6 Reasons Why You Bleed After Sex

Photographed by Kate Anglestein.
When you flick on the lights after sex, chances are you do a quick scan of the damage you and your partner left behind. Some clothes, maybe a condom, a few toys, unidentifiable stains, and sometimes blood. "Bleeding after sex is actually not uncommon," says Constance Young, MD, Assistant Professor, Division of Gynecologic Specialty Surgery at Columbia University Medical Center.
There's a whole bunch of reasons why you might have a little blood on the sheets, and it's usually not a huge deal unless it becomes a regular thing. "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," Dr. Young says. This could be a sign that you have a serious medical condition, including cervical cancer or an STI. "It is always wise to rule out a serious health condition before you assume it's something easy," she says. Make a mental note about how much you're bleeding, even if you just notice it once, so you can figure out if it's actually A Thing.
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The only way to figure out why you're bleeding after sex (and eventually stop it) is to go to your gynecologist and get a pap smear, chat about your contraception, and possibly take some other tests, too. "You need to identify what is causing the bleeding before you can look at solutions," Dr. Young says. To give you an idea of the possibilities, here are some of the reasons why you might bleed after sex.
1 of 6
You had rougher-than-usual sex.

Most often, you're bleeding after sex because there's a scrape or abrasion on the wall of your vagina, Dr. Young says. Your cervix can bleed a little, too, if it gets hit it too hard. Poor, vagina.
2 of 6
You have a vaginal infection.

Yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, and other infections can cause "cervicitis," which is just a fancy term for inflammation in your cervix, says Raquel Dardik, MD, clinical associate professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at NYU Langone Medical Center. Even though you might not be in horrible pain when you have a vaginal infection, it's usually a good idea to take a break from sex until you're healed.
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3 of 6
Your IUD got bonked.

"There are a number of different things that can irritate your cervix and cause bleeding," Dr. Young says. If you have an IUD in place, for example, the string can bother your cervix when you have sex, which causes bleeding, too, Dr. Young says.
4 of 6
Your period is en route.

Periods cause bleeding, have you heard? If you're about to get your period (or it just ended), it's entirely possible that your partner went up in there and got it for you, but again, you won't be able to tell if it's period blood until you see a doctor, Dr. Dardik says.
5 of 6
You need a little lube.

Friction from an un-lubricated condom can cause bleeding, Dr. Young says. Even if you're not using a condom, bleeding can mean you're just not lubricated enough, and you may want to consider a lubricant, she says.
6 of 6
It's a warning sign of something else.

Another huge reason why you should see a doctor if the bleeding becomes regular: It can be a sign of cervical cancer or an STI, Dr. Young says. Bleeding could be a sign that there are abnormal cells in the cervix, or that there are sores inside your vagina from STIs, Dr. Dardik says. "Without a thorough evaluation, one can't tell where the blood is coming from or what the cause is," she says. "See your doctor."
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