Bleeding During Sex: Is Something Wrong?

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Seeing blood when you don’t expect to can be alarming, and bleeding during sex is no different. But what causes bleeding during sex? Should you be worried?

In this complete guide, we’ll review all potential causes of bleeding during sex—both harmless and worrying—and help you figure out if you need to see a doctor. We’ll also discuss how to stop bleeding during sex. There’s even advice for vaginal bleeding during sex if you’re pregnant or if you are bleeding after anal sex.

Note: this article is focused on bleeding from the vagina or the anus. If you are bleeding from your penis, see a doctor.

 

What Causes Bleeding During Sex?

Is it normal to bleed during sex? The truth is that bleeding during sex is a fairly common phenomenon. There are many, many causes of bleeding during sex (or immediately after sex). While it’s completely normal to feel worried, bleeding during sex is not usually due to a serious underlying condition. This is especially true if you’re bleeding during sex with no pain.

Bleeding can happen during vaginal penetration with a penis, dildo, or finger. It could even happen during oral sex or through manual stimulation, depending on the cause of the bleeding. Bleeding can also happen during anal sex, and not just from penetration with a penis, but also from penetration with a toy, dildo, or finger.

What does it mean when you bleed during sex? It can mean a lot of different things. We’ll now review all causes of bleeding during sex. We’ll start with some harmless, common causes and discuss how to identify and address them.

 

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A little blood’s probably nothing to panic over.

 

7 Harmless Causes of Bleeding During Sex

Why am I bleeding during sex? Well, most causes of vaginal bleeding during sex are pretty harmless and very common. The most obvious cause of vaginal bleeding during sex is because you’re on your period, but there are plenty of other harmless possible causes for bleeding during sex while you’re not on your period at all.

 

Your Menstrual Cycle

You will bleed during sex while you are on your period. This is pretty straightforward. However, you might find that you also bleed during sex after your period. Even when you think it’s over, sex and/or orgasm can cause your body to expel some of the last remnants of the uterine lining.

This can also happen right before your period starts. When you have sex, things get jostled around and you might start shedding some menstrual tissue!

Additionally, if your cycle is irregular, you might not always be sure when bleeding is from your period and when it might be from something else.

Finally, you might also have some spotting during sex when you are ovulating, because the cervix is more sensitive at this time.

How to stop bleeding during sex: There’s not really a way to stop vaginal bleeding during sex due to the progression of your menstrual cycle. However, if you do feel like your cycle is irregular, you can see a gynecologist to discuss getting on hormonal birth control to regulate it.

 

Vaginal Tears

Vaginal tears are one of the main reasons for bleeding during sex. While vaginal walls are very flexible, they are made of tender tissues. This means that they tear easily. So if you are not quite lubricated enough, any kind of penetration can cause micro-tears in the vaginal walls, which may bleed after sex. You may experience vaginal bleeding during sex with no pain, or you might feel some pain during sex. You also might feel sore afterwards.

It’s very normal to need some extra lubrication for penetration. Birth control, your menstrual cycle, and medication you take can all impact the amount of lubrication your body produces during sex. Condoms also sometimes require some extra help in the lube department—latex is not, after all, particularly slick naturally.

How to stop bleeding during sex: If you think that vaginal tears are causing you to bleed during sex, introduce some extra lube to your penetration. You can also try spending more time on foreplay, but don’t feel bad if that doesn’t seem to solve your problem. Sometimes you won’t produce a lot of natural lubrication no matter how aroused you are, and that’s fine. There’s no shame in a little lube assist!

Just be sure to remember lube safety principles: avoid oil-based lubes (like coconut oil) on latex condoms, as it causes them to dissolve. Oil-based lubes may also cause vaginal irritation. And don’t use silicone lube on silicone sex toys, as it can degrade the sex toys.

Finally, if your vagina is really irritated, you may need to lay off any kind of vaginal penetration for a few days while it heals up.

 

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Let the lube flow!

