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A little bit of bleeding after sex is fairly common and can mean several things. It's natural to feel a bit panicked- but most of the time it's not serious. We're here to break down some common causes of postcoital spotting.
Your Vagina is Dry or Irritated
Friction and stretching during sex can cause little tears to occur which may lead to light bleeding. This is super common- especially if it's been a while since you've last had sex. Adding vaginal dryness into the mix only increases the chances of spotting.
What causes dryness?
As you may know, your vagina naturally lubricates itself. This works like a self cleaning machine, flushing out bad bacteria, dead cells, etc. Sexual arousal triggers the Bartholin's glands (these are by the opening of your vagina) to lubricate the vulva and vagina in preparation for sex (1). If you're not sexually aroused, then these glands won't produce mucus. Sexual arousal could be impacted if there isn't enough foreplay- or even if you're feeling particularly stressed or distracted.
Vaginal dryness is also common for women who have an estrogen deficiency or have gone through menopause. A drop in estrogen causes the lining of your vaginal lining to thin and become less stretchy. Your body also produces less vaginal fluids- leading to dryness (2).
Am I bleeding from vaginal irritation?
It's possible! Scented soaps and feminine washes contain harsh chemicals that can cause itching or burning. If your tampons or pads aren't organic cotton, all that chlorine bleach may be causing irritation and drying you out.
Just a heads up- a lot of name brand lubricants may actually be causing more harm than good! Make sure the lube you use is water based and free from glycerin, phthalates, or alcohol. Organic products contain healthier alternatives like coconut oil or aloe vera so you don't have to worry about developing an infection when you should be having fun.
You May Have an Infection or STI
Vaginal yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis can make things seriously uncomfortable down there. It's no surprise they may lead to light bleeding after sex considering how irritated the lining has become (A probiotic with specific bacterial strains for vaginal health may help prevent infections such as these).
Sexually Transmitted Infections like chlamydia, genital warts, and gonorrhea can cause bleeding after sex. If you think you may be at risk, get tested so you can begin treatment immediately.