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The After Sex Checklist

(For People with a Vagina)

We spend a lot of time thinking about what to do before sex to make sure we’re safe, protected, and healthy, but what about after sex? For people with female reproductive parts, there are a few things to keep in mind after sex that can protect you from infections and unwanted pregnancies. To make after-sex a no-brainer, here’s a handy list to consult. If you want to read more about sex and emergency contraception, check out our content hub.

The Checklist

First things first, pee. Bacteria can form in your urethra after sex. Peeing flushes it out and reduces your chance of getting a UTI.

Are you having symptoms?
After sex, your body might experience symptoms that you’re not used to seeing. Some are completely normal, like soreness of the vagina. But if symptoms persist or become more frequent after sex, you may need to seek medical attention. Here are some symptoms that can happen to people with a vagina after penetrative sex.


Bleeding after sex, or “postcoital bleeding,” is pretty common. It’s very likely that people will experience it at one point or another. The bleeding usually stems from the cervix and is light. If it’s heavier and combined with any of the other symptoms below, such as intense cramping or severe abdominal pain, you should talk to your doctor. Most of the time, bleeding is nothing to worry about, but if it persists, it may be due to an underlying condition.


If you’ve menstruated, you’re probably familiar with cramps. But cramping can happen after sex too. Usually, it’s no cause for alarm. Cramps can be treated with OTC medication, such as ibuprofen, or by applying heat, like a heating pad or hot water bottle. If your cramps are persistent both after sex and in your daily life, check in with your doctor.


Like bleeding after sex, spotting (light blood spots in your underwear), is also normal. Vaginal dryness might be the cause, but that symptom is more common in people who are postmenopausal. If you notice consistent spotting after sex, check in with your doctor. 


Seeing white discharge? That’s most likely the cervical mucus that cleans and lubricates the vagina and helps your body have sex. While white discharge is normal, it can also be an indication of infection. Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is an overgrowth of vaginal bacteria. Most of the time, It happens because the pH of your vagina is disrupted by sexual intercourse. If this happens, you might notice off-white or gray discharge coupled with a fishy smell, itchiness, or burning during urination. BV can go away without treatment, but since it’s an infection, it’s good to see a doctor and treat it with antibiotics.


Vaginal burning after sex usually happens because there was a lack of lubrication or increased friction. Fortunately, this symptom isn’t cause for alarm, but it’s pretty uncomfortable. Burning can also be caused by douching or a pH imbalance, a yeast infection, or BV (see above). It might also be from an STI or UTI, or an allergy to semen. Burning normally goes away on its own, but if it persists or you see discharge or smell a foul odor, schedule an appointment with your doctor.

Lower abdominal pain

Lower abdominal pain after sex can be caused by many different factors. Deep penetration and vaginal dryness are two of the most common. However, if the pain persists, it could be a sign of other issues, such as endometriosis, fibroids, an STI, or pelvic infection. If the pain isn’t going away, gets more intense, or is coupled with other symptoms like fever, talk with your doctor to see if there’s an underlying cause. 


Nausea is the last thing you want after sex, but it is a common symptom. There are a number of factors that can cause nausea, including dehydration, deep penetration by your partner, or vertigo. A UTI, inflamed pelvis, or endometriosis might also be the cause. Though it’s easy to link nausea to pregnancy, if nausea occurs right after sex, it doesn’t mean you’re pregnant. If you experience nausea after sex frequently, consult a doctor.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any medication.

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