Bleeding After Sex: What Does It Mean?

Michelle Meyer •Feb 17, 2023

Sex has many moving parts: there’s lighting, lingerie, foreplay, or the mathematical and biological backflips you have to compute in order to get your ovulation schedule just right

According to studies, anywhere from .07 to 9 percent of menstruating women also have to juggle the reality of bleeding after sex (or postcoital bleeding, as it is clinically known).

Regular postcoital bleeding may prompt a doctor’s visit, but if this is your first time experiencing bleeding after sex, here’s what you need to know. 

man and woman cuddling in bed

Why am I bleeding after sex? 

Postcoital bleeding is not the result of a single cause or action. Vaginal dryness, vaginal infections, endometriosis, or even hormonal changes can be the culprits behind blood after sex, according to Mayo Clinic

Added lubrication or foreplay may be able to support those who are bleeding after sex due to vaginal dryness. Still, the same course of action wouldn’t remedy a vaginal infection, like bacterial vaginosis

Research also shows that cervical or endometrial polyps or cervical erosion can also lead to bleeding after sex.  

man and woman kissing outdoors

How can I treat bleeding after sex? 

Your course of treatment for postcoital bleeding will vary depending on your diagnosis or cause. For instance, according to Planned Parenthood, STIs (like chlamydia or gonorrhea) can be treated with antibiotics and lifestyle changes

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends adding a water or silicone-based lubricant to your sexual routine if you’re experiencing general vaginal dryness due to lack of arousal, stress, or hormonal changes. 

If your postcoital bleeding is paired with other symptoms, your next step could be to seek medical support. 

doctor taking notes

When should I see a doctor for postcoital bleeding? 

It's important to see a healthcare professional if you experience bleeding after sex, especially if the cause isn’t obvious and it’s happening regularly. Your doctor will be able to determine the cause of the bleeding and recommend the appropriate treatment.

Bleeding after sex can be frightening, especially when you’re trying to conceive and want everything to go right. Checking in with your doctor can help rule out any significant complications or infections and give you additional peace of mind the next time you foray into the bedroom. 

​​Michelle Meyer is a freelance medical writer. She is busy completing an MSc in Physiology and Pharmacology and has been in the health and wellness industry for nearly two decades. Her interests include women’s health, mood disorders, and oncology.