Bleeding During Sex: What does it Mean?
What does it mean when you bleed during sex? This is very common for women that are regularly menstruating and more common in women past menopause. The thought of bleeding during intercourse is stressful at first but in most cases the cause behind bleeding during sex is relatively harmless.
Also, the reasons for bleeding during sex and after sex (postcoital bleeding) tend to overlap. If the bleeding is a recurring issue, it’s always best to seek medical advice about your sexual health from your Ob / GYN.
Menopause and Hormones
It is more common for women who have reached menopause to bleed often during or after having sex. This is because as you age, your body will tend to produce less of the estrogen hormones. Lower estrogen levels, lead to thinning walls, and lower production of cervical mucus. Thus, it becomes easier for vaginal tearing, especially during rough sex. This condition is known as Atrophic Vaginitis, which can also cause itching and burning sensations in the vagina.
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Cancer in Reproductive Organs
The type of tumor depends on the type of cancer a person contracts. Tumors are built up of solid, improperly developed blood vessels, when the tumors grow, these fragile blood developed blood vessels over dilate (stretch) and are more susceptible to bursting. Sex can aggravate blood vessel bursting.
Excluding sexual intercourse, vaginal bleeding is a more relatively common symptom of cervical cancer. Bleeding symptoms of cervical cancer include:
- Bleeding between periods or post-menopause
- Heavy and long periods
- Vaginal Discharge mixed with blood
If going to a gynecologist to be evaluated for cervical cancer, expect a Pap smear, pelvic exam, and a visual checkup(colonoscopy). An Ob / GYN that is suspicious of cancer may examine a sample of your body tissue through.
Sexual and Physical Trauma
Often times bleeding during sex is related to infections and abnormal functions in your reproductive organs. Bleeding can simply be the result of physical trauma. You may be having overly rough sex, which can tear vaginal tissue. Tearing during sex is more likely to occur because of vaginal dryness, which can happen due to menopause, breastfeeding, and unsafe vaginal cleaning (douching).
On a more serious matter, vaginal bleeding can be the product of sexual abuse. Victims of forced entry can risk vaginal tears that need to be medically treated.
Cervical and Uterine Polyps
Mild growths of tissue in the cervix, known as cervical polyps, or on the uterus (uterine polyps) is one of the common causes of bleeding during sex. Women over the age of 40 who’ve birthed multiple babies are more likely to have cervical polyps. Polyps are tube-shaped structures that are filled with capillaries (blood vessels) that bleed easily when touched.
Uterine polyps are smaller than cervical polyps. Uterine polyps are more likely to bleed during sex and between periods. Women in their mid-30s to mid-50s are more likely to get uterine polyps.
Cervical Ectropion occurs when the cells responsible for your cervix lining, begin to push through the opening of your cervix. This can lead to the build-up of gas and fluids in your cervical tissue, which causes your blood vessel to expand and get inflamed. Bleeding from cervical ectropion can be triggered from any type of insertion into the vagina: intercourse, menstruation cups, tampons, inserted speculum for a pelvic exam.
If you have reason to believe you have cervical ectropion, and you’ve been having unprotected sex, consider taking a pregnancy test. Cervical ectropion occurs in pregnant women, teenagers-young adults, women using birth control pills. This health condition usually goes away on its own, treatment is usually not needed unless there are severe bleeding and discharge.
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Abnormal discharge
- Painful urination
The amount of vaginal bleeding you experience after sex depends on how severe the infection is.
Endometriosis and Uterine Lining
Endometriosis happens when your endometrium (uterine lining) protrudes outside of your uterus. The issue occurs when the endometrial tissue binds itself to other reproductive organs. Endometriosis is usually really painful and may cause fertility issues.
✔️ Medically Reviewed by Dr Roohi Jeelani, MD, FACOG and Lauren Grimm, MA
Dr Roohi Jeelani is Director of Research and Education at Vios Fertility Institute in Chicago, Illinois. Dr Jeelani earned her medical degree from Ross University School of Medicine in Portsmouth, Dominica. She then completed a residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology and a fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at Wayne State University, Detroit Medical Center, where she was awarded a Women’s Reproductive Health NIH K12 Research Grant. She is board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr Jeelani has authored numerous articles and abstracts in peer-reviewed journals, and presented her research at national and international scientific meetings. A Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dr Jeelani is a member of the American Medical Association, the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, and the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists.
Lauren Grimm is Research Coordinator at Vios Fertility Institute in Chicago, Illinois. Lauren earned her bachelor’s degree from Loyola University Chicago, where she also completed her masters in Medical Sciences. Lauren has worked alongside Dr. Jeelani for the last 3 years, authoring a number of abstracts and articles in peer-reviewed journals, and presented her research at national and international scientific conferences. Lauren will be continuing her education this fall at Rush University Medical College in Chicago, IL as an MD candidate.
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