The Perils Of Post-Sex Bleeding, And What To Do About It

Imagine if there's always the possibility you could start bleeding after sex, or even during. Like, so much that you have to change the sheets afterwards.

The Perils Of A Sensitive Cervix, And What To Do About It

by Stevie Martin |
Published on

Imagine if, when you have sex, there’s always the possibility you could start bleeding after sex, or even during. Like, so much that you have to change the sheets afterwards.

‘I’m sort of seeing a guy at the moment, and it took a few times to have sex because I have this thing where I bleed everywhere,’ says Hayley, 26. ‘At one point he wiped his hand across his forehead and covered himself with my blood. We’re still going out, though – it’s a good barometer for whether someone is a nice person or not.’

Why am I bleeding after sex?

What Hayley has is a sensitive cervix – not a technical medical term, and actually not really a disorder in and of itself. But it definitely affects her sex life, and means she can’t be in certain positions – as well as having to be constantly on the look-out. ‘It doesn't happen all the time, so I don’t usually tell people, in case we’re fine, but when it was happening a lot with my ex ≠ who was about seven and a half inches – I went to the doctor,’ says Hayley.

‘A frequent cause of bleeding during pap smears and PCB (post-coital bleeding) is due to harmless enlargement of glandular tissues that are usually further inside the cervical canal,’ explains Dr. Rebecca Downey. This tissue is thinner and bleeds more easily – it’s more common in teenagers, people who take birth control pills, or during pregnancy.’

Post-coital bleeding, or PCB, can, however, mean a whole host of things. And some a lot more concerning than just the annoyance/embarrassment Hayley has to deal with after sex. Depending on the age group, some underlying causes may be more common than others. ‘Sexually transmitted infections are a common culprit, and chlamydia is the most common STI in sexually active women through age 24,’ says Rebecca. It could also, however, be something as simple as just being on the pill. ‘Common side effects of the use of contraceptive pills/patches/rings and shots can result in PCB and breakthrough bleeding. The changes in the hormonal profile can thin out the uterine lining, making it more unstable, and thus prone to bleeding with sex.’

Bleeding after sex: What should I do?

The main thing to take away from this is that you need to see your GP if you’re bleeding after sex. Even if it has happened just a couple of times. Because while it could be an STI, or something as simple as hormonal changes from the pill, there are some fairly serious problems that cite PCB as a symptom. ‘Cancers that can result in PCB are cancers of the vulva and vagina itself, or within the uterus. Uterine (endometrial) cancer, is the most common gynecological cancer,’ explains Rebecca. ‘PCB is regarded as an important potential symptom of cervical cancer, however the majority of women with cervical cancer do not have PCB.’

Weirdly, there’s not really that much information on it in terms of stats (The overall incidence of PCB in women is reported to be about 6%), but that doesn’t mean you’re the only one. ‘I found out someone I work with has a sensitive cervix like me, and it was great, because she’s had a baby and has got a functioning marriage and is like a normal person,’ says Hayley. ‘It was good to find someone who is going through a similar, and still being able to lead a normal life.’

Thankfully, though, there are a few things that can be done if you’re bleeding loads after sex because your cervix is acting up.

‘If the bleeding is persistent or quite severe, this cause of PCB [from a sensitive cervix] can be treated with cryotherapy – freezing – or electrocautery – heat-based treatment,’ says Rebecca. ‘There are potential side effects of the treatment, though, so you should probably discuss it with your gynaecologist.

Which brings us neatly to the importance of going to see your gynaecologist. If you bleed at any point that isn’t your period, you have to go get checked out. Stat. And if you bleed during a pap smear, then this isn't an excuse to not have any more pap smears. Get them more regularly.

‘PCB is an important potential symptom of cervical cancer,’ warns Rebecca. ‘However the majority of women with cervical cancer don’t have PCB, so you need to have a pap smear if you have PCB!’

Bleeding after sex: Am I going to be like this forever?

It’s not all scaremongering, though – if you get yourself checked, according to Rebecca, over half of women will have a ‘spontaneous resolution of symptoms after six months’. So you might not be stuck with it for the rest of your life. In the meantime, probably invest in a load of sheets and be prepared to load up the washing machine way more than usual.

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Follow Stevie on Twitter: @5tevieM

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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