To address your concerns right away, bleeding after sex doesn’t need to be a sign of anything abnormal. Micro-tears can happen during intercourse and cause minimal bleeding. That said, it could also signal an underlying medical condition or infection, especially if it persists the next morning or the day after.
The same goes for excessive bloody discharges which may or may not have a foul odor. This article examines the potential causes of bleeding after sex – how long does it typically last and what are the telltale signs indicating that it’s time to go and see a doctor.
What Causes Vaginal Bleeding?
In most cases, post-coital vaginal bleeding due to physical injury is minimal. A few specs of blood isn’t the same as bleeding, even if it lasts for an hour or two.
Needless to say, there could be more blood when a woman has intercourse for the first time due to the hymen rupture. Even then, the bleeding usually subsides in a few hours’ time, and doesn’t persist to the next day.
But what happens if a sexually active woman experiences post-coital bleeding and it lasts for more than a couple of hours? Without raising any alarms, this is often a sign of a medical condition. Here are some of the common culprits:
- Atrophic vaginitis – Better known as vaginal dryness, atrophic vaginitis is triggered by the lack of vaginal secretion. This usually affects older women of the post-menopausal age.
- Polyps – These are non-cancerous benign endometrial or cervical growths that could get damaged during intercourse.
- Infection – Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like chlamydia and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) can cause bleeding.
- Cervical erosion – With this, there’s a section of the cervix area that gets inflamed and damaged because of friction.
It should be pointed out that bleeding after sex isn’t usually a sign of cervical cancer. Post-coital bleeding may happen due to cervical cancer, but these cases are rare and far between.
The risk factors can be internal or external. The latter are the ones you might be responsible for and the former are those triggered by physiological processes or health conditions.
For example, women who often douche are at a greater risk of experiencing post-coital bleeding. If a woman doesn’t get properly aroused, chances are there might be some bleeding. And the same goes for women who have unprotected sex with different partners.
As indicated, women of menopausal age are also at greater risk. This applies to pre- and post-menopause periods as well. Women who breastfeed or have recently given birth might also experience some post-coital bleeding.
How Do You Know It’s Time to See a Doctor?
Women in perfect health and not in the menopausal age have little to worry about as long as there’s just minor bleeding or specking that disappears fast. In other words, there’s usually no need to visit a gynecologist unless the problem becomes frequent.
However, there’s an array of secondary symptoms that should raise an alarm. Abnormal vaginal discharge has already been mentioned and here are a few other symptoms you should be aware of:
- Pain during intercourse
- Burning or stinging while urinating
- Burning sensation or itching in the vagina
- Intense lower back and abdominal pain
- Vomiting and nausea
The truth is you can never be 100% about the reasons for vaginal bleeding. If it happens only once and isn’t excessive, then you’re out of the woods. Nevertheless, it’s still advisable to schedule an appointment with your gynecologist to have peace of mind.
More importantly, don’t overlook the secondary symptoms even if the bleeding is small. They may occur prior to the intercourse and persist long after the bleeding stops. Again, this is the telltale sign it’s time to see a doctor.
What to Expect at an Examination?
Doctors employ various diagnostic techniques to determine the cause of bleeding. In general, women undergo a cervical and vaginal examination. This can be done visually or via a colposcope – it’s a machine that magnifies the inner vaginal anatomy.
For further inspection, a doctor is likely to use ultrasound and order blood and urine tests to rule out or confirm infection. In addition, a test of vaginal discharge might be required to gauge the nature or severity of an infection.
A pap smear is also a common diagnostic procedure and the doctor might also conduct a biopsy to examine the affected tissue.
Post-Coital Bleeding Treatment
The treatment depends on the causes and the doctors usually prescribe medication to treat the infection or tissue inflammation. If vaginal dryness is the cause, a doctor might suggest using moisturizers. When regularly applied, the moisturizers line the vaginal walls and promote natural acidity in the cervix and uterus.
In addition, lubricants help reduce friction and it’s advisable to go for silicone or water-based variants to prevent further irritation or allergic reaction. Women of the menopausal age may receive estrogen therapy to restore the natural hormonal balance in their bodies.
This therapy may come in the form of topicals such as suppositories and creams and there’s also the estrogen ring. Some women might be prescribed progestin and estrogen pills, but it’s important to undergo a thorough check-up to determine the correct hormonal therapy.
Can Men Experience Bleeding After Sex?
Yes, men can experience bleeding after sex, but this isn’t as common as with women. Some blood in the semen usually indicates benign prostate enlargement. This usually affects men over fifty but it might appear at an earlier age.
There’s a possibility that the male urinary canal may get damaged during sex and cause some spotting. Blood in the urine might also be a sign of an STI or STD infection and it’s often accompanied by a stinging sensation.
Either way, it’s advisable to consult with a urologist and undergo a medical check-up. The discomforting part is the urinary canal smear, but it only lasts a few seconds and it shouldn’t hurt.
Better to Be Safe Than Sorry
What causes bleeding after sex – how long does it typically last? At this point, you should have a clear understanding of the causes and the bleeding shouldn’t last for more than a couple of hours. Otherwise, you need to talk to your doctor.
Finally, it’s best to prevent bleeding in the first place – wear a condom and practice safe sex. Using lubricants also helps – after all, the point is to have an enjoyable sex life, not suffer discomforting sensations.