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Advice From a Doctor: Bleeding After Sex During Pregnancy

Advice From a Doctor: Bleeding After Sex During Pregnancy
Medically reviewed by Dr. Marsha Dunkely


Vaginal bleeding after sex experienced when a woman is pregnant can be alarming. Our physician Dr. Cherilyn  Cecchini discusses what may lead to this symptom and what you need to know if you find yourself in this situation.  

There are many reasons why a woman may experience vaginal bleeding after sex when she is pregnant. Bleeding during the first trimester can occur in up to 15 to 25% of pregnancies. One study determined that spotting is most common during the sixth and seventh week of pregnancy and the American Pregnancy Association noted that sex during a normal pregnancy is not a risk for miscarriage. Although vaginal bleeding after sex while pregnant is common and often not a sign of a serious issue, it is important to check in with your healthcare provider if you experience any amount of vaginal bleeding when pregnant. 

What are the causes Bleeding After Sex During Pregnancy

Implantation Bleeding

Implantation bleeding is one common cause of vaginal bleeding that women may experience at the onset of pregnancy. 

It is thought that implantation bleeding occurs when the fertilized egg attaches itself to the lining of the uterus. Although common, some women may not experience implantation bleeding or see any spotting early in the pregnancy. Both experiences are considered normal. 

Implantation bleeding is usually light and only lasts a few days. It may be noticeably lighter than a woman’s normal menstrual period.  Implantation bleeding generally occurs around 10 to 14 days after ovulation, which is around the time women are expecting their menstrual period. Given this, some women may mistake implantation bleeding for a lighter menstrual period, so be sure to keep this in mind if there is a chance you may be pregnant and experience blood flow that differs from your typical menstrual period around this time.

Do You Have Vaginal Bleeding During Pregnancy? Chat With a Doctor Online 24 Hours a Day

Bleeding Caused by Changes to the Cervix

The cervix is the circular band of muscle that separates the uterus from the vagina. The cervix experiences many changes during pregnancy. 

When a woman conceives, the cervix moves and remains in a higher position in the vagina. Increased blood flow to the cervix when a woman is pregnant leads to a softer texture and increased sensitivity. 

Changes to the cervix may be the underlying reason a pregnant woman experiences irritation and vaginal bleeding after sex. 

Bleeding Caused by Infection

Vaginal bleeding experienced at any time when a woman is pregnant may be a sign of infection. Certain infections cause the cervix to become irritated or inflamed and vulnerable to bleeding, including:

  • Yeast infections
  • Bacterial Vaginosis
  • Trichomoniasis
  • Gonorrhea
  • Chlamydia
  • Herpes

Bleeding Caused by Ectopic Pregnancy

In an uncomplicated  pregnancy, the fertilized egg travels through the fallopian tubes and implants  in the lining of the uterus. With an ectopic pregnancy, the fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus, most often in the fallopian tube. In rare cases, the egg may implant  in an ovary or the cervix. 

A quick An accurate and timely diagnosis of ectopic pregnancy is imperative, since this  condition may be life threatening. If the fertilized egg implants in one of thefallopian tubes, it may cause the fallopian tube to rupture as it grows 

An ectopic pregnancy may result after damage to the fallopian tubes, which  is sometimes caused by: 

  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Endometriosis
  • Smoking
  • Prior surgery on your fallopian tubes

Fertility treatments, such as in vitro fertilization

Bleeding Caused by Placenta Previa

The placenta is an organ that forms during pregnancy to provide oxygen and nutrients from the mother’s bloodstream to the developing baby. In most pregnancies, the placenta implants at the top or on the side of the uterus away from the opening of the cervix.

Placenta previa occurs when the placenta implants at the bottom of the uterus and partially or completely covers the cervix. 

Vaginal bleeding experienced by a pregnant woman after 20 weeks gestation may indicate placenta previa. Sexual intercourse may cause vaginal bleeding in women with placenta previa throughout the pregnancy. Since the placenta is implanted near the bottom of the uterus, it may start to separate and bleed as the uterus stretches to accommodate the growing baby.

