Is it normal to bleed during sex?

Dear Dr. Patti:

I have been sexually active for five years and with the same partner for seven months. But for the past month and a half, every time we make love, I bleed, lightly but enough, during and after. Also, sex is a little painful at first but then is okay. This has never happened before with us (nor with anyone else I've been with, for that matter), and it is worrying both of us. Do you have any idea or suggestion as to what may be causing this and what it is? --M


Dear M:

First, march yourself to the nearest gynecologist's office and get this checked out! As with all bodily functions gone awry, with unusual bleeding or discharge your first line of defense is medical assessment and intervention. You may have a little lesion, cyst or sore that is reopening from the constant thrusting or rubbing inside; or you may have something else occurring that requires medication or surgery. Given the rampant incidence of such STDs as chlamydia, herpes and human papilloma virus (which, along with being the source of genital warts, is the cause of most cervical cancer), it's wise to be safe rather than sorry.

If everything checks out in the medical department, then you want to look at what's going on in bed. Perhaps you are too dry during penetrative sex. Be sure to use ample lubrication during sexual contact, especially if you are not sufficiently stimulated or find it hard to maintain arousal. It's only when a woman continues to stay turned on that she produces the natural lubricating fluids that keep things moving smoothly inside her vagina.

The aspect of pain also troubles me and makes me think that you may not be amply prepared before he enters you. Talk about what turns you on with your lover, and work with him to achieve the right level of arousal before penetration. And talk to him about what doesn't feel good. Sex is a pleasure-based experience. Unfortunately, when some women feel a painful sensation during sex, they then shut down to avoid feeling that same pain again. If you find that you are shutting down, like a breaker switch, to avert that sensation, then you may need more than just a little bottle of goop. Be sure to stop what you are doing as a couple and address these issues pronto, before you end up with much more complex challenges in bed.