 

Cervical Irritation

Another very common cause of vaginal bleeding during sex is minor irritation or trauma to the cervix from penetration. This is often caused by particularly deep or vigorous penetration and is not a serious medical issue.

Your cervix may be especially prone to bleeding after sex if you have cervical ectropion. This means that some of the cells that normally line the cervical canal are poking out on the other side. These cells are especially tender and so bleed easily when abraded. Cervical ectropion is a benign (not harmful) condition.

You may also be prone to cervical bleeding during sex if you have cervical polyps. Cervical polyps are noncancerous (harmless) growths on the cervix.

You may or may not feel pain with bleeding from the cervix. However, if you do feel pain, you will most likely feel it deep in your lower abdomen.

How to stop bleeding during sex: You can try different positions that don’t involve as deep of penetration. Positions with you on top work well for this problem because you have more control over the depth of the penetration. By contrast, doggy-style positions usually involve deeper penetration and are more likely to result in banging on your cervix. It may also help to start with shallower, slower penetration before moving to deeper penetration.

If switching up your sexual positions and techniques doesn’t seem to help, schedule an appointment with your gynecologist. If you have cervical ectropion, your gynecologist can cauterize the misplaced lining cells. And if you have cervical polyps, your gynecologist can remove them.

 

Hormonal Birth Control

There are a couple of ways that hormonal birth control methods can cause vaginal bleeding during sex:

  • They can adjust your hormone levels. You might find that you don’t produce as much natural lubrication when you are on hormonal birth control. This means you might experience vaginal micro-tears, which can bleed.
  • Your cycle might be irregular during the first few months of using a new hormonal birth control method. This means you may experience spotting or light bleeding at various times of the month. If you are sexually active, you may experience this as bleeding during sex, even if the bleeding is unrelated to the sex itself.

Some women report anecdotally that their IUD strings poke their vaginal walls or cervix during sex. While this is theoretically possible, it’s not likely to be a major cause of IUD-related vaginal bleeding during sex. It’s more likely that you’re just experiencing hormone shifts that are causing vaginal dryness or spotting.

How to stop bleeding during sex: If you are experiencing dryness, try using lube.

If your cycle is irregular and you’ve just started taking new birth control, wait a few months for things to normalize. But if you’ve been taking a birth control for 6+ months and things are still irregular, you might want to consider going to a gynecologist and switching methods.

Finally, if you’re worried about the placement of your IUD strings, you can ask your gynecologist to take a look and adjust if necessary.

 

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If you’re bleeding during sex, these little guys could be the culprit.

 

Menopause

When you go through menopause, your body will not produce as much estrogen. As a result, the tissues of the vagina become drier and thinner. This means you are more likely to get micro-tears in the vaginal walls during sex from friction, which causes vaginal bleeding during sex.

While vaginal atrophy is not a dangerous condition, if you are post-menopausal, you should see a doctor if you are experiencing vaginal bleeding during sex. This is because post-menopausal women are at greater risk for more serious conditions like cervical cancer that can also cause bleeding.

How to stop bleeding during sex: Your gynecologist can recommend the best vaginal moisturizers and lubes for you to help hydrate the vaginal tissues and prevent irritation.

 

Allergy/Irritation

Another potential cause of vaginal and/or cervical irritation is allergies. If you are using a condom, lube, or spermicide type that doesn’t agree with you, it can irritate the tissues of the vagina and cervix, which can cause bleeding during sex.

You can also irritate the skin of the vulva and vagina through vigorous washing or douching. This makes the skin fragile and more prone to bleeding. The vagina is self-cleaning, and douching disrupts the natural balance of healthy bacteria in the vaginal canal.

How to stop bleeding during sex: If you think the problem is an allergy, try switching to non-latex condoms and/or a different spermicide or lube. If you are currently douching, stop. Always remember to use gentle, non-perfumed soaps on the skin of the vulva.

 

Virginity

You may have heard that you will “always bleed” when you lose your virginity. This is not true; it’s perfectly normal to either bleed or not bleed when you first have penetrative sex.

