What It Means If You Bleed After Being Fingered

Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Almost every time after my girlfriend and I first started having sex, I would bleed after she fingered me. I'd go to the bathroom when we were done, and there'd be a streak of blood on the toilet paper when I wiped.
It was never a lot of blood, and in my relative ignorance about my body, I could easily rationalize any fear away. Maybe she kickstarted my period, I thought. I imagined her finger reaching into my vaginal canal and bursting a period bubble that then trickled down onto the toilet paper. (Btw, that is not how periods work).
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In reality, she probably just scratched the inside of my vagina, causing a little bit of blood to come out. In fact, June Gupta, MSN, WHNP-BC, associate director of medical standards at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, says vaginal bleeding from little cuts is relatively common.
"Most of the time, these scratches or cuts are very small and heal on their own within a few days. Very rarely, a scratch or cut inside of the vagina may need medical attention to help it heal and reduce the risk of an infection," she says.
Although the risk of infection is already low, you can further reduce it by having your partner cover their hands with a condom or disposable glove. This will lower the possibility of them introducing bacteria into your vagina and the cuts, Gupta says. Even if you're not using gloves, it's a good idea to have your partner wash their hands before you start having sex.
Using a little bit of water-based lube will help to lower the chance of getting cuts in the first place, because it allows your partner to slip their fingers in and out with less friction. "Lubrication is really important," Gupta says. "The vagina produces lubrication during arousal, but this can take time and foreplay. Be sure to go slow, stop if it feels uncomfortable, and most importantly, communicate about what feels good and what doesn’t." (Whether or not you need it to avoid cuts, adding lube might make fingering more enjoyable.)
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While small cuts are the most common reason someone might bleed after being fingered, there are a few other possibilities. Your partner's fingers might have stretched your hymen, Gupta says. "A hymen is a thin tissue that stretches over the opening of some people’s vaginas," she says. "Stretching it can cause it to bleed. This is normal and should go away within a few days."
There's also the chance that you're spotting between periods, which might not be related to the fingering at all, just bad timing. Vaginal infections or STIs can also cause spotting, Gupta says. Chlamydia, for example, can cause spotting between periods but will often come with other symptoms, such as vaginal discharge and pain while you pee, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For the most part, there's no reason to worry if you notice a little bit of blood, but Gupta does suggest checking in with a doctor if you have any pain, discomfort, itching, or if the bleeding doesn't go away within a few days.
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