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Bleeding After Sex While Pregnant: Should You Panic?

Your cervix changes when you carry a baby, which can mean coital bleeding occurs.

Bleeding after intercourse when you're pregnant can be common, and it's sometimes difficult to know whether it's something to call the doctor about or just a standard pregnancy experience.

There are different factors that determine whether a bleeding episode is actually an issue. These factors include the amount of blood and heaviness of the flow, whether you’ve been experiencing any other symptoms, when the bleeding occurs during your pregnancy, and what your doctor has to say about it. This post will go over some of these factors and help you figure out if you need to worry about the blood or not.

Please remember if you are ever concerned about any changes to your body during pregnancy, the best thing to do is always to contact your doctor.

If you're looking for more info on pregnancy, take a look at our piece on whether implantation bleeding can be heavy, or why you should hire a postpartum doula.

Is Sex Safe During Pregnancy?

Sex during pregnancy is perfectly safe for your baby if your pregnancy has no complications.

The short answer is yes. It's possible for sex while you are pregnant to be perfectly safe. There are even positions that allow you to feel more comfortable as your body changes.

If a penis or penetrative toy enters the vagina, it will not go past the vagina, and the baby will not be able to tell what's happening, so there is nothing to worry about if your pregnancy is healthy and normal. For the majority of pregnancies that are without complications, sex is safe and will not cause you to have a miscarriage or harm the baby in any way, and it will not induce early labor.  

You might notice that your sex drive changes while you are pregnant, and that is completely normal. Everyone has a different experience, and it's important to speak to your partner about sex during pregnancy about what's going on. Some people find that they want to have a lot more sex during pregnancy, and others barely want to have sex at all.

If you have sex in the third trimester, you might experience mild contractions that are called Braxton Hicks contractions. You will feel your womb muscles become hard, which can be uncomfortable but is completely normal at this stage. You will just need to wait for the contractions to pass, or try some relaxation techniques to ease the pain.

If you experience bleeding that is heavy while you are pregnant, your doctor or nurse might advise you not to have sex during pregnancy. If your placenta is low or you have placenta previa, then it is usually far safer to avoid intercourse completely, but you can rest assured that your doctor will give you clear instructions on what's best to keep your baby safe.

It is also not safe to have intercourse if you are experiencing any medical problems with your cervix, as sex, in this case, could encourage early labor or miscarriage. If you've experienced early labor in a previous pregnancy or you are having twins, then you might also be advised not to have sex, as it could be unsafe, but again, your doctor will let you know the best practice in your specific situation.

Is Bleeding After Sex While Pregnant Normal?

Bright red bleeding after sex while pregnant can be caused by many different issues.

Most of the time, sex during your first, second, or third trimester is completely safe and normal. You might notice some bleeding or spotting after you have sex, but this doesn't mean you need to worry, around 15-25 % of women do experience some spotting or bleeding.

While you are pregnant, your uterus changes a lot, and painless pinkish, light red, or brown light spotting after you have sex is common, especially in the first trimester. Your cervix will become more sensitive, so it can be easily bruised by deeper penetration, which can cause you to bleed.

Vaginal bleeding or spotting is most common to experience in early pregnancy, and it's usually light and brief. This can often be caused by implantation bleeding, which is when the fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the uterus, causing light spotting that usually lasts about two to five days. It's a natural part of the first trimester, and although some women bleed so lightly that they don't even notice it, as long as it is light and does not go on for longer than a few days, it is nothing to worry about.

In the third trimester of pregnancy, some women experience bleeding after sex due to cervical ectropion, when the soft internal cells of your cervix move to the outside, causing light bleeding, which often is not serious and does not need to be treated.

If you are noticing blood after sex and feel pain in your cervix, this could be caused by vaginal lacerations or cuts. Especially if you have rough intercourse or used toys, you could have created a tear in the vaginal wall, which will bleed.

If you are bleeding after sex, and also experiencing pain during sex and itching, then the bleeding could be caused by cervicitis, which is an inflammation of the cervix.

In the later stages of your pregnancy, you might also experience bleeding as a sign of the beginning of labor, which is called a bloody show and looks like mucus with blood in. It can occur a few days before labor begins.

When Should I Worry?

Some kinds of bleeding are totally normal, and will not cause any harm to your baby. However, it is best to get checked out by a medical professional if the bleeding is heavy, or if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, to be safe.

There are four main distinctions in the type of bleeding you can have during pregnancy, ranging from light spotting to heavy bright red bleeding. The type of bleeding should give you an idea of whether you need to seek medical help.

Spotting Or Traces Of Blood: This is similar to the usual blood that signals that your period is about to show up. This spotting will be different from a true period since there won't be any blood clots or less flow. However, there are always exceptions, so if spotting continues for 10 days or if you have continuous heavy bleeding with clotting, consult your gynecologist immediately.

Light Bleeding: This is similar to spotting, but a bit heavier. In this case, it can last for up to five days. If you feel this is excessive bleeding or if the flow becomes heavy, contact your doctor as soon as possible.

Heavy Bleeding: Should you have a heavy blood flow of bright red blood with or without the presence of blood clots, that does not subside in a few hours' time, consult your doctor immediately.

Light Bleeding With Clots: In this case, the red blood discharged from the vagina will have a brownish coloration and will have little lumps inside it. You should consult your doctor immediately if this type of bleeding occurs.

If your vaginal bleeding is still happening during pregnancy, make sure that you are not passing clots of blood (as blood clots can cause miscarriage). These can be passed by you vaginally or through sexual intercourse and they may not show up on a normal pregnancy blood test. You should feel for any blood clots as soon as possible after sex to determine their type and origin.

Vaginal bleeding in pregnancy doesn't always mean you're going to miscarry; however, if the amount of bleeding is excessive or if your practitioner is worried enough about it to request an emergency ultrasound, they would probably want you to visit them right away.

If you are having any sort of irregular bleeding after sex during pregnancy, then it is best to contact your doctor or midwife as this could be a sign of an infection. This way you'll know the cause of your problem and have access to some kind of treatment that will help alleviate it.

A small amount of bleeding during pregnancy is normal, and there's no need to worry if you have minimal bleeding each month. The main reason for concern would be a heavy flow that lasts more than five days. This can indicate an underlying condition, so even if you're not sure what to do, call your doctor or midwife as soon as possible.

Experiencing heavy or prolonged bleeding after sex while pregnant can sometimes be a sign of a more serious medical condition, so it is important to get support and guidance from your health professional so that you can stay as safe as possible.

Heavy bleeding may be caused by placenta previa, which is a life-threatening hemorrhage that is more common in the second and third trimesters. It isn't caused by sex, but bleeding can be caused by intercourse. If you are experiencing pain and heavy bleeding, you should go to the emergency room as soon as possible.

Bleeding after sex could also be caused by placental abruption, which is when the placenta detaches from the uterine wall and can be dangerous for both mother and baby. You will experience lower back pain alongside bleeding, and again, should go to the emergency room immediately if you are worried about it.

Although heavy bleeding after sex while pregnant does not always mean you are having a miscarriage, it could be a risk. If your bleeding is heavy it is important to contact your health emergency room immediately as your pregnancy could be at risk of ending prematurely.

If you found this article helpful, then why not take a look at our guide to stomach bugs during pregnancy, or experiencing a plus-size pregnancy?

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Kidadl Team

The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.

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