Does Sex Make Your Period Come Back?

Irregular bleeding post-sex can be alarming, especially when it’s accompanied by blood-soaked bedsheets. OB/GYNs say that sex can have an impact on your period but only to a certain degree.

Generally, non-penetrative sex can egg on your period if it’s due, and orgasm will make it come sooner. But it won’t stop it once it’s rolling.

Causes

Generally speaking, sex won’t change your period or menstrual cycle. If you’re bleeding post-sex and you weren’t already expecting your period, it’s likely due to some other reason. The only exception to this is pregnancy. If you’re pregnant, your body will start your period on its own if it isn’t already scheduled.

However, sex can kick-start your period if you have old blood in your uterus that isn’t fully shed after the follicular phase of your cycle ends. The sex hormone prostaglandin may help to stimulate the shedding of this blood. This is one of the reasons why lubrication is recommended when having sex on your period.

Alternatively, your bleeding post-sex could be caused by irritation of the vaginal or cervical lining. It could also be a sign of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). If you’re experiencing spotting or bleeding after sex, it’s important to schedule an appointment with your doctor to check for an infection and discuss treatment options. They’ll likely do a pelvic exam and a pap smear to see what the issue is. If you’re not a candidate for a pap smear or the doctor determines it’s not necessary, they can still perform a pelvic ultrasound to get a closer look at your cervix. This can reveal if there are any abnormalities like polyps or cervical cancer, which are not usually related to sex but should still be checked out right away.

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Symptoms

A lot of the time sex can cause bleeding, but it doesn’t always mean you’re getting your period. This can happen for a number of reasons such as a little bit of tearing or friction that took place during penetrative sex, cervical inflammation (called cervicitis), sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia and gonorrhea, or even cervical cancer. Bleeding after sex is not normal and you should visit your doctor if it’s ongoing, especially if there are other symptoms such as foul-smelling discharge, pelvic pain, or a change in the color of your sanitary products.

If you’re on your period and orgasm during sex, it could make the bleeding start sooner than usual because it can jiggle and contract the uterus — which can force out any old blood that hasn’t shed yet. But that doesn’t mean you’ll bleed more than usual during your period, says Cummings.

Typically, sex doesn’t have any impact on your actual menstrual cycle unless you become pregnant. But even then, it doesn’t have a dramatic effect and is often more of a coincidence than anything else.

Treatment

For most women, sex won’t make their period come back earlier or later than usual. However, if your menstrual cycle was already pretty light before you had sex (and/or if you have a low hormone level), it’s possible that jostling the uterus with orgasm could make it shed a little bit more than usual. Plus, there’s also the potential that the oxytocin, adrenaline, and semen released during orgasms can cause the uterus to contract, thereby prompting some bleeding.

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Bleeding between periods is a problem that requires a visit to your doctor, regardless of the cause. It can signal an infection, abnormalities in the neck of the womb, or cancer. In addition, if you’re postmenopausal, it can be a sign of cervical cancer or endometrial cancer.

For most, the bleeding stops on its own, or with treatment. If your doctor thinks that there might be something wrong, they may order a Pap smear or other tests to get a closer look at the cervix. They might also recommend pelvic ultrasound, which gives a detailed look at the pelvic organs. If you’re worried about a potential cervical cancer, you can ask your doctor about HPV testing (the pap test is a good way to screen for it) and a sex exam. They might also offer a vaccine for HPV, which can prevent cervical cancer.

Prevention

It’s definitely no secret that the best way to avoid period drama and blood-stained Egyptian cotton sheets is to use protection whenever you have sex. But what many teen girls don’t realize is that bleeding after sex isn’t always connected to their menstrual cycle. It can happen for any number of reasons, and it doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

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For example, if you are at the end of your ovulation phase and you have an orgasm, this can sometimes kick-start your period because it may force the last dregs of the uterine lining to be expelled. And even if you aren’t at the end of your menstrual cycle, there are still other reasons to bleed post-sex: infections, vaginal tears, or a cervical cancer symptom called cervical dysplasia (which is often caused by HPV and can be prevented with a vaccine that is available starting at age nine).

In addition, extreme stress can have an impact on hormones, leading to erratic periods and spotting. If you are under a lot of pressure right now, try to find ways to lower your stress levels. If the spotting persists, talk to your doctor about it, especially if you are postmenopausal and haven’t had a regular Pap test in a while. They may recommend a colposcopy to get a look at your cervix to see what the problem is.

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