You may have also heard that bleeding when you first have penetrative sex is due to your hymen breaking. This is unlikely for a lot of reasons. However, you might bleed because you are tense and not super-well lubricated, due to nerves. This causes friction against the vaginal walls, which can cause small tears. This can in turn cause vaginal bleeding during sex.

How to stop bleeding during sex: The more relaxed and lubricated you are during sex, the less likely you are to bleed due to vaginal irritation. So try to facilitate a relaxed environment by being with a partner you trust at a place and time where you aren’t worried about being interrupted. Using some store-bought lube isn’t a bad idea, either.

 

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The hymen’s not like a balloon: it doesn’t “pop” when you have sex.

 

11 Worrisome Causes of Bleeding During Sex

There are some times when vaginal bleeding during sex is indicative of an underlying medical issue. Some are less serious, and others are more so, but all require medical attention. Roughly in order from most likely to most rare, here are causes of bleeding during sex that should be addressed by a medical professional:

 

Vaginitis

Vaginitis is the inflammation of the vagina, typically caused by infection. It can be sexually transmitted in some cases, but it is not always. The most common causes are a yeast infection, bacterial vaginosis, or trichomoniasis (a parasitic infection that is sexually transmitted). Vaginitis can cause pain and light bleeding during intercourse. You will also most likely have unusual, unpleasant-smelling vaginal discharge, itching, and pain.

How to stop bleeding during sex: Go to a gynecologist for diagnosis of the cause of your vaginitis and treatment. Even though over-the-counter treatments for yeast infections are available, it’s still best to go to the gynecologist if you suspect a yeast infection. This is because if you try to self-treat for a yeast infection and it isn’t one, you’ll delay getting the treatment you really need and increase your risk of complications.

 

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

Urinary tract infections are very common. They can be caused by anything that can foster the growth of bad bacteria in the urethra and bladder. This includes wiping from back to front (which can move bacteria like E. Coli from the anus to the urinary tract), sexual intercourse, douching, holding your urine for a long period of time, and wearing tight and sweaty clothes.

A urinary tract infection UTI can cause blood in the urine. If you notice this after intercourse, you may worry that you are bleeding during sex. The bleeding isn’t necessarily directly related to sex, but it may appear that way. Other symptoms include pain or burning with urination, a feeling of constantly needing to urinate, and pain in the low back or abdomen. A fever is a sign that the infection has spread to your kidneys.

How to stop bleeding during sex: You normally treat a UTI by taking antibiotics, so you will need to go to a doctor. The doctor will test your urine and prescribe antibiotics as necessary. If you have chronic UTIs, your doctor can help create a treatment regimen for you.

Peeing after sex, wiping front to back, and drinking lots of water can all help prevent UTIs if you are prone to them.

 

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Drinking lots of cranberry juice may also help!

 

Bacterial and Parasitic STIs

There are several bacterial STIs that could cause bleeding during sex, including gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis. Trichomoniasis (or trich) is an STI caused by a parasite that has similar symptoms to gonorrhea and chlamydia.

Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trich are often asymptomatic. When they are symptomatic, they can cause bleeding during sex. Additionally, you may experience pain (especially pain with intercourse), itching, and vaginal discharge with an unusual color, texture, or odor. If untreated, these conditions can cause PID (see below for more information on PID).

Syphilis is currently relatively rare in the United States. However, it is highly contagious and very serious if left untreated. Syphilis is spread through sores that, while usually painless, bleed easily. These sores often appear on the genitals. If these sores are rubbed during sex, they may bleed.

How to stop bleeding during sex: If you are experiencing unusual discharge, itching, pain (during sex or not), and/or spotting or bleeding during sex, see a gynecologist for diagnosis and treatment. If you notice any unusual sores near your genitals, anus, or mouth after sexual activity, see a gynecologist to be tested for syphilis.

Additionally, if you are sexually active, you should be tested for STIs annually. This will allow you to be treated if you have asymptomatic STIs and prevent the development of PID.

