Bleeding After Sex While Pregnant: Should I Worry?

Did you notice some bleeding or spotting after pregnancy sex? Find out the possible causes, and learn 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? The panic will probably set in immediately: What happened? Did I hurt the baby? Could I be miscarrying?

Bleeding After Sex While Pregnant

Before you make a beeline for the hospital, it's important to realize that bleeding after sex while pregnant could 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 fact, 15–25 percent of women experience vaginal bleeding in the first trimester, according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG)—and those brown or red specks of blood are usually 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). Intercourse might cause a vessel on the cervix to start bleeding, especially if the cervix comes in contact with your partner's penis. This won't endanger your pregnancy, but switching up sex positions may resolve the issue. Try spooning, rear-entry, or sitting on top of your partner.

Other non-worrisome causes of bleeding during pregnancy sex include vaginal dryness or cervical polyps. What's more, implantation bleeding sometimes happens 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 while pregnant 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. To be on the safe side, though, Dr. Minkin says to notify your practitioner about any bleeding during your pregnancy and let them decide where it's coming from. Don't have sex again until you get the all-clear, and wear pads instead of tampons to track the blood flow. Call 9-1-1 if you have extremely heavy bleeding, painful cramps, high fever, dizziness, or contractions.

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