Is Bleeding After Sex a Sign of Pregnancy?

Does bleeding after sex mean you are pregnant?

There was a time, many a year ago, when my kneejerk reaction to that inquiry would be, well, no…do you need a tampon? But hey, life happens, and sometimes we find out that the ‘obvious’ answer to a strange sounding question is wrong, and that the question wasn’t even strange in the first place.

Anytime you are experiencing bloody discharge, you will surely feel at least a twinge of panic, and rightly so. Vaginal bleeding can be a sign of serious health problems or be a benign, one-off occurrence.

But could pregnancy also be a cause of bleeding after sex?

As a matter of fact, it can.

bleeding-after-sex

Why Would I Bleed If I’m Pregnant?

Any bleeding during any pregnancy is something that you should discuss with your OB-GYN, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that anything has gone wrong within your womb. There are several potential causes for that unnerving discharge.

Implantation Bleeding

While you might first notice vaginal bleeding after having sex, this type of bleeding is not directly linked to that exact sexual encounter.

With that said, I can guarantee that you can trace it back to a recent sexual encounter, possibly even more recent than you think; implantation bleeding can occur as early as six to twelve days after the fertilization of your egg.

Cause of Implantation Bleeding

  • Once an egg has been fertilized, it begins both its developmental and physical journey. It will make its way into your uterus and find a cozy spot to set up house for the next nine months. (source)
  • As the embryo is embedding itself into the chosen part of the uterine wall, you may experience some spotting. A more consistent, but still relatively light, flow is also possible. (source)

Implantation Bleeding Presentation

The appearance of the blood varies but is distinguishable from typical menstrual blood in several ways.

Implantation bleeding tends to be:

  • Brownish or pinkish, although shades of red are possible;
  • ‘Waterier’ with no clots;
  • Short, lasting for a few hours to a few days (Source)

Menstrual blood flow, on the other hand, will often:

  • Be a medium to dark red shade (blood moving faster through the reproductive system will be lighter in color);
  • Occasionally contain clots;
  • Be heavy at times;
  • Generally will last longer than implantation bleeding (Source)

Other Symptoms That may Accompany Implantation Bleeding

Here are some possible symptoms which may accompany implantation bleeding:

  • Cramps
  • Slight fever
  • Moodiness
  • Headaches
  • Cravings for or aversions to certain foods
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Swollen and/or sensitive breasts (Source)

Diagnosing Implantation Bleeding

Unfortunately, you might not be able to get a diagnosis as soon as you notice implantation bleeding, as you first need to be able to ascertain if you are actually pregnant.

While at-home pregnancy tests may be up to 99% accurate and are getting better at detecting a bun in the oven earlier, they still must be able to pick up a specific type of hormone.

Human Chorionic Gonadotropin, hCG, increases fairly rapidly, doubling in concentration every few days during the early part of pregnancy. At home pregnancy tests have varying levels of sensitivity to this hormone. When you add that to the fact that the implantation bleeding may be caused by a fairly recent fertilization, getting a reliable result in the comfort of your own bathroom might take a while.

However, you do have another option. Since hCG concentrations are detectable in the blood before the urine, your doctor can administer a blood test that may yield a quicker result. (Source)

Implantation Bleeding Treatment

You will not need any specific treatment if this is the cause of your bleeding; implantation bleeding will go away on its own within a relatively short period of time.

Friable Cervix

Yeah, those words put together do not conjure up the prettiest of images. But fear not, this one is pretty straightforward.

Causes of Friable Cervix

If you are pregnant, you are going through substantial changes over a pretty short timespan. One of your body’s go-to ways to make sure these changes are properly funded, so to speak, is to increase the blood flow to an area in need.

As the blood volume increases around your reproductive system, your cervix can become easily irritated and even inflamed. You might, therefore, notice bloody discharge coming from your vagina after sexual activity…or from a pelvic exam…or even just from living your day to day life.

Hormonal fluctuations are also thought to contribute to the development of a friable cervix and, as we said earlier, your body is a hotbed of change right now. (Source)

Friable Cervix Symptoms

While some women have no indicators of this condition, others may notice

  • Vaginal irritation
  • Discomfort and/or pain while having sex
  • Bleeding after sex
  • Vaginal discharge (Source)

Diagnosing Friable Cervix

If you think you are expecting, you can purchase an at home pregnancy test or visit your doctor for a pregnancy blood test. As mentioned above, hCG shows up sooner in the blood than in the urine, so a doctor’s test will likely provide you with earlier pregnancy detection.

To be on the safe side, I recommend making a visit to your doctor either way. Certain STDs and bacterial infections can cause a friable cervix; it is important to rule these in or out by undergoing a pelvic exam, during which your OB-GYN will take some vaginal swabs. (source)

Friable Cervix Treatment

It is possible that your doctor might be able to recommend a cream or lubricant that will make you more comfortable but, if your friable cervix is the result of a pregnancy, there won’t be too much that can be done. A friable cervix will often resolve itself after the cause of the inflammation (in this case, a pregnancy) has come to a natural conclusion.

Is Bloody Discharge While Pregnant Dangerous?

If you believe pregnancy to be the underlying cause of your bleeding after intercourse, you might be feeling a little frightened right now. But here is the thing:

Around 20% of women will experience some type of bleeding in the first twelve weeks of their pregnancy.

Over 90% of women who experienced vaginal bleeding during their first trimester will not suffer a miscarriage, provided that a heartbeat has been detected with an ultrasound.

So, even though it can be scary, bloody discharge does not mean that you have lost a pregnancy or are now destined to miscarry in the near future. It can simply be the beginning stages of your pregnancy are at hand. Of course, if you are concerned in any way, then immediately consult your doctor.

What Else Can Cause Bleeding During Sex?

While this blog specializes in all things pregnancy, parental, and child, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge a few common and uncommon things that can cause bloody discharge after sexual activity.

  • Lack of lubrication during sex
  • Friction during intercourse
  • Genital sores
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Cervical ectropion
  • Precancerous cervical spot
  • Pelvic organ prolapse
  • Cervical, vaginal, or uterine cancer (Source)

Obviously, these conditions range from the benign to the extreme, so I want to caution you against self-diagnosing. Instead, I encourage you to visit a doctor who can perform the necessary tests to narrow down the cause of any ongoing vaginal bleeding.

Wrapping up

Whether you are actively trying to conceive or wondering if your life is about to take an unexpected turn, finding any amount of blood coming from your vagina when you are not menstruating is a bit unnerving. Okay, a lot unnerving.

Just remember, it could be a sign of early pregnancy and, if it is, there is no reason to assume that the pregnancy is in danger. Plenty of women go through this every day and ultimately give birth to happy, healthy babies.

It is important to remember to calm down, take a breath, and not jump whatever scenario is your worst case scenario. Be sure to take care of your health by addressing any unexpected, on-going bleeding with your doctor.

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