Just because you’re pregnant does not mean that sexual urges are going to go away! However, if you have experienced bleeding after sex while pregnant, this can be a very frightening—if common— experience. Let’s take a look at this problem, as well as some possible solutions and guidelines as to when you should seek medical help.
The Causes of Bleeding After Sex While Pregnant
There are many normal reasons why a woman can bleed after sex when she is pregnant. Firstly, there is a great increase in blood flow to the area of the cervix and vagina—and many more capillaries (small blood vessels) to carry the blood where it needs to go. These capillaries are delicate and can easily rupture during intercourse. The cervix itself is also tender and can easily get irritated, or bleeding may be caused by cervical polyps: noncancerous growths on the cervix itself. Even if you bleed, it is important to remember that sex will not hurt your baby and that the baby is safe inside the uterus and sealed off from the vagina by a thick plug at the head of the cervix.
That being said, if you have had some bleeding after sex, it is best to talk to your doctor or midwife before having sex again. In most cases, doctors will not see this as a problem. However, if you have had a history of miscarriages in the past, some doctors will recommend that you refrain from sex during the first trimester—just to be on the safe side.
How to Avoid Bleeding After Sex While Pregnant
While there is no way to absolutely prevent bleeding after sex while pregnant, there are ways you can reduce your chances, such as:
- Having sex more gently than usual
- Using a water-based lubricant to avoid irritation to the vagina or cervix
- Experimenting with different positions, such as rear entry positions, which put less pressure on the uterus
Some women, particularly as the pregnancy advances, prefer other forms of intimacy such as showering together, cuddling or massages. Whatever route you choose to go, it is good to have open communication between you and your partner about this issue.
When to Seek Medical Help
While some light, painless bleeding after sex is generally nothing to worry about, you should always report any bleeding to your doctor or midwife. That is because it could be a sign of something more sinister going on, such as an impending miscarriage, a vaginal infection, problems with the placenta like placental abruption or other issues that will need more advanced medical care. If you report bleeding, your doctor will sometimes have you make an appointment for an exam and even an extra ultrasound to make sure all is well.
Your doctor will likely encourage you to wear a panty liner or pad to monitor just how much bleeding is occurring and also have you note what you have noticed about the blood—is it pink? red? brown? Are there clots? All this can give your doctor important information about what is going on.
You should call 911, however, if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Heavy bleeding, whether it is painful or not
- Severe, persistent cramps
- Pain in the lower abdomen
- Dizziness or light-headedness
- A fever above 100.5 degrees
These could be signs of an impending miscarriage or other serious complication.
In short, while mild bleeding without cramping or pain after sex is usually nothing to worry about, it is also a good idea to call your doctor to report this problem just to be on the safe side. However, with some preventative measures, there is no reason you cannot enjoy a satisfying sex life even while pregnant, provided your doctor says that it’s OK. Enjoy the time together—it will be different when the baby comes!