Bleeding after sex while pregnant
Most couples worry that sex during pregnancy might harm their baby. It can be especially worrying if you notice any bleeding after sex.
Unless you’ve been advised by your healthcare provider to avoid intercourse, it’s a wonderful way of maintaining intimacy.
There are a few common reasons you might notice vaginal bleeding after sex. Most often they are no cause for concern.
Why am I bleeding after sex when pregnant?
During pregnancy, the most common reasons for bleeding after sex is due to hormones.
Higher levels of progesterone mean your blood vessels are enlarged. They also become more fragile and break easier.
Your cervix is more sensitive to this effect. Sex involving penetration can cause the blood vessels to be injured and bleed, especially if your partner’s penis touches your cervix.
Vaginal bleeding after sex when pregnant
In most cases, vaginal bleeding after sex when pregnant is normal. The bleeding should be light spotting, pink or or very light red, or even brown.
Depending on when you’re experiencing bleeding after sex when pregnant, there will be no pain associated wtih the bleeding.
Bleeding after sex in the first trimester
Around 10 – 14 days after conception you may notice light spotting or bleeding caused by the fertilized ovum attaching to the lining of your uterus. This is called implantation bleeding and if it coincides with recent sex it can cause you worry that you’ve disturbed something.
It may last from a few hours to a few days and may be accompanied by other signs of early pregnancy such as bloating, mild cramping and breast tenderness.
Nourish your body with healthy foods and give over to the waves of tiredness you’re feeling as your body nurtures your new pregnancy. Hold back on having sex until it settles and you feel confident to resume penetrative sex.
Bleeding after sex in the second trimester
There is usually a collective sigh of relief when you enter your second trimester and this may be accompanied by a surge in your libido. Your hormone levels are peaking, particularly oestrogen and progesterone.
Oestrogen increases vaginal lubrication, making sex more pleasurable. Progesterone increases blood flow to the pelvic region causing heightened sexual desire. However, while these hormones are driving your pleasure, they’re also partly responsible for bleeding that may occur after sex.
Your cervix often called the mouth of your womb, is located at the top of your vagina. Progesterone stimulates the growth of existing blood vessels. Frequent or vigorous sex may disturb or rupture some of these vessels causing spotting or streaks of blood immediately after sex or the next morning.
Bleeding doesn’t mean you’ve hurt or harmed your baby. You might even notice your baby is particularly active after satisfying sex. This is because they’re responding to the orgasmic contractions of your uterus as well as the surge of oxytocin – also known as the love hormone.
Nature has put many safety nets in place to ensure your baby is well protected. The muscles of your uterus surround your baby and your amniotic fluid has a cushioning effect. A thick mucus plug covers your cervix providing an additional layer of protection.
Bleeding after sex in the third trimester
You might have to make a few alterations in positions to have satisfying sex with a large belly. It’s safe to continue having sex for as long as it feels comfortable. Interestingly, semen contains prostaglandin, which softens the cervix in preparation for labor.
Sex in the third trimester is a wonderfully enjoyable way to get your body ready for birth. Frequent orgasms promote high levels of oxytocin and prepare the uterus for the contractions of labor.
Unless you’ve been advised not to have sex due to placenta previa or other risk factors, then make the most of this special time before your baby arrives.
Bleeding after sex in late pregnancy can easily be confused with early labor. You may notice you continue to have mild contractions for a few hours after orgasm. Sexual activity may cause the mucus plug to come away, which you will notice as a thick sticky discharge with streaks of blood running through it. The mucus plug regenerates so unless you have other signs of labor it’s unlikely you’ll go into labor soon. Early signs of labor include:
- Cramping, back pain that is regular
- Waters breaking
- Contractions that get stronger and closer together
Read more in Signs of Labour – & Signs You might Be In Labour.
Light bleeding after sex during pregnancy
While any bleeding during pregnancy is alarming, most often it’s not a cause for concern. If you’ve recently had sex and experience light bleeding in the hours afterward, with no pain, then it’s likely due to your cervix being irritated.
Heavy bleeding after sex during pregnancy
Heavy bleeding after sex during pregnancy is more cause for concern, especially if you experience pain and cramps.
If you have sex and bleeding begins after and you’re soaking more than a pad per hour, seek immediate medical attention.
Other causes of bleeding after sex while pregnant
Yeast infections and sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia and gonorrhoea can also cause light bleeding after sex while pregnant.
Usually, you’ll notice other symptoms like itching and burning. Visit your care provider for a urine test or vaginal swab to test for infection and treat accordingly.
Vaginal dryness can cause light bleeding due to the increased friction during sex. BellyBelly recommends Lariese Evolve Personal Organic Lubricant, which is the best selling organic personal lubricant in Australia (they ship internationally).
It’s designed to match the slightly acidic pH level of the vagina and leaves no icky sticky residue.
When should you be concerned?
Peace of mind is essential during pregnancy so you can relax into all the changes happening in your body.
If you experience heavy bleeding that’s bright red in color and sometimes accompanied by cramping and back pain, it could be placenta abruption. This is when your placenta has partially detached from the lining of your uterus. Placenta abruption requires immediate medical attention.
Should I notify my care provider if I have bleeding after sex?
It’s always advisable to speak to your doctor or midwife when you have a pregnancy concern.
Take note of the amount and frequency of any vaginal bleeding after sex while pregnant so you can share this information with your care provider. They’ll ask for details like when it started and if you have any other symptoms such as pain.
Don’t have sex again until the source of bleeding is confirmed and always use pads instead of tampons to monitor the flow.
If you experience the following, call an ambulance or go to your nearest emergency department:
- High fever
- Very heavy bleeding
You may be experiencing an ectopic pregnancy or have an infection and require medical attention.
Can I avoid bleeding after sex during pregnancy?
You might have a particularly sensitive cervix and there’s little you can do about that. Certain positions during sex mean your partner can put more pressure on your cervix so it’s best to avoid those. You can try:
- Straddling your partner
- Oral sex
- Clitoral stimulation instead of penetration.
Intimacy is important in a healthy relationship but this can look differently depending on need. Communicate with your partner about navigating sex so you both enjoy it.
If you’d like more information about bleeding during pregnancy, check out our article here.