing in that few minutes of post-coital bliss with your partner, both of you coming down from that orgasmic high, only to find out that there's a big red spot in the sheets that came from your vagina.

Sex is messy, we get it. Different bodily fluids are involved, from discharge and semen to saliva and other genital secretions — but it's extra alarming when blood is thrown into the mix. Bleeding post-intercourse is more normal than you think, with 45 to 63 percent of postmenopausal vagina owners noting that they experience vaginal bleeding after doing the deed. Dr. Constance Young, assistant professor in the division of gynecologic specialty surgery at Columbia University Medical Center, told Refinery29 that in some cases, it's not a cause for panic unless it happens quite frequently. "You should be concerned if you're bleeding after sex every time you have intercourse, and it seems like the bleeding is heavier over time," she said.

Of course, even though post-coital bleeding is not considered unusual, it's not exactly something welcomed, especially if it's your first time. And while no one other than your doctor can really pinpoint why exactly it happened to you, it may offer you some relief to discover some of the common causes of post-sex spotting.

When is post-sex bleeding considered normal?

For people with vaginas who haven't experienced menopause yet, post-coital bleeding commonly happens if you engage in sexual intercourse in the days nearing your period. Dr. Jacques Moritz, OBGYN and medical director of Tia Clinic, explained to Self that it's usually because "the uterine lining gets so thick, and when the uterus moves around a lot during intercourse, some cells will come off." If you're having rough sex, you're also likely to experience bleeding, especially if your partner hits your cervix repeatedly.

If you notice that your vagina is unusually dry, that could be a cause, too. Dr. Catherine Bevan, OBGYN and division director for Texas Health Care, shared with PopSugar that vaginal dryness is common among menopausal, postmenopausal, and breastfeeding patients since their bodies are not producing a sufficient supply of estrogen. It's also possible that you can have polyps, which Dr. Claire Bailey, a consultant OBGYN, characterizes as "benign fleshy growths" that develop on the cervix. "These growths bleed with contact, like penetration," she told Cosmopolitan, but clarified that they can be removed in an outpatient procedure.

If it's your first time having sex, or your first time after a long while, you shouldn't be surprised with a little bleeding as well. Obviously, if it's your first time, your hymen, aka the thin piece of skin located at the entrance of your vagina, will break. On the flip side, if it's been some time since you've engaged in intercourse, your vagina may be hypersensitive, resulting in microtears that lead to bleeding.

When it's time to book that doctor's appointment

Post-sex bleeding may not be uncommon, but per Dr. Sloane York, an OBGYN at Rush University Medical Center, you may want to pay the hospital a visit if the bleeding is heavy or if it's associated with pain that standard medication can't handle. "Your doctor will ask you questions about your periods, the frequency and amount of bleeding, if you have other irregular bleeding besides just after sex, and if you have pelvic pain, fevers, or other issues," she told Allure, adding that your physician will also likely perform a series of tests to rule out cervical cancer or STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhea.

The worst-case scenario is they discover cervical cancer. Dr. Philip Brzozowski, an OBGYN, pointed out to Cleveland Clinic that post-coital bleeding is experienced by 11 percent of people with cervical cancer. And while the big C word sounds scary, he noted that it's curable as long as you do your due diligence. "Cervical cancers are preventable in most cases as long as you follow up with your gynecologist and have a routine screening done," he said. "Cervical cancer tends to be very slow-growing over many years."

You know your body best out of everyone, so you're the only one who can determine whether something abnormal is happening or not. If you think the post-coital bleeding you've experienced is something a professional should look into, then don't hesitate to consult with your doctor.