What’s Causing Unusual Spotting And Bleeding?
Spotting refers to light vaginal bleeding when you don’t have your period. This is also called intermenstrual bleeding, wherein spotting or bleeding between your normal periods.
A lot of women experience intermenstrual bleeding. It shouldn’t be a cause of concern in most cases, but sometimes it’s a sign of an underlying condition.
Have you experienced intermenstrual bleeding? Read on to learn what are the possible causes.
Causes of intermenstrual bleeding
There are a lot of possible causes of intermenstrual bleeding. Take note of the days when you experience the bleeding, and the other symptoms you are feeling if there are any. Your doctor may help you find out what’s causing it and give you advice for the treatment.
The menstrual cycle is regulated by two hormones: estrogen and progesterone. You may experience spotting when their levels get out of balance. Some things that can affect your hormonal balance are:
- Dysfunctional ovaries
- Thyroid gland problems
- Starting or stopping oral contraceptive pills (but this will balance out later on)
Uterine Fibroids are noncancerous and grow in the uterus. They’re usually benign and shrink on their own. Aside from intermenstrual bleeding, other symptoms of fibroids may include:
- Heavy or longer periods
- Pelvic pain
- Lower back pain
- Painful sex
- Urinary problems
Some women may not experience any symptoms at all.
Sexually transmitted infections
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as chlamydia and gonorrhea may cause intermenstrual bleeding or bleeding after sex. Other symptoms of STI are:
- Pain when urinating
- White, yellow, or green vaginal discharge
- Itching of the vagina or anus
- Pelvic pain
STIs can be easily treated and will not cause serious complications, as long as they are completely and properly cured early. Contact your doctor immediately if you think you have an STI.
Pelvic inflammatory disease
You can develop pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) if the bacteria from the vagina spread to the uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries. The inflammation of the reproductive organ leads to scarring. Other symptoms of PID aside from intermenstrual bleeding are:
- Pain during sex or urination
- Pain in the lower or upper abdomen
- Increased or foul vaginal discharge
Contact your doctor immediately if you experience any symptoms of PID. It can be successfully treated and be prevented from developing complications if diagnosed early.
In rare cases, cancer can cause intermenstrual bleeding. These may include:
- Endometrial or uterine cancer
- Cervical cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Vaginal cancer
A lot of women experience spotting or bleeding during their first trimester. The bleeding may be light and colored pink, red, or brown.
Complications such as a miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy may also cause bleeding during pregnancy.
If you suddenly have bleeding, it doesn’t immediately mean you’re experiencing a complication during your pregnancy. It’s still best to contact your doctor immediately if you’re experiencing bleeding, especially if it’s heavy and accompanied by pelvic pain.
It’s common to experience intermenstrual bleeding during the first three months of using contraceptives such as pills, IUDs, implants, and injectables. The intermenstrual bleeding will be gone when the body has adjusted to the contraceptive.
If the bleeding is heavy and lasts for more than three months, it’s best to consult a doctor about this. They may suggest another contraceptive method for you.
Intermenstrual bleeding may also happen if you don’t take your contraceptives as instructed. An example would be missing your pills.
Some women may experience ovulation spotting in between their periods. The bleeding happens during ovulation, when the ovary releases an egg cell. Read more about ovulation spotting here.
One of the early signs of pregnancy is implantation bleeding, but not all women will experience it. It occurs when the fertilized egg cell attaches to the uterine lining.
Implantation bleeding often happens a few days before your next expected period. The flow is much lighter and shorter than your typical period.
Perimenopause is the transition to menopause. Hormones are already unstable at this stage. Your periods become irregular, you may experience unusual spotting, and there may be months when you don’t get your period.
Intermenstrual bleeding may result from trauma in the vagina or cervix. This can be due to:
- Sexual assault
- Rough sex
- An object, such as a tampon or sex toy
- A procedure, such as a pelvic exam
Uterine or cervical polyps
Polyps are abnormal tissue growths. They can be found in the uterus or cervix. Polyps are noncancerous in most cases.
Cervical polyps don’t usually show symptoms, but they may cause:
- Light bleeding after sex
- Light bleeding between periods
- Unusual vaginal discharge
Generally, no treatment is needed except when they’re causing bothersome symptoms. If the doctor recommends removing the polyps, it’s generally easy and painless.
Uterine polyps are more common in women who have finished menopause. Some may experience light bleeding, while some may not have any symptoms.
Endometriosis is a condition where the uterine lining grows in places where they shouldn’t be. Other symptoms of endometriosis are:
- Pelvic pain and cramping
- Painful periods
- Heavy periods
- Pain during sex
- Trouble getting pregnant
- Painful urination and bowel movements
- Diarrhea, constipation, bloating, or nausea
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS is a condition wherein the ovaries or adrenal glands too much “male” hormones. For some women with PCOS, they don’t have periods at all or have very few periods in a year.
Besides intermenstrual bleeding, other possible symptoms of PCOS are:
- Irregular periods
- Pelvic pain
- Weight gain
- Excessive hair growth in unwanted areas
Stress can affect your body in many ways, including your menstrual cycle. Some women may experience intermenstrual bleeding because of high levels of physical or emotional stress.
Some medications such as blood thinners, thyroid medications, and hormonal drugs can cause intermenstrual bleeding.
In rare cases, diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, and significant weight gain or loss may also cause intermenstrual bleeding.
What to do
If you think your spotting is a sign of pregnancy, take a pregnancy test to find out. But if you already know that you’re pregnant and you’ve experienced intermenstrual bleeding, let your doctor know immediately.
Consult a doctor if you are experiencing intermenstrual bleeding. What’s causing it may be a condition that needs medical attention immediately. It will also help your doctor diagnose you if you take note of the days you experience the intermenstrual bleeding, and what other symptoms you are experiencing.
Other symptoms you should also watch out for are:
- Easy bruising
Women who have already been through menopause and are experiencing bleeding should seek medical attention immediately.
If your intermenstrual bleeding began ever since you took your first contraceptive method, give it three to six months for the bleeding to settle. Talk to your doctor if the intermenstrual bleeding persists or gets worse.
Treatment and prevention
There are no home remedies for intermenstrual bleeding. The right treatment for you depends on what’s causing it, which is why it’s important to get checked by your doctor.
If you’re using contraceptives, use them correctly as to how you are instructed. Also, try to lessen your stress levels by giving yourself time to relax and unwind. Having a healthy lifestyle also keeps your body functioning well. Engage in moderate physical activity regularly, and eat a balanced diet.
There are a lot of possible causes of intermenstrual bleeding. Some require immediate medical attention and treatment, while some are not harmful at all. Any intermenstrual bleeding should be consulted immediately. The only way to find out what’s causing it is by going to your doctor.