Red, brown, or pink spotting is a common sign of early pregnancy. The quantity, frequency, and timing of the bleeding can give you better insight of the cause of the spotting.
While vaginal bleeding outside of your period can be alarming, it happens more often than you would think. An estimated 25 to 30 percent of pregnant women will experience some degree of spotting or vaginal bleeding in early pregnancy, according to Huggies.com. Spotting can also occur after intercourse for non-pregnancy related reasons.
Light spotting was one of my first indications that I was pregnant. I was late for my period and about to purchase a pregnancy test when I started experiencing light bleeding with small pink spots. I thought that I had started my period but the spotting soon ceased. I later found out that the light spotting was implantation bleeding.
“The vast majority of spotting is harmless,” says Alyssa Stephenson-Famy, M.D., Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialist at the University of Washington, Seattle. “But bleeding, no matter how scant, can be indicative of a variety of complications, including miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, and placenta previa, and thus should never be ignored.”
What the Experts Say
Spotting after intercourse can have a number of causes, ranging from injury to the vagina to early pregnancy. Here’s what some health experts have to say about spotting after intercourse and how it relates to pregnancy.
“Spotting after intercourse can be common for a small percentage of pregnant women, and bleeding may sometimes be caused by reasons that have nothing to do with pregnancy, such as infections, trauma, or tears to the vaginal wall.”
Pregnancy: The Ultimate Week-by-Week Pregnancy Guide, Laura Riley
“Slight bleeding at the time of implantation can be mistaken for a menstrual period. Therefore, the woman should be carefully questioned regarding the duration and characteristics of the last episode of vaginal bleeding. This is especially important because abnormal vaginal bleeding is often associated with an ectopic pregnancy.”
Primary Care for Women, Phyllis Carolyn Leppert, Jeffery F. Peipert
“Some women can have vaginal bleeding or spotting during first trimester. In most cases, spotting is not a sign of a problem. Light bleeding in the first trimester is often caused by the implantation of the fertilized egg in the wall of the uterus.”
Pregnancy from A to Z, Dr. Irina Webster
“Implantation bleeding is usually light and does not indicate problems with the baby. As a sign of a threatened miscarriage, bleeding often stops and pregnancy continues normally. If the pregnancy is definitely miscarrying, bleeding is profuse and is accompanied by pain and the passing of clots and embryonic material.”
other and Baby Health, Andy Raffles, Felicity Fine, Harriet Skarkey, Yehudi Gordon
“Spotting is very common in very early pregnancy, whether or not you’ve undergone fertility treatment. Spotting may be caused by an embryo burrowing into the uterus and causing leakage of blood from small blood vessels.”
Infertility for Dummies, Sharon Perkins, RN, Jackie Meyers-Thompson
Implantation bleeding typically occurs six to 12 days following conception, according to Heathline.com. If you notice light bleeding in your underwear several days after intercourse, it may be implantation bleeding.
This type of spotting is harmless and typically presents as small pink or brown spots. Heavier bleeding that resembles a typical period is a cause for concern. Contact your physician if you experience heavy bleeding that’s not your period, especially if it’s combined with fever, cramps, or chills.
You may be wondering how you can distinguish implantation bleeding from other types of spotting. Pay close attention to the length, frequency, and color of the blood. Implantation bleeding generally lasts for a few hours up to two days, according to the American Pregnancy Association.
Implantation bleeding may start and stop, unlike your regular period which is steady. This type of bleeding does not contain blood clots and can vary in color from red and brown to light pink.
Other Common Causes
Spotting after intercourse is not always an early sign of pregnancy. The bleeding may come from the vagina, cervix, or urinary tract. Some of the most common causes of spotting after intercourse include:
- Trauma to the cervix or vagina: Lacerations can develop in the vagina due to too-rough intercourse or from a larger or thicker penis entering a smaller vaginal canal. With deeper penetration, cervical bleeding may occur.
- Vaginal dryness: Inadequate foreplay or lack of lubrication can lead to injuries in the vagina caused by dryness.
- Cervical polyps: Benign cervical polyps can develop on the surface of the cervical canal and cause irregular menstrual bleeding.
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs): Gonorrhea and chlamydia can both cause vaginal bleeding following intercourse.
- Cervical cancer: While a rare cause of spotting, cervical cancer can cause unexpected bleeding.
- Vaginal atrophy: This type of vaginal dryness can occur in menopausal women who are not taking hormone replacement therapy.
- Cervical ectropion: A normal physiological change of the cervix caused by inflammation.
- Vaginitis: Gardnerella and yeast infections can create swelling and inflammation in the cervix and vagina.
If you are experiencing persistent or recurrent spotting after intercourse, it’s important to get evaluated by a doctor. While the spotting may be a normal sign of pregnancy, it could also be something more sinister, such as an injury, early miscarriage, or other health condition.
If you believe you may be pregnant, look for other signs of early pregnancy, such as breast tenderness, food aversions, fatigue, nausea, mood swings, frequent urination, and abdominal bloating.
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