 

Viral STIs

Viral STIs like Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV-1 or HSV-2) can also cause bleeding during sex. According to the CDC, HPV is the most common STI. It is frequently asymptomatic but may cause unusual vaginal discharge, burning or itching around the vagina and vulva, pain with intercourse, genital warts, and bleeding during sex (typically from the irritation of genital warts).

Herpes is also a very common STI that, again, is often asymptomatic. However, if you do have symptoms, you will have an outbreak of painful sores. If these are rubbed during sex, you will bleed. Additional possible symptoms include burning during urination, itching, genital pain, swollen lymph nodes in the pelvis, and flu-like symptoms.

If you do have an unusual rash, sores, or warts near your genitals, avoid sexual contact until you get an OK from a doctor.  This will help you avoid transmitting your infection to your partner(s).

How to stop bleeding during sex: If you have herpes sores or genital warts, see a doctor for treatment. Note that while herpes cannot be cured, it can be managed and suppressed.

 

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Viruses: small but mighty (in a bad way).

 

Uterine Fibroids

Fibroids are benign growths in the uterus. They are fairly common and often cause no symptoms. Potential symptoms include long, heavy periods, spotting between periods, trouble urinating, constipation, and pain in the pelvis, back, or legs. You may also develop anemia from your heavy periods.

Fibroids can cause spotting between periods. Depending on the location of the fibroid, it can also cause you to bleed after intercourse.

Women can have multiple fibroids. Fibroids can be small or quite large, and they can grow or shrink over time. Though it is not common, fibroids can also cause problems with fertility or pregnancy.

How to stop bleeding during sex: Your gynecologist should be able to feel any fibroids during your regular pelvic exam. They may also deploy various imaging techniques to get a better view of the fibroids.

If you aren’t experiencing many bothersome symptoms, your gynecologist may recommend simply keeping an eye on the fibroids. If you do have symptoms, certain medications can shrink the fibroid or address symptoms. Fibroids can also be removed through a variety of surgical procedures.

 

Uterine Polyps

Uterine polyps are growths in the lining of the uterus. While they are usually harmless, they sometimes develop into cancer. They are most common in older women.

Uterine polyps can cause irregular menstrual bleeding and spotting, including vaginal bleeding during sex. Uterine polyps can also cause infertility, heavy periods, and postmenopausal bleeding.

How to stop bleeding during sex: If a uterine polyp is causing symptoms, your gynecologist can remove it. They may also wish to perform a biopsy to assess whether the polyp is benign or cancerous.

For small polyps, your gynecologist may recommend waiting to see if the polyp resolves on its own.

 

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Turns out a lot of stuff can grow in your uterus other than a baby.

 

Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a common condition in which some of the tissue that lines the uterus (the endometrium) grows outside of the uterus. Clumps of endometrial tissue (called implants) may grow throughout the organs of the pelvis (and more rarely in locations further afield, like the lungs). This tissue thickens and disintegrates every month just like the endometrial tissue on the inside of the uterus. But because there’s no way for the blood to escape from these implants, the process of thickening and disintegration is usually painful and can cause cysts and scar tissue to form inside the body.

In addition to vaginal bleeding during sex, endometriosis can cause a number of other symptoms:

  • Unusually painful, long, and/or heavy menstrual periods—may cause you to miss work or school
  • Irregular menstrual bleeding and spotting
  • Painful bowel movements, bloating, nausea, diarrhea, constipation
  • Painful urination
  • Pain during sex
  • Fatigue
  • Infertility (from scar tissue and cysts impacting the ovaries and fallopian tubes)

You may only have symptoms on your period. Otherwise, your symptoms will most likely be the worst while you are on your period. Researchers estimate that one in ten women of reproductive age have endometriosis.

How to stop bleeding during sex: The truth is that if you do have endometriosis, it’s likely that vaginal bleeding during sex will be among the least troublesome of your symptoms. The intense pain associated with endometriosis makes many women lose interest in sex completely, at least around the time that they are menstruating.

Endometriosis is difficult to diagnose; it requires a minor surgery to diagnose definitively. Sometimes doctors will prescribe conservative endometriosis treatment (like hormonal birth control) without a sure diagnosis to see if symptoms improve. Many women don’t discover they have endometriosis until they start trying to conceive.

