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

No, not always. When a woman has penetrative sex for the first time, she may bleed and feel some pain because of her hymen breaking.

The hymen is a very thin piece of skin that partially covers (and sometimes completely covers) the entrance to the vagina. It usually breaks during sexual intercourse if it hasn’t already broken before this.

The hymen can break quite easily before a woman has sex for the first time, through:

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

A woman may not know that her hymen has broken because it doesn’t always cause pain or noticeable bleeding.

If a woman's hymen breaks before she has had sex, it does not mean that she isn't a virgin.

It is therefore normal for a woman not to bleed the first time she has sex.

Bleeding during sex can also be caused by vaginal dryness, insertion of objects such as sex toys, or rough sex. Read more about this in Further information.

If you regularly get bleeding during or after sex, get advice from your GP.  

Further information:

Page last reviewed: 30/12/2013

Next review due: 29/12/2015