Q&A: Non-Lubricated Condoms And Vaginal Bleeding

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QUESTION: Last night, my boyfriend and I had sex and he used a non lubricated condom, which became painful, so I had him stop. This morning when I went to the bathroom I noticed that there was some bleeding, like from a cut or something. Is this something that will heal on its own or if I need to go see my gynecologist?

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Although the vagina can withstand quite a lot when it comes to sex, it remains a very sensitive part of women’s bodies. The vagina can easily tear during sex, especially when the sex is full of friction as can occur during sex that is not well lubricated.

Most Cuts Are Small

The good news is that most vaginal cuts and tears are small, and women may only notice very light vaginal bleeding such as when they go to the bathroom, like you noticed.

In cases of light cuts and light bleeding, the vagina tends to heal on its own in most cases, and often fairly quickly, such as within a day or two. It is likely to heal more quickly if you don’t further aggravate it, such as with more intercourse or even finger penetration, while it heals.

If Bleeding Is Heavier

Now, if you feel like the bleeding is moderate or heavy, please consider checking in with a healthcare provider, such as your gynecologist. You might also take out a mirror and look at your vaginal entrance or the parts of your vulva to see if there are any visible tears. Some women even ask their partner to look for them, as it can be difficult to see clearly when it is your own body.

If you see visible cuts, you might call your healthcare provider to ask for advice. They may suggest that you come in for a visit or, if it seems more mild to them, they may suggest some at-home or over-the-counter treatment.

Reducing Future Risk

Here’s how to reduce your risk of tearing in the future:

Condoms that are not lubricated may feel particularly uncomfortable for many women, as it adds to the friction of intercourse. To make sex more comfortable, add some store-bought lubricant of your own to the outside of the condom – once it is already on the penis – or to your own vaginal entrance.

You can also increase your own natural vaginal lubrication by spending more time in foreplay, doing things that feel sexually exciting and pleasant to you, however, you may still find that sex feels better with a little store-bought lubricant and that’s okay too.

Talking About Painful Sex

Finally, I want to commend both you and your boyfriend for the way that you handled having painful sex. Not all women feel comfortable telling their partner that sex hurts, or asking them to stop.

Also, not all men are respectful of their partner’s choices to stop sex, nor are all couples often careful enough to use condoms when they want to reduce their risk of pregnancy or infection. You two have made choices that contribute to the strength of your relationship, and that’s important.

Dr. Debby Herbenick (M.P.H., Ph.D.)

is a sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, Associate Director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University and author of several books including Sex Made Easy and Because It Feels Good: A Woman's Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction.
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