There are two primary reasons for endometriosis treatment: to address the pain and other symptoms, and to address the potential fertility issues. To address your pain, your doctor may prescribe stronger pain medications, hormonal birth control, or other medications that manage your hormones. Hormonal treatments can help slow the growth and spread of endometrial tissue. Your doctor may also recommend surgery to remove the endometrial tissue.

To address fertility issues, your doctor may recommend IVF or other assistive reproductive technologies. You may also undergo surgery to remove endometrial implants.

 

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

Untreated STIs (and, rarely, other untreated infections) can cause PID. Pelvic inflammatory disease is an infection of the reproductive organs (the ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, and/or cervix). If untreated, PID can cause infertility or even a life-threatening infection.

Douching, unprotected sex, and IUD insertion can all increase your risk of developing PID.

Bleeding during intercourse is a symptom of PID. Additional symptoms include pain in the abdomen and/or pelvis, heavy or unusual vaginal discharge, fever, painful urination, and difficult urination.

How to stop bleeding during sex: If you suspect that you have PID, see your gynecologist. If you do have PID, your gynecologist will prescribe antibiotics. Partner treatment is also important to prevent re-infection, even if your partner has no symptoms. Because PID is often caused by untreated cases of gonorrhea or chlamydia, it is critical that you receive an annual STI screening. This is true even if you have no symptoms.

 

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Get those antibiotics!

 

Skin Condition

The skin around the vulva is very delicate and can be prone to infection and irritation. Conditions like lichen sclerosus, contact dermatitis, eczema, and psoriasis can impact this area. If you have a dermatologic complaint on your vulvar skin, the friction of sexual activity could abrade the skin and cause bleeding during sex.

In addition to the bleeding, you will most likely have a visible rash or lesion. You might also experience itching and pain, especially during intercourse.

How to stop bleeding during sex: See a gynecologist or a dermatologist to address the underlying skin issue. Exposure to irritants, infection, and/or stress can cause vulvar skin conditions.

 

Pelvic Organ Prolapse

In pelvic organ prolapse, the ligaments and muscles that support your pelvic muscles (collectively called the pelvic floor) weaken such that they no longer support your pelvic organs. Your pelvic organs include your uterus, bladder, urethra, rectum, and lower bowel. The vagina can also prolapse into itself. In prolapse, one or more of these organs start to “droop” and then protrude down against your vaginal canal. Pelvic organ prolapse is most common after childbirth, when the muscles and ligaments of the pelvis are stretched and weakened.

Prolapse can cause spotting or bleeding from the vagina, which may include bleeding after intercourse. In addition, you will likely experience some combination of the following symptoms:

  • A feeling of pressure, fullness, pain or stretching in the groin, lower belly, or lower back.
  • Incontinence and/or urgency with urination
  • Pain during penetration
  • Constipation or other bowel problems
  • In more severe prolapse cases, you may see a bulge at the opening to the vagina.

How to stop bleeding during sex: There are several treatments for pelvic organ prolapse. Minor prolapse can sometimes be treated with physical therapy for the pelvic floor. Otherwise, you may need to wear a device called a pessary, which is inserted into the vagina and holds the protruding organs in place. Severe prolapse can also be treated with surgery.

 

Cervical Dysplasia and Cervical Cancer

Cervical dysplasia is the growth of precancerous unusual cells on the lining of the cervix. People with HPV are at greater risk of developing cervical dysplasia. Cervical dysplasia is a potential precursor to cervical cancer and places patients at greater risk of developing cancer. With that said, it is completely treatable when detected.

Cervical dysplasia is normally asymptomatic. However, if you do develop symptoms, abnormal bleeding is the most common sign. This includes vaginal bleeding during sex, heavier than normal periods, and bleeding post-menopause.

If cervical dysplasia is not detected, it may develop into cervical cancer. Like dysplasia, cervical cancer is often initially asymptomatic. The earliest symptom is typically abnormal bleeding. This includes vaginal bleeding during sex, heavier periods, spotting between periods, and bleeding after menopause.

