What is spotting?
Light bleeding that occurs outside your usual menstrual period is known as “spotting.”
Why am I spotting after sex?
Some people experience light spotting after vaginal penetration.
- Spotting can occur after vaginal intercourse when you are new to sex or if you have sex when you are not aroused. Arousal helps the vagina make secretions and be more relaxed during intercourse, which means less opportunity for friction and small tears.
- Sometimes spotting after sex can be caused by certain medications (for example, antidepressants or cold/flu medications) that cause dryness in the vagina. Chemicals in pools, laundry detergents, and condoms can all cause dryness as well.
- Spotting after vaginal intercourse can also be caused by infections (such as yeast infections, vaginitis, STIs), endometriosis, cysts, or other cervical abnormalities. If you have frequent spotting after intercourse, it is important to discuss with your doctor and rule out some of the more serious causes.
Why am I spotting even though I haven't had sex?
If you notice spotting and you haven’t recently had sex, there are some other possible causes.
- A common side effect of hormonal birth control is spotting in between periods. Usually this symptom resolves after a few months, however, it is likely to persist if you are on the hormonal IUD or the progestin-only pill.
- If you are not on birth control, spotting can occur around the time of ovulation due to a drop in estrogen.
- Pregnancy can also cause spotting. Most commonly this type of spotting occurs during weeks 5 and 8 of pregnancy.
- Sometimes infections (like pelvic inflammatory disease or a urinary tract infection) or even certain cancers can cause spotting. Again, if you are concerned about your spotting/bleeding, contact a doctor to rule out more serious causes.
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