Most couples worry that sex during pregnancy might harm their baby. It can be especially worrying if you experience bleeding after sex.
Unless you’ve been advised by your healthcare provider to avoid intercourse, sex is a wonderful way of maintaining intimacy.
There are a few common reasons why you might notice vaginal bleeding after sex. Most often, they are no cause for concern.
Why am I bleeding after sex while pregnant?
During pregnancy, the most common reasons for bleeding after sex hormonal changes.
Higher levels of progesterone mean your blood vessels are enlarged. They also become more fragile and break more easily.
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.
However, there are other reasons, such as erosions of the vaginal wall or cervical polyps that might cause post-sex bleeding during pregnancy.
Vaginal bleeding after sex when pregnant
In most cases, vaginal bleeding after sex when pregnant is normal. The bleeding might be profuse bleeding, light spotting, pink, very light red or even brown bleeding.
Depending on when you’re experiencing bleeding after sex when pregnant, there will be no pain associated with the bleeding.
Bleeding after sex while pregnant – first trimester
About 10–14 days after conception you might notice light spotting or bleeding, as the fertilized egg attaches to the lining of your uterus. This is called implantation bleeding and if it coincides with recent sex it can cause you to worry you might have disturbed something.
Implantation bleeding can last from a few hours to a few days after the fertilized egg implants itself in the uterine wall. Implantation bleeding might be accompanied by other signs of early pregnancy, such as bloating, mild cramping and breast tenderness.
Nourish your body with healthy foods and give in 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.
During the first trimester of pregnancy, if you experience bright red bleeding after having sex, contact your healthcare provider, who will be able to assess the cause of the bleeding.
Bleeding after sex while pregnant – second trimester
Many women experience relief when they enter their second trimester of pregnancy. A surge in your libido might accompany this feeling.
Your hormone levels are peaking, particularly estrogen and progesterone. The blood supply to your pelvic region has increased, there’s less pelvic pressure as the uterus merges above the pelvic brim (when your bump starts to show) and pregnancy sex starts to be much more appealing.
Estrogen increases vaginal lubrication, making sex more pleasurable. Progesterone increases blood flow to the pelvic region, causing heightened sexual desire. However, although these hormones are driving your pleasure, they’re also partly responsible for bleeding that might occur after sex, especially in the second or third trimester of pregnancy.
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 can 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 the baby is responding to the orgasmic contractions of your uterus and 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 the amniotic fluid has a cushioning effect. A thick mucus plug covers your cervix and provides an additional layer of protection.
A burst ectopic pregnancy can cause life-threatening bleeding and it’s an emergency situation. Be sure to call emergency services any time you experience bleeding accompanied by pain. Research shows that, in an ectopic pregnancy, the bleeding might be concealed, so don’t make a decision based on the amount of bleeding that comes out of the vagina.
Any amount of bleeding accompanied by pain should always be referred to the emergency services.
Read more in Ectopic Pregnancy – Symptoms, Signs And Treatment.
Bleeding after sex while pregnant – third trimester
You might have to make a few alterations in your position 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 labor contractions.
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 might notice you continue to have mild contractions for a few hours after orgasm.
Sexual activity might cause the mucus plug to come away; which you will notice it 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 are:
- Cramping, back pain that is regular
- Waters breaking
- Contractions that get stronger and closer together.
Read more in BellyBelly’s article Signs of Labour – Could I Be In Early Labour?
Light bleeding after sex while pregnant
Any bleeding during pregnancy is alarming; most often, though 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 the bleeding is 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 afterward 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, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea, 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 be treated accordingly.
Vaginal dryness can cause light bleeding, due to increased friction during sex. BellyBelly recommends Lariese Evolve Personal Organic Lubricant. It’s designed to match the slightly acidic pH level of the vagina and leaves no icky sticky residue.
It is the best-selling organic personal lubricant in Australia and the company ships internationally.
When should I be concerned?
Peace of mind is essential during pregnancy, to allow you to relax into all the changes happening in your body.
If you’ve been diagnosed with a low-lying placenta or placenta previa, your care provider might advise you to avoid sex or to be more careful.
If you experience heavy bleeding that’s bright red in color and sometimes accompanied by cramping and back pain, it could be placental abruption. This is when your placenta has partially detached from the lining of your uterus. Placental abruption requires immediate medical attention.
Read more in our articles Low Lying Placenta | What Does It Mean? and Placenta Previa | Symptoms, Bleeding And Critical Symptoms.
Should I notify my care provider if I have bleeding after sex?
It’s always advisable to speak to your doctor or midwife whenever you have a pregnancy concern.
When the concern is pregnancy bleeding, make note of the amount and frequency of any vaginal bleeding after sex so you can share this information with your healthcare providers. They’ll ask for details, such as when the bleeding started, whether it is heavy or prolonged bleeding and whether you have any other symptoms, such as abdominal pain.
Don’t have sex again until the source of bleeding has been confirmed. Always use pads instead of tampons, to monitor the flow.
Call an ambulance or go to your nearest emergency department if you experience the following symptoms :
- High fever
- Heavy vaginal bleeding.
You could be experiencing an ectopic pregnancy or you might have an infection; both require medical attention.
Bleeding and cramping after sex while pregnant
When vaginal bleeding occurs and is accompanied by cramping or abdominal pain, contact your healthcare provider as soon as you notice it.
These symptoms could suggest a serious complication, such as placental abruption or a bleeding placenta previa (when the placenta covers part or the whole of the cervix). When placental abruption occurs the placenta detaches from the uterine wall.
Seek medical advice as soon as you experience bleeding accompanied by cramping or pain as it can be a potentially life-threatening condition. Placental abruption will not just affect the baby; it can also cause life-threatening hemorrhaging in the mother.
Bleeding and cramping can also be a sign of preterm labor.
Pregnancy sex – even if it’s rough sex – won’t cause bleeding and cramping. No sexual activity will make a pregnant woman go into preterm labor.
Read more in our articles: Placenta Previa | Critical Points You Need To Know And Do and
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 deep penetration can put more pressure on your cervix, so it’s best to avoid those positions.
Instead, you could try:
- Straddling your partner
- Oral sex
- Clitoral stimulation, instead of vaginal penetration.
Intimacy is important in a healthy relationship but it can look different for different people, depending on need. Communicate with your partner about navigating sex during pregnancy so you both enjoy it. Sexual intercourse might prove difficult as the pregnancy advances but sex during pregnancy doesn’t mean only sexual intercourse
Check out our article Pregnancy Sex Positions – 7 Ideas For Pregnant Couples.