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Vaginal bleeding after sex

Medically reviewed on Jan 11, 2018

Definition

Vaginal bleeding after sex is common. Although it's often called "vaginal" bleeding, most benign bleeding in younger women comes from the cervix. However other parts of your genital and urinary systems can be involved.

Causes

Possible causes of vaginal bleeding after sex include:

  • Cervical cancer
  • Cervical ectropion, a condition in which the inner lining of the cervix protrudes through the cervical opening and grows on the vaginal part of the cervix
  • Cervical polyps — noncancerous (benign) growths on your cervix
  • Cervicitis (an inflammation of the cervix)
  • Endometrial cancer (uterine cancer)
  • Friction during sexual intercourse
  • Genital sores that result from sexually transmitted infections, such as genital herpes or syphilis
  • Inadequate lubrication or foreplay
  • Injury to the uterine lining (endometrium) during intercourse, especially in women taking oral contraceptives
  • Menstruation
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) — infection of the female reproductive organs
  • Trauma from sexual abuse
  • Vaginal atrophy (genitourinary syndrome of menopause — GSM) 
  • Vaginal cancer
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Vaginitis (bacterial vaginosis)

When to see a doctor

If you're premenopausal and have infrequent episodes of vaginal bleeding after sex — and you've had normal results on routine Pap tests and sexually transmitted infection screenings — you don't need to see your doctor. For vaginal bleeding that worries you, make an appointment with your doctor. If you're at risk of or feel you have been exposed to a sexually transmitted infection, see your doctor for an evaluation.

If you're postmenopausal, vaginal bleeding at any time must be evaluated. See your doctor to be sure that the cause of your vaginal bleeding isn't something serious.

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