When cervical cancer is more advanced, symptoms include:

  • Back, pelvic, or leg pain
  • Fatigue
  • Urine or feces seeping from vagina
  • Weight loss and lost appetite
  • Pain during sex
  • Unusual discharge
  • Trouble peeing
  • Swelling in one or both legs
  • Changes in bowel movements

How to stop the bleeding: Dysplasia is normally detected on a routine Pap test or cervical exam. In cases of mild cervical dysplasia, your doctor may recommend simply keeping an eye on the dysplasia to see if it resolves on its own. In more severe cases, you will likely need to have the abnormal cells removed to prevent the development of cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer can also be detected during a routine pap smear. Your doctor may perform additional tests to confirm the diagnosis, including a colposcopy and biopsy. The main treatments for cervical cancer include surgery to remove abnormal growths, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. While any kind of cancer is scary, cervical cancer is highly treatable when it is caught in the early stages. Because the early stages of cervical cancer often have few symptoms, it is important to follow the CDC’s recommendations for pap tests.

 

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And now here’s a cute dog to lighten the mood.

 

Bleeding After Sex During Pregnancy

Bleeding during pregnancy can be very alarming. You may be worried whenever you bleed during sex that you are miscarrying. However, one in five women experience bleeding after sex during early pregnancy, and most of those women will not miscarry.

You should still consult with a doctor when you are experiencing vaginal bleeding during pregnancy to be safe. You should also avoid sexual intercourse or anything that involves inserting something into the vagina until you get an okay from a doctor. But keep in mind that bleeding early in pregnancy is usually fairly harmless, and even later in pregnancy, many of the conditions causing it are treatable.

You may also be wondering if bleeding during sex is a sign of pregnancy. Some light spotting from implantation early pregnancy can be a sign of pregnancy, which you may perceive as bleeding during sex even though it doesn’t have anything to do with sex per se.

Here is what causes bleeding during sex while pregnant:

 

Tenderness in the Cervix

Pregnancy can cause the cervix to be particularly tender, especially if you have some uterine polyps. This can cause bleeding after intercourse. It does not mean you are at risk for miscarriage, however, you should still refrain from additional intercourse until you get an OK from the doctor, just because bleeding can indicate an underlying issue.

How to stop bleeding during sex: Do consult with a doctor if you are bleeding while pregnant to identify any potential issues and discuss how to manage the condition to protect your health and the health of the pregnancy.

 

Placenta Previa

In placenta previa, the placenta covers part or all of the cervix, which causes painless bleeding. This can include bleeding during sex. While placenta previa can be managed, it often results in early and/or c-section delivery. It also poses hemorrhage risk, so blood loss must be monitored closely.

How to stop bleeding during sex: See your doctor as soon as possible. They will create a treatment plan to help observe and manage your bleeding. You will most likely need to stop activities that can cause bleeding or contractions, like sex and exercise. Your doctor may place you on bedrest. You are also more likely to need a blood transfusion at some point in the pregnancy. It is also possible that you will end up spending some time at the hospital.

 

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Ocean pregnancy photoshoot not necessary.

 

 

Bleeding During Anal Sex

Vaginal bleeding isn’t the only kind of sex-related bleeding that can happen. If you have been the receptive partner in anal sex (or any kind of anal play), you may also experience some bleeding from your anus or rectum. While most bleeding during anal sex is benign, there are also some fairly serious causes.

 

Anal Fissures

Your anus is pretty tightly closed most of the time. This means that if your anus is not sufficiently prepared, anal penetration can cause small tears in your anus called anal fissures. It’s essentially like a small cut or laceration in the lining of your anus.

Anal fissures can cause pain and bleeding during anal sex and bowel movements. You might see a small amount of red blood on your toilet paper when you wipe. Your anus might also itch.

How to stop bleeding during sex: You don’t necessarily need to see a doctor if you have an anal fissure unless it doesn’t seem to be healing. To help your fissure heal, it’s important to prevent constipation by eating high-fiber foods, drinking lots of water, and getting some exercise every day.

