If you've ever noticed spotting—or outright bleeding—after sex, you know it can be terrifying. Before you freak out, here's the good news: There are lots of potential reasons that bleeding after sex can happen, and many of them have easy fixes. Still, it's important to get to the bottom of what's causing this common symptom, since it can indicate a variety of health issues.
Here, eight reasons you could be spotting after getting it on.
Your hormones are fluctuating
Whether you’re pregnant or going through menopause, life stages that come along with hormonal changes can also cause unusual post-coital bleeding. “In pregnancy, bleeding can often be seen after intercourse,” says Dr. Phillis Mims-Gillum, a senior staff physician and AASECT certified sex counselor at Henry Ford Health System. Pregnancy hormones cause the cervix to become more sensitive than usual, so sex could irritate it and thus, cause a small amount of bleeding. (A larger amount of bleeding during pregnancy should, of course, be evaluated by your ob-gyn in case it’s something more serious.)
Other hormonal causes of dryness include birth control side effects and declines in estrogen after pregnancy or leading up to menopause, says Strutz. Many forms of birth control can cause breakthrough bleeding, which is sometimes mistaken for post-sex bleeding, and a decline in estrogen can lead to vaginal dryness. “Sometimes lube helps in these situations, or you may want to ask your health care provider about vaginal estrogen treatments,” says Strutz.