Your Birth Control May Be The Reason You're Spotty After Sex

Spotting after sex is a very common concern that is frequently asked about at gynecological visits. While it is a symptom that can feel alarming, it is rarely a sign of a serious health condition, according to WebMD. However, the fact that it isn't a major concern for your health doesn't mean that you should necessarily have to live with it if you find it embarrassing, inconvenient, or even just problematic for your bedding. It also doesn't mean that you shouldn't check in with your doctor.


While post-sex spotting can be caused by a myriad of causes, one of the most common is hormonal birth control, as detailed by Health. Hormonal methods of birth control include pills, patches, rings, implants, injections, and hormonal intrauterine devices (IUD). Other than barrier methods, like condoms, the only common birth control method currently available that doesn't involve synthetic hormones is a copper IUD.

Here is everything you need to know about this type of spotting and what it means for you and your future birth control choices. 

Adjustment spotting

Most spotting, after sex or otherwise, takes place within the first few months of starting a new form of hormonal birth control. During this adjustment period, the hormones in your pill, patch, implant, ring, injection, or IUD are causing changes inside your body, including thickening the cervical mucus. Another change these hormones can induce is the thinning of the uterine lining. When this lining, known as the endometrium, becomes too thin, breakthrough bleeding can result (via University of Washington).


For some women, the body will adjust to a new level of hormones and a thinner endometrium. After about three months, the spotting will lessen and then disappear, along with other adjustment symptoms like nausea or breast tenderness (via The Center for Women). Other women, unfortunately, will experience these types of symptoms beyond the adjustment period. When this happens, it may be time to consider speaking to your doctor about switching to another form of birth control. 

Spotting as long-term side effect

Birth control methods that are progesterone-only — rather than a combination of estrogen and progesterone — are more likely to cause the extent of endometrial thinning that tends to lead to spotting after sex and between periods (via MedicalNewsToday). If you have been experiencing spotting on a progestogen-only pill or while using a hormonal IUD or birth control injection, ask your doctor if you are a safe candidate for a combination pill. Adding estrogen to your birth control method may allow enough stabilization of the endometrium to prevent future spotting.


Women who smoke cigarettes, take hormonal birth control continuously, or are infected with chlamydia or gonorrhea are at an increased risk of spotting, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Working closely with your doctor is the best way to rule out other causes of spotting after sex and find the method of birth control that allows you to feel healthiest and most in control of your body and sex life.