Chat With a Doctor Online For Advice Regarding Safe Sex During Pregnancy

Bleeding Caused by Placental Abruption

Placental abruption occurs when the placenta detaches from the uterus early in the pregnancy before the time of delivery. It commonly occurs around 25 weeks of pregnancy in roughly 1% of pregnancies. Placental abruption may lead to spontaneous vaginal bleeding in pregnant women unrelated to sexual intercourse or after sexual intercourse. 

Also read: Your Doctors Online Helped Me Through My High Risk Pregnancy

Bleeding Caused by a Subchorionic Hematoma

Subchorionic hematoma, also known as subchorionic bleeding, occurs when blood forms between the placenta and the uterus. It may lead to light spotting or it may cause no symptoms and it happens most often during the first trimester of pregnancy. Some subchorionic hematomas are diagnosed during routine ultrasounds. It typically resolves on its own without the need for any medical or surgical intervention. (  

Also Read: Sex positions during pregnancy 

Bleeding After Sex Caused by Miscarriage

Vaginal bleeding when pregnant may be a sign that a woman is experiencing a miscarriage or loss of pregnancy. Bleeding due to a miscarriage is often heavy and it may last for several days. 

Signs and symptoms of a miscarriage also include:

  • Cramping
  • Loss of pregnancy symptoms such as nausea
  • White-pink mucus
  • Passing of clots of tissue-like material
  • Cramps
  • Lower back pain

Bleeding by Trimester 

Vaginal bleeding experienced during the first trimester of pregnancy is more common than bleeding experienced in the second or third trimesters. 

Light bleeding in the second trimester may be caused by irritation or inflammation of the cervix whereas heavy bleeding may  related to the placenta.

Vaginal bleeding during the third r trimester may be a sign of preterm labor, full term labor, placenta previa or placental abruption. Certain infections may lead to vaginal bleeding at any time throughout the pregnancy. 

If you experience any amount of vaginal bleeding at any point during your pregnancy, be sure to contact your healthcare provider immediately. Noting the amount of blood, the color of the blood and the duration of the bleeding are helpful in determining what may be the cause of the bleeding.


The first action to take is to abstain from intercourse, especially in the case of a more severe condition such as placenta abruption. Furthermore, your doctor may recommend pelvic rest, avoid inserting anything in the vagina until further notice, or antibiotics in case of an infection.

Depending on the condition, stage and severity, the following treatment may be required:

  • Ectopic pregnancy: medical or surgical treatment.
  • Vaginal lacerations: In case of profuse bleeding, surgical treatment and blood transfusion may be necessary.
  • Placental abruption or placenta previa: Cesarean delivery and a blood transfusion may be necessary.


Abstinence from sex may be the only prevention until or unless your doctor has cleared you for sexual activity. Depending on the severity and condition, a change in sexual positions or decreasing the intensity of sexual activity may help prevent bleeding as well.

When to Consult a Doctor

At any point during your pregnancy, you can quickly and easily access a trusted physician using Your Doctors Online. Our app is simple to use and connects you within minutes to a credible provider at any time. We are confident that you’ll rest well knowing you have a doctor at your fingertips to answer all of your questions. Download our app today and sleep better tonight. 

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FAQs About Bleeding Afer Sex During Pregnancy Answered by Your Doctors Online Team

Is bleeding after sex while pregnant normal?

Any amount of vaginal bleeding after sex can raise a concern. Some amount of bleeding or spotting that subsides soon after is considered normal. However, if the bleeding is consistent, heavy, or accompanied by lower abdominal pain, it is advisable to inform your doctor or visit the ER. 

Is sexual activity safe during pregnancy?

Sex is a normal part of pregnancy. In the case of a normal pregnancy, intercourse does not harm the baby.

How much blood is too much after sex while pregnant?

If you experience heavy bleeding after penetration, your pregnancy may be at risk, and you should follow up with your doctor or visit the ER.

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