Is It Normal to Bleed After Sex While Pregnant?

Noticing some bleeding or spotting after sex during your pregnancy? Learn about the possible causes and when to see a doctor.

Pregnancy sex has a host of benefits, ranging from lowered blood pressure to increased intimacy in your relationship. But what if a romantic night ends with blood-tinged toilet paper? If you notice some blood after having sex during pregnancy, here's what you should know.

Bleeding After Sex While Pregnant

Before you make a beeline for the hospital, it's important to know that bleeding after sex while pregnant can be normal, says Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., a clinical professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences at the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut. In fact, 15% to 25% of pregnant people experience vaginal bleeding in the first trimester, according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG)—and those brown, pink, or red spots of blood can be harmless.

What Causes Bleeding After Sex During Pregnancy?

The most common cause of bleeding is related to your pregnancy hormones. Levels of progesterone rise throughout gestation; in turn, blood vessels become larger and more friable (easily traumatized).

Vaginal penetration—whether with a penis, finger, or toy—might cause a vessel on the cervix to bleed, especially if the object comes into contact with your cervix. This won't endanger your pregnancy, but switching up sex positions may resolve the issue. For penis-in-vagina sex, try spooning, rear-entry, or you sitting on top of your partner.

Other non-worrisome causes of vaginal bleeding during pregnancy sex include vaginal dryness or cervical polyps. If it's super early in your pregnancy (like before your period is even due), you may also experience implantation bleeding. Implantation bleeding can sometimes happen when the fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the uterus—usually 10 to 14 days after conception. Implantation bleeding appears inconsistently for hours or days, and it's usually tinged pink or brown.

When Should I Worry About Bleeding After Pregnancy Sex?

In some cases, light or heavy bleeding after sex during pregnancy could signal trouble, especially if it happens during the second or third trimester. Placenta previa (when the placenta fully or partially covers the cervix) and placental abruption (when the placenta separates from the uterus) sometimes lead to bleeding. Other concerning causes include miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, or early labor.

It's important to note that pregnancy sex doesn't cause miscarriage, placenta previa, or other dangerous conditions. However, if you do have one of those conditions, your doctor may want you to avoid sex, so it is important to talk to your doctor if you're experiencing bleeding during pregnancy.

Dr. Minkin says to notify your prenatal care provider about any bleeding during your pregnancy so they can evaluate it. Don't have sex again until you get the all-clear, and wear pads instead of tampons to track the blood flow. Seek immediate medical attention if you have extremely heavy bleeding, painful cramps, any fluid discharge, high fever, dizziness, or contractions.

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