Sitting in a sitz bath 2-3 times every day can also help speed healing. (A sitz bath is a tub of warm water filled several inches deep).

To prevent anal fissures, follow safe anal sex practices (link is a cartoon, but NSFW). This means working up from penetration with a small thing (like a finger) to a large thing (like a penis) instead of just jumping right in. It’s also important to use lots of lube (silicone lube is a good choice for anal play) and go very slowly. Stop if it hurts!

 

Hemorrhoids

Anal sex is not very likely to cause hemorrhoids, unless you are engaging in a lot of something that can really weaken the muscles back there (like anal fisting). However, if you already have hemorrhoids, they can cause bleeding during anal sex. They may also cause pain with anal penetration.

How to stop bleeding during sex: You can help prevent or stop bleeding from hemorrhoids during sex by going slowly and using lots of lube. However, in some cases you might have to wait for hemorrhoids to heal to make symptoms go away.

 

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Take care of your butt!

 

Anal STI Infection

You can get pretty much any STI in or around your anus or rectum through anal sexual activity. This includes syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, HPV, and herpes. From syphilis, HPV, and herpes, you may get sores, warts, or blisters around the anus that bleed during anal sex. From gonorrhea and chlamydia, your anus or rectum may bleed during anal sex.

Sometimes anal STIs are asymptomatic. However, other symptoms of an anal STI include:

  • Unusual growths around the anus
  • Itchy, painful anus
  • Pain and/or bleeding when defecating
  • Diarrhea, constipation, or changes in stool consistency/smell
  • Unusual anal discharge (mucousy or bloody)
  • Feeling of constantly needing to poop

Note that anal transmission of HIV is also a risk, but it’s unlikely to be the primary cause of bleeding. However, your risk of contracting HIV is increased when you have other STIs.

How to stop bleeding during sex: If you are having symptoms of an anal STI, see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment. Also be sure to seek regular (at least annual) comprehensive STI screening. Untreated STIs can cause complications even if they have no symptoms. For example, anal infection with HPV increases your risk of developing anal cancer.

Even though it can be difficult, being up-front about your sexual practices and preferences with your doctor will ensure that you receive the best healthcare possible. If you are a member of the LGBTQ community, here’s a resource on finding a doctor who is LGBTQ friendly.

 

Perforated Bowel

In very rare cases, anal sex can perforate your lower bowel. This means that the lower bowel has a hole in it; this causes the contents of the intestine to leak out into the abdominal cavity. This is a very serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. While one of the first things you’ll likely notice is bleeding after anal sex, you will also feel intense pain in your abdomen. You may develop a fever and chills. You may also start to feel nausea and experience vomiting.

How to stop bleeding during sex: If you are feeling very intense abdominal pain after anal sex, go to the emergency room.

To help prevent a perforated bowel from anal sexual activity, make sure that you only insert things that are butt-safe into the anus. This includes butt plugs, a clean finger with a trimmed fingernail, and a dildo or penis.

Make sure you are not inserting anything with a sharp edge up there.

 

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Safety first.

 

5 Signs You Should See a Doctor About Bleeding After Sex

When should you see a doctor for bleeding during sex? As you’ve noticed, pretty much any health complaint of the reproductive organs can cause bleeding during sex. This doesn’t mean, however, that bleeding during sex is always cause for worry; most bleeding after intercourse is harmless and resolves on its own.

But here’s when you should definitely see a doctor to be safe:

 

Heavy Bleeding

If you’re just spotting a little and that’s all, it’s probably not a big deal. But if you’re experiencing heavy bleeding during sex—soaking through pads and when you aren’t menstruating—see a doctor ASAP.

 

You Have Other Symptoms

If you have other symptoms in addition to the bleeding after sex, definitely see a doctor. This includes persistent pain with or without intercourse, itchiness, unusual discharge, irregular periods, and urinary or bowel issues.

