That comfortable, glowing feeling after sex can be shattered by sudden bleeding.
If you’ve just finished having intercourse, and it was a great experience, but you’re bleeding, alarm bells are likely going off. What causes bleeding after sex with no pain?
Let’s take a look at understanding bleeding after sex and some possible reasons for it.
What Is Bleeding After Sex?
The condition of bleeding after sex is called postcoital bleeding. This is spotting or bleeding that occurs after intercourse that is not related to menstruation.1
If it’s happened to you, you’re not alone. The prevalence of postcoital bleeding is estimated to range up to 9 percent of menstruating women. About 30 percent of patients with postcoital bleeding also experience abnormal uterine bleeding and 15 percent have dyspareunia, which is when you suffer pain during intercourse.1
Postcoital bleeding mainly comes from surface lesions, such as cervical polyps. But it can also be a sign of something serious, including in some cases cervical cancer. The chance of cervical cancer in women with postcoital bleeding is 3.0 to 5.5 percent.1
What Causes Bleeding After Sex?
If you aren’t menstruating, the sight of blood after sex is alarming. It’s even more so if you don’t experience pain.
Here are some possible reasons:
It May Not Be Serious
Spots of blood could be the result of friction during sexual intercourse, such as that caused by inadequate lubrication or not enough foreplay.2 It could also be due to damage to the vagina, such as tears caused by childbirth.3 You may also suffer injury to the uterine lining during intercourse, especially if you’re taking oral contraceptives.2
It may even mean that your period has arrived without you knowing. But if you’re postmenopausal, vaginal bleeding at any time must be evaluated. See your doctor to be sure that the cause of your vaginal bleeding isn’t something serious.4
There are other possibilities. It could be vaginitis, an inflammation of the vagina that sometimes has other symptoms: discharge, itching and pain. Vaginitis is usually caused by a change in the balance of vaginal bacteria or an infection or reduced estrogen levels after menopause. Some skin disorders also can cause vaginitis. Treatment varies depending on the type of vaginitis you have.5
Occurring most often after menopause, some women suffer from vaginal atrophy. The thinning, drying and inflammation of the vaginal walls may be caused by a drop in estrogen.6 You could also be suffering from vaginal dryness, a problem for women at any age, although it is more common after menopause.7
It Could Be More Serious
There are other conditions that could cause bleeding after sex:
- an infection, such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)2
- endometriosis, which like PID can cause abnormal uterine bleeding
- a sexually transmitted infection (STI), such as chlamydia3
- cervical or endometrial polyps (benign or non-cancerous growths in the womb or the lining of the cervix)3
- uterine fibroids, which along with polyps can cause bleeding between menstrual cycles
- cervical ectropion (also known as cervical erosion), where there is an inflamed area on the surface of the cervix3
Since there are a number of causes that could be associated with the symptom of bleeding after sex, it’s vital that you see a health care professional for an accurate diagnosis. Your pelvic health is vital to your overall health.
The Danger of Cancer
Don’t be too alarmed, since most patients with postcoital bleeding do not have cancer, or what doctors call “an underlying malignancy.”1 But you still need to be cautious, and ensure you’re receiving proper medical care and getting your regular examinations, such as cervical screening tests.3
In rare instances, bleeding after sex can be a sign of cervical or vaginal cancer.3 Abnormal vaginal bleeding can also be a sign of endometrial (uterine) cancer.8
Some women with postcoital bleeding don’t even have an obvious source for their bleeding, and symptoms naturally resolve themselves.1 But that doesn’t mean you should ignore bleeding after sex.
See a Doctor
If you have experienced bleeding after sex, even without feeling pain, it’s worth seeing a doctor. Use our Physician Finder to seek out a women’s health specialist, and ensure you have a proper examination, diagnosis, and annual screenings. It’s important to diagnose and treat your health concerns.