Why Am I Spotting After Sex?

Apr 11, 2017 at 2:00 p.m. ET
Image: Sandra Tyson/EyeEm/Getty Images

Question: I’ve been experiencing bleeding and spotting after sex multiple times (so I know it’s not my period). Why is this happening, and what can I do to fix it?

Answer from Dr. Sherry Ross: It may be reassuring to know spotting or bleeding after sex is common and can come from the vagina, cervix or urinary tract. It occurs most commonly in women 20 to 40 years old.

More: Vaginal ring that may prevent STDs aims to give women more peace of mind

Common causes of spotting after sex

  • Cervical cancer: A very rare cause of spotting. Yearly Pap smears will ensure this is not the cause.
  • Cervical ectropion: Also known as cervical eversion, this is a normal physiological change of the cervix causing inflammation on the surface of the cervix.
  • Cervical polyps: Benign cervical polyps commonly occur in women over 20 years old.
  • Menstrual bleeding: An early or unexpected period can happen due to environmental or hormonal causes.
  • Pregnancy: Definitely worth checking!
  • Sexually transmitted infectionsChlamydia and gonorrhea cause vaginal bleeding after sex.
  • Trauma to the vagina or cervix: A larger or thicker penis and a smaller vaginal opening can create lacerations in the vagina. Cervical bleeding can also occur with deeper penetration.
  • Vaginal atrophy: Another form of vaginal dryness occurring in menopausal women who are not taking hormone replacement therapy causing dry, thin and fragile vaginal tissue.
  • Vaginal dryness: Often caused by inadequate foreplay or vaginal lubrication.
  • Vaginitis: Yeast and gardnerella infections create inflammation and swelling in the vagina and cervix.

What can be done

Perform a pelvic exam, Pap smear, vaginal cultures (to rule out STIs and vaginal infections) and pregnancy test. This will help determine the majority of causes of bleeding or spotting after sex.

Once the cause is identified, treatment can be determined. Bleeding or spotting after sex is terrifying. It’s most likely nothing to worry about, but seeing your health care provider is recommended just to make sure everything checks out OK.

More: A startling number of men have never been tested for STIs

By Dr. Sherry Ross

Originally published on HelloFlo.