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Does a woman always bleed when she has sex for the first time?

Medical reviewer: Dr Adiele Hoffman
Last reviewed: 01/03/2021
Medically reviewed

All of Healthily's articles undergo medical safety checks to verify that the information is medically safe. View more details in our safety page, or read our editorial policy.

You might have heard that everyone with a vagina bleeds the first time they have sex, and wondered if this is true. Well, the answer is no – not everyone bleeds the first time they have sex.

Some people bleed when they have sex for the first time, but others don’t. Both are perfectly normal.

Read on to find out why some people bleed the first time they have sex, what the hymen is, what can make the hymen break and if you can tell if your hymen is still there.

Why do some people bleed the first time they have sex?

You may bleed when you have penetrative sex for the first time because of your hymen breaking.

What is a hymen?

The hymen is a thin piece of skin that partially covers the entrance to the vagina. It usually breaks during sex, if it hasn't already broken before, which makes it bleed.

If your hymen has already broken, you may not bleed when you have sex for the first time.

What can make the hymen break?

Other things, besides having sex for the first time, can make your hymen break, including:

  • activities such as horse riding and other sports
  • using tampons

So, if someone has a broken hymen, it doesn’t always mean they’ve had sex before.

You may not know your hymen has broken, because it doesn’t always hurt or bleed.

Does it hurt when your hymen breaks?

When you have vaginal sex for the first time, it may feel a bit uncomfortable, but it shouldn’t be painful.

There are things that can help make having sex for the first time less uncomfortable, including:

  • enjoying foreplay – such as kissing and touching – first
  • making sure your vagina is well-lubricated – you can try using a lubricant
  • being gentle and going slowly

Read more about how having sex for the first time may feel here.

When to worry about bleeding and sex

If it’s not your first time having sex and you bleed, you should talk to a doctor. This is because bleeding during or after sex can be a sign of a health condition that needs treatment.

You can read more about bleeding when you have sex here.

Quick Quiz
Tampons can break the hymen. True or false?
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We include references at the end of every article, so you know where we get our facts. We only ever take evidence from medically-recognised sources, approved by the UK National Health Service's The Information Standard, or certified by Health On the Net (HON). When we talk about popular health trends or claims, we'll always tell you if there's very little or no evidence to back them up. Our medical team also checks our sources, making sure they're appropriate and that we've interpreted the science correctly.

Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health.

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