My boyfriend and I have never had sex, but we do a lot of other stuff, and one such act is fingering. Though he had just used his one finger most of the time, on one occasion he tried using two fingers, and just after a few seconds I saw that his finger was covered with blood. We stopped right there, but there was a very minute level of bleeding along with vaginal discharge, which was clear and liquidy. I am scared as I have no idea what happened, and why I was bleeding.
Dear Bloody Wary,
Thank you for reaching out! It is great that you and your partner are experimenting with new methods of sexual pleasure. It sounds like there is a good amount of communication, consent, and respect between the two of you, and it’s good to hear that when something unexpected happened, you stopped activities.
It is natural to be concerned when you notice blood or unusual discharge, as sometimes it can be a sign of an issue. That said, this sounds like nothing to worry about! Vaginal discharge is a natural part of the bodily response in people with a vagina, and it serves a variety of purposes, including lubrication and self-cleaning, which protects against infections. It is common to see discharge during sexual activity as a response to sexual arousal. Abnormal discharge or signs of a potential infection include a strong or foul smell, a thick, chunky consistency, or coloring that is green or yellow.
Though startling, minute-level bleeding after penetration — either from toys/objects, fingers, or a penis — does not indicate a critical health concern. Blood that appears after fingering is, according to Healthline, “likely normal and the result of minor scratches or cuts in the vagina.” This kind of bleeding, during penetration or afterward, can also be caused by friction due to dryness. Blood can also result from the stretching, wearing, or tearing of the hymen, a thin tissue that frames the vagina. Quick note: Though people sometimes associate hymen tears with sexual penetration or losing one’s virginity, the hymen is worn down over time and can be stretched or torn by non-sexual things like exercise and tampon insertion. For many people, sexual penetration won’t even have an effect on their hymen, and any bleeding is likely the result of one of the other causes mentioned above.
However, if bleeding extends to a longer period of time, such as a few days, that is a cause for concern, and it would be wise to consult a healthcare professional, such as a Sexual Health and Wellness provider at UHS. They provide a wide range of resources from assisting with birth control options to answering any questions about issues including irregular bleeding and vaginal discharge.
There are some methods that you and your partner can practice to prevent bleeding in the future. For example, your partner could make sure that their fingernails are cut to prevent any cuts to or near the vagina. You can utilize water or silicone-based lubricant before penetration, in addition to waiting until you are sufficiently aroused to engage in penetrative activities. Also, continuing to express any type of discomfort to your partner — like if they hit your cervix or if there’s too much friction — makes sexual activities more enjoyable for the both of you. Overall, remember that sexual exploration should be a source of pleasure for both you and your partner. You can learn a lot about your boyfriend’s and your own preferences, even when things do not turn out the way you expected. If you or your partner experience any health-related worries after sexual activity, do not be afraid to reach out to a healthcare provider for medical advice.
For future sexual health questions that could use a peer’s perspective, feel free to contact one of the PHAs, and we will be happy to answer your questions or help you get connected to other resources.
The Sexpert is a monthly column written in collaboration between The Prospect and the Peer Health Advisers (PHA) program. For more information, you can visit the Sexpert’s website. If you are interested in submitting a question, you can send it through this form: tinyurl.com/princetonsexpert.