 

It Won’t Go Away

Occasional light bleeding during sex probably isn’t cause for alarm. But if you’re asking yourself in frustration, “Why do I keep bleeding during sex?” it might be time to see a doctor. If it’s happening every time you have sex for multiple weeks and nothing you do (using lube, adjusting positions) changes it, guidance from a health professional may be helpful.

 

You Are Past Menopause

If you are past menopause, you must see a doctor if you are bleeding after sex. While it is most likely just vaginal atrophy, you are at higher risk for much more serious conditions like cervical cancer.

 

You Are Pregnant

Always call your OB-GYN if you are experiencing vaginal bleeding during your pregnancy, just to be safe.

 

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Dramatic masked pregnancy photoshoot also not necessary.

 

How To Prevent Bleeding During Sex

You can’t prevent every cause of bleeding during sex. However, there are some steps you can take to avoid it. These tips apply to both vaginal sex and anal sex.

 

#1: Use Lube

Whenever there’s going to be penetration, use lots of the appropriate kind of lube. This will help keep everything sliding and gliding and prevent any tearing of your soft tissues from friction.

 

#2: Practice Safer Sex

Safer sex practices will help keep STIs at bay. This means using condoms or other barrier methods unless you are in a completely sexually monogamous relationship. Remember to always switch to a new condom when you move to a new sex act. (So no sharing condoms between vaginal and anal penetration, oral and anal penetration, etc).

 

#3: Get Regular STI and Sexual Health Checkups

Even if you do practice safer sex, things still happen. So it’s important that you get regular STI and sexual health checkups. Don’t skip your annual visit with your gynecologist!

It’s important that your doctor is aware of your sexual orientation and sexual practices. This way, they are better able to advise you of your risk of certain STIs and other conditions and provide the right STI tests for you. This will keep minor sexual health issues from becoming complicated.

You can find LGBT+ friendly doctors at GLMA, a professional organization for LGBT+ and LGBT+-friendly health professionals.

 

#4: Have Your Partners Get Checked

Even if you take care of your own sexual health, if your partners aren’t getting regular check-ups and treatment, they can just re-infect you with the same STI again. So it’s important that your partners also get regular STI and sexual health checkups. This is especially true whenever you get treated for an STI: your partner should get tested and treated, too, and you should refrain from sex until both of your treatment courses are complete.

 

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Doctor visits for everyone!

 

Bleeding During Sex: The Bottom Line

If you were wondering, “why do I bleed during sex?” you should have a better idea now of some potential reasons why.

So what causes bleeding during sex? Most vaginal bleeding during sex is harmless and results from vaginal micro-tears, cervical irritation, or hormonal changes.

However, some causes of vaginal bleeding during sex need to be treated by a doctor. These include bacterial infections, STIs, uterine polyps and fibroids, and cervical dysplasia/cervical cancer.

Since there are bleeding during sex causes that are both benign and harmful, how do you know when to go to the doctor? You should go if any of the following apply to you:

  • Your bleeding is heavy and you do not think you are on your period
  • You are experiencing other symptoms—for example, significant pain and bleeding during sex, itchiness, unusual discharge, and so on.
  • You are bleeding during sex consistently over multiple weeks, and nothing seems to help.
  • Though it is probably benign, you should always see the doctor if you are bleeding during sex post-menopause.
  • You are pregnant.

And how can you prevent bleeding during sex?

  • Use lube and go slow—this applies to both vaginal and anal penetration.
  • Practice safer sex to avoid the spread of STIs.
  • Get regular STI and sexual health checkups
  • Make sure your partner or partners are getting checked regularly, too, so you don’t just keep infecting each other!

 

What’s Next?

Worried about other reproductive health symptoms? We can help you decode white vaginal discharge and brown vaginal discharge. But you don’t have to be worried about blue waffles disease!

Curious about the state of your hymen? Let us help you figure it out.

If you’re interested in some self-exploration, we have advice on how to masturbate and how to finger yourself.

Are you pregnant or trying to conceive? Here’s what to expect when you are 15 weeks pregnant, and what you need to know about being 34 weeks along.

 

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