Is Bleeding After Sex a Sign of Pregnancy?

Dr. Pierrette Mimi Poinsett, MD
Reviewed by Dr. Pierrette Mimi Poinsett, MDWritten by Neve Spicer Updated on August 24th, 2021
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Does bleeding after sex mean I am pregnant? There was a time, many years 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, perhaps, the question wasn’t so strange in the first place.

Any time you experience bloody discharge, you’ll surely feel a twinge of panic, and rightly so. Vaginal bleeding can be a sign of serious health problems or just a benign, one-off occurrence.

But, could pregnancy also be a cause of bleeding after sex? As a matter of fact, it can.

Why would I bleed if I’m pregnant?

Any bleeding during pregnancy is something you should discuss with your OB-GYN, but it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s anything 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 needn’t be directly linked to that particular sexual encounter.

With that said, I can guarantee that you could 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 then make its way into your uterus and find a cozy spot to set up house for the next nine months.1Implantation Bleeding

As the embryo is embedding itself into its chosen part of the uterine wall, you may experience some spotting. A more consistent, but still relatively light, flow is also possible.2Implantation Bleeding: What It Is and What to Look For

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;
  • Watery with no clots;
  • Short, lasting for a few hours to a few days.3Implantation Bleeding: What It Is and What to Look For

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;
  • Will generally last longer than implantation bleeding.4What the Color of Your Period Blood Says About Your Health

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 breasts5What causes implantation bleeding?

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 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 this to the fact that implantation bleeding may be caused by fairly recent fertilization, getting a reliable result in the comfort of your own bathroom may 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.6When to take a pregnancy test

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

Yes, put together, these words 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 will go through substantial changes over a pretty short time span. One of your body’s go-to ways of making 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, or even inflamed. You might, therefore, notice a bloody discharge coming from your vagina after sexual activity, 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 noted earlier, your body is a hotbed of change right now.7What can cause this?

Friable cervix symptoms

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

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 visiting 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.9

Friable cervix treatment

It’s possible that your doctor may recommend a cream or lubricant that will make you feel more comfortable but, if your friable cervix is the result of pregnancy, there won’t be 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’s 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 the baby’s heartbeat has been detected with an ultrasound.

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

What else can cause bleeding during sex?

While this blog specializes in all things pregnancy, parental, and child-related, let me 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 cancer10Bleeding After Sex
  • Uterine fibroids

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

Wrapping up

Whether you’re 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 not menstruating can be unnerving, or, indeed, extremely unnerving.

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

It’s important to calm down, take a deep breath, and not unnecessarily pre-empt your worst-case scenario. Always take care of your health by addressing unexpected or ongoing bleeding with your doctor.

Dr. Pierrette Mimi Poinsett, MD
Reviewed by Dr. Pierrette Mimi Poinsett, MDWritten by Neve Spicer Updated on August 24th, 2021

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