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Heather Corinna replies:
I've been having sex for quite a while now, but about a month and a half ago I noticed that I've begun bleeding after vaginal intercourse. The bleeding is pretty light--though lately it's been getting a tiny bit heavier--and is either bright red or pink. Also, the day after I'm usually a bit tender and swollen, which is not normal for me. I'm on the pill, and take it perfectly, and I also get my exams yearly, along with sti testing--my partner and I are clean and in a long term monogamous relationship. I just made an rx appointment for next week, but I'm wondering what the possible causes are for these rather unpleasant developments. Sex doesn't hurt as long as we use lots of lube (which I used to not have to use), but bleeding and feeling tender for a day afterwards sort of put a damper on things. Any ideas/advice? I'm starting to get worried.
The most obvious culprits for persistent bleeding following intercourse would be:
If you're having sex using only the pill, the STIs would be the first place I'd look, though if you've both had a recent full screening with negative results, since both of those are easy to test for in men and women, you could rule that out.
Since you also say you're swollen and tender for a day or so after, I'm wondering if perhaps you're not either overdoing the intercourse or engaging in it when youy're really not that aroused, or continuing with it after your arousal has gone to bed, as it were. If that's the case, then I'd suggest you have a chat about that and be sure that vaginal entry really is something you're only doing when that -- precisely -- is what you want to be doing, what feels good for you, and that if at any point it stops feeling good in the midst, you shift to a different activity. I'd also be sure that when you have intercourse, you're not jumping into it prematurely -- if you're having any sort of discomfort at all when it's introduced, that's a good way to know that you and yours probably need to slow down and engage in some other, less invasive sexual activities first or for longer before you go there.
Since you've been persistently sore and having the bleeding, I'd suggest you take a pass on intercourse and vaginal entry full stop until you find the cause, however.
You say the sex doesn't hurt, but I'm also wondering if it does feel really good? Obviously, the goal with sex isn't just for it not to hurt: whatever you're doing should feel not even just good, but great, for both partners. If it doesn't -- in general, or at certain times -- then you'll need to make some adjustments, whether that means changing positions, how aggressive you and yours may be having it, or the depth of the intercourse or just doing other activities entirely.
For now, I'd not be very worried: you have your appointment coming up, so just hold off on the vaginal sex (which means vulval stuff is fine so long as that feels good) until that appointment and relax. if the bleeding and soreness is only happening with intercourse, and not at other times, it's unlikely that it's anything super-serious.
And just in case: if your partner isn't up-to-date with his screenings -- for monogamous couples, that's a screening once every year -- now would be a good time for him to get that taken care of, too.