October 13, 2008

Q&A: Vaginal Cuts After Sex, Should I Get Stitches?

A reader asks about what to do if there is a significant amount of bleeding during sex and the possibility of cuts inside the vagina.

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Question: My boyfriend and I were having sex last night and we noticed there was blood everywhere all of the sudden. I found a cut on the outside of my vagina, in the folds between my vulva and outer labia. The bleeding has stopped now, but the cut is pretty long and deep. If it were on any other part of my body I would consider stitches. What should I do? Can I let it heal on its own?

I’m so sorry to hear about your cuts; it can be scary to notice blood during sex.

I’d like to  strongly encourage you to call your healthcare provider’s office for advice and to ask if they want you to come in for an appointment. If you are worried about cost issues, local family planning clinics such as Planned Parenthood often offer sliding scale fees, or reduced rates, so a visit to a healthcare provider may be more affordable than it seems. Ask about cost while you’re on the phone with the clinic if this concerns you.

Too Late For Stitches

Depending on how much time has already passed, it may be too late for stitches but it is always good to have long or deep cuts looked at by a trained healthcare provider, particularly in the genital area where the open cut may come into contact with bodily fluids or bacteria, given that the genitals are close to the anal area.

Infection Risk

Sometimes healthcare providers may prescribe certain antibiotic creams or ointments for genital cuts to reduce the risk of possible infection. Also, depending on where the cut is located and how severe it is, some genital cuts may heal in such a way that scar tissue develops and can cause sexual problems later, and this concern can factor into the type of treatment that a healthcare provider may suggest.

Lubrication To Reduce Risk

The risk of genital cuts can be reduced by using a store-bought lubricant during sex or by having more gentle, rather than more vigorous, sex. That said, sometimes bodies rub against each other in unexpected ways, and even the most gentle, lubricated sex can result in a cut or other injury.

Though some people feel embarrassed about injuries that result from sex, they should still be looked at by a trained healthcare provider – especially, as you put it, when a cut like that anywhere else on your body would prompt you to visit a healthcare provider. Doctors and nurses help people with sexual issues and genital cuts and tears more often than you might think.