Spotting after sex can be serious

November 24, 2015

Dear Readers,

Mich is a sexually active 22-year-old who is worried because she is experiencing some spotting and bleeding after sex. She asks Check Up if this could be cancer. She has not yet been to see her doctor about it and feels afraid to do so.

In young women of child-bearing age, the commonest source of bleeding is the cervix (neck of the womb). Even if the cervix is healthy, vigorous sex can cause some bleeding. Mild inflammatory and reactive processes also can result in vaginal bleeding. Vaginal bleeding can also occur after sex (a few days) because of contracting a sexually transmitted infection).

In older women, especially in those who have passed through the change of life (menopause), bleeding after sex must never be taken lightly. It is always a cause for concern until a check-up has confirmed otherwise.

Other causes of vaginal bleeding after sex include:

• Cervical cancer

• Cervicitis (inflammation of the cervix).

• Cervical polyps

• Uterine polyps

• Genital infections such as herpes

• Injury to the uterine lining during sex

• Inadequate lubrication of the vaginal walls before sexual intercourse

• An irregular period

• Vaginal atrophy (shrinking of the vagina)

• Vaginal dryness

In the post-menopausal woman, vaginal atrophy and dryness are a common source of bleeding after sex, but bleeding after sex should never be ignored at any age. When bleeding after sex persists, a doctor's visit is warranted for a check-up, Pap smear, and other tests.

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