Post-sex bleeding isn’t always related to your menstrual cycle.
If you’ve ever had sex that ended in blood-stained sheets, then started aggressively googling “how to get rid of period stains ASAP,” you’re not alone. Bleeding during or after sex is super common. And while that knowledge might be somewhat comforting, you’re also likely a bit confused. Whether it’s your Auntie Flo coming a few days early to gift you with an added load of laundry or something totally different, the combination of blood and sexy time can leave you with a few questions.
Even if you know your body really well, it can be tricky to pinpoint the cause of unexpected bleeding. It’s easy to chalk post-coital bleeding up to your period, even if you’re not totally sure what’s going on. And while there’s certainly a chance for that to happen, experts say that the likelihood of sex kick-starting your period is small.
“It is unlikely that sex can start a period early,” says Dr. Sherry Ross, OB/GYN, a women’s sexual health expert and author of she-ology and the she-quel. “It can be a timing coincidence that you bleed right after having sex on the very beginning of day one of your period.”
In some cases, it may even be period blood you’re seeing — but it’s not exactly your period starting.
“Sex can make it seem like your period is coming earlier,” Dr. Kendra Segura, M.D., OB/GYN, tells Elite Daily. “Particularly if you have old blood in the uterus that hasn’t completely shed.” That said, most experts agree that any blood you discover post-sex is (for the most part) not related to shark week.
“In truth, the only real change that sex can have on your actual period is pregnancy,” says Dr. Ross. In other words, it’s unlikely that sex will affect your period unless you end up getting pregnant. More often than not, bleeding post-sex is related to a variety of other, non-menstrual related causes. As for what those are? Let’s discuss.
What Are Some Reasons For Bleeding After Sex?
If you’re bleeding after sex, one of the most important things to consider is frequency. Is this something that happens every time?
“Anytime someone tells me they’re experiencing bleeding after sex, we talk about whether it’s a one-time thing or a regular thing,” says Dr. Danielle Jones, a board-certified OB/GYN and personality behind the Instagram account @mamadoctorjones. “If it’s a recurrent issue, then we’d want to have an exam, make sure your pap smears are all up to date, and check to see if there are any other issues.” Once a doctor understands the frequency of the bleeding, they can begin to determine the cause.
“When we think of post-coital bleeding, we split it up into two categories,” explains Dr. Jones.”There’s structural, which includes any issues having to do with the uterus, cervix, vulva, or vagina. And then there’s systemic, which includes bleeding caused by things like blood thinners, antibiotics, thyroid issues, and other more external factors.”
There are some medical-related reasons for frequent post-coital bleeding, Dr. Jones explains. In some cases, it’s inflammation of the cervix, uterine polyps, micro-tears in the vaginal wall, low estrogen related to menopause, cervical dysplasia, or, in extreme cases, cervical cancer.
Sex toys, rough sex, or any other kind of vaginal issue like bacterial vaginosis also make the cervix more sensitive and vulnerable to possible tearing. There are also some types of birth control that may lead to spotting, breakthrough bleeding, and vaginal dryness (which can also lead to tearing and bleeding). Breakthrough bleeding is especially common with low and high-dose estrogen birth control pills and IUDs, and even more so if you’re inconsistent with taking the pill or have just gotten the IUD. The morning-after pill can also cause some breakthrough bleeding.
“Trauma or lacerations to the entrance of the vagina [are] a common cause of bleeding after sex — especially if it’s been a while,” says Dr. Ross. “Even if you are adequately lubricated, tears of the vaginal opening can occur.”
Another common cause of vaginal bleeding post-sexy time can be STIs, so it’s super important to get regularly tested, especially if you have multiple sexual partners.
And since it’s impossible to know exactly what the cause might be without seeing a medical professional, experts encourage anyone experiencing frequent post-sex bleeding to visit a doctor ASAP.
Does Bleeding After Sex Affect The Likelihood Of Getting Pregnant?
Generally speaking, not really. If you did start your period post- or during sex, it’s important to remember that you can indeed still get pregnant, so keep using your birth control methods if that’s not something you want right now. The same thing applies if the bleeding post-sex is unrelated to your menstrual cycle.
“Unless you’re bleeding when pregnant, we typically wouldn’t relate pregnancy and post-coital bleeding,” says Dr. Jones. If you’re at all worried about whether or not your post-coital bleeding is related to pregnancy, you’ll typically get more insight by the time your period rolls around. If it’s late, take a test! If your period shows up on time, there was likely another reason behind the bleeding.
Of course, some vaginal, cervix, and uterine issues are indicative of fertility issues and may also cause bleeding — but again, it’s hard to diagnose these without a medical professional.
At the end of the day, if anything having to do with your downstairs area feels off, do not hesitate to go visit a doctor — particularly when it comes to vaginal bleeding. As for those stained bedsheets? Hydrogen peroxide typically does the trick.
Dr. Sherry Ross, OB/GYN, women’s sexual health expert and author of she-ology and the she-quel
Dr. Kendra Segura, M.D., OB/GYN
Dr. Danielle Jones, a board-certified OB/GYN and personality behind the Instagram account @mamadoctorjones