Postcoital bleeding refers to genital bleeding after intercourse. The medical community typically uses this term to describe bleeding from the vagina, a fairly common occurrence caused by a wide range of factors.
The source of this bleeding tends to be more varied in women who are no longer menstruating. Fast facts on bleeding after sex: The source of the bleeding is different, depending on whether a woman is menstruating.
If vaginal bleeding after sex is related to menstruation, it is not considered postcoital bleeding. Anyone who engages in sexual intercourse can experience postcoital bleeding. What are the causes? Common causes of bleeding after sex include: Injury Bleeding after sex is fairly common and may have many different causes.
The friction and abrasion of intercourse can easily cause small tears and cuts in sensitive genital tissues. Childbirth can also cause vaginal tissues to stretch and tear, sometimes making them more vulnerable to injury. On the first occurrence of sexual intercourse, a small flap of vaginal skin called the hymen is often stretched and broken. The minor bleeding this causes can last 1 to 2 days.
Vaginal dryness Dryness is among the most common causes of postcoital bleeding. When the skin is dry it becomes extremely vulnerable to damage. Mucus-producing tissues, such as those in the vagina, are especially vulnerable. Common causes of vaginal dryness include: Genitourinary syndrome of menopause GSM: Once called vaginal atrophy , GSM refers to reduced lubrication, thickness, and elasticity of vaginal tissue.
Ovary damage or removal: Severe accidents that damage the ovaries, or conditions that lead to their removal, destroy the body's biggest source of estrogen. During pregnancy, estrogen levels are very high.
However, they drop almost immediately after childbirth, because estrogen can interfere with the production of breast milk. Medications that interfere with estrogen or dehydrate the body: Vaginal dryness can result from taking anti-estrogen medications, cold or flu medications, steroids, sedatives, several antidepressants , and calcium or beta channel blockers.
Chemicals and other irritants: Allergens and chemicals in hot tubs, pools, products such as laundry detergents, scented lubricants, and condoms can all cause dryness. Douching can irritate and dry vaginal tissues. Engaging in intercourse before arousal: During sexual arousal, vaginal tissues secrete natural lubricants, which help to prevent dryness and damaging friction during intercourse.
Infections Any type of infection can cause inflammation of vaginal tissues, making them more vulnerable to damage. These commonly include yeast infections, pelvic inflammatory disease , cervicitis, vaginitis , and sexually transmitted infections , such as chlamydia and gonorrhea. Cervical or endometrial polyps or fibroids Polyps and fibroids are tiny noncancerous growths. They commonly grow on the lining of the cervix or uterus, especially in menstruating people, and can cause pain and bleeding.
Cervical ectropion Glandular cells from the inside of the cervical canal can abnormally grow on the outside of the cervix. This condition usually clears up without treatment, but it can cause spotting and vaginal bleeding. Endometriosis Endometriosis causes endometrial tissues, the tissues that line the uterus, to grow outside of the uterus. This can cause inflammation, usually in the pelvic region and lower abdomen. Cervical dysplasia Cervical dysplasia occurs when abnormal, precancerous cells grow in the lining of the cervical canal, which is the opening separating the vagina and uterus.
These growths can irritate and eventually damage surrounding tissues, especially during intercourse. Anatomical abnormalities Some people have differently shaped reproductive organs, which may increase the likelihood of painful friction and tearing. Bleeding disorders Diseases that cause abnormal bleeding or clotting can increase the risk of postcoital bleeding.
Blood-thinning medications may also have this effect. Cancers Cancers that impact the reproductive system or urogenital tract can alter vaginal tissues and hormone levels, making them more vulnerable to damage.
Postcoital bleeding is considered a common symptom of both cervical and uterine cancers.