What causes bleeding between periods?
If there is one good thing about your period, it’s the day it’s gone. Whew! Now you’ve got a couple weeks of freedom! You go about your merry way, wearing your favorite white skirt in the summer and then…what the? Bleeding between periods?
It’s happened to the best of us, girlfriend, and we know—it’s the worst. And of course, it would fall on the day you’re wearing white or you forgot to wear your proof® period underwear.
Why Am I Bleeding In The Middle Of My Cycle?
Your first thought (after dang it!) is probably why is this happening to me? Well, there are several reasons this obnoxious flow is ruining your day. Some of them are a lot scarier than others, but keep in mind that there is no need to jump to conclusions. Bleeding between periods is not uncommon. If you’re concerned, please call your doctor. If it happens every month, then you really should see someone.
Here are a few common ones:
Ovulation—yes, ovulation can sometimes cause bleeding between periods. Good news is, if you’re hoping to get pregnant, you know just what to do. If you aren’t hoping for a baby in nine months, then keep an eye on it and talk to your doctor if you’re worried.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)—PCOS affects around five million women in the United States. What is it? It’s a hormonal disorder among women of child bearing age, causing them to have infrequent or extra long periods. Usually, this means you have fewer periods a year (say, every 35 days instead of every 28), but for some women it means bleeding at random times during your cycle.
The pill—bleeding between periods when you’re on the pill is most common right after you start or if you’ve switched to a new one. But it can happen to anyone on the pill. Guess what? This can also happen if you miss a day or two (oops!).
Other medication— there are some medications that could cause light bleeding between periods. If this happens after you’ve started taking a new medication, call your doctor or pharmacist as soon as you can.
An IUD—just like the pill, you are likely to experience random bleeding between periods as your body adjusts. Don’t panic, but if the bleeding is excessive or lasts for a few days, call your doc. Also—some women have experienced bleeding after having sex with an IUD.
Infection—this could be in any of your pelvic organs (vagina, uterus, fallopian tubes, cervix, or ovaries). If you suspect an infection, call your doctor right away—an antibiotic might be just the thing you need.
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)—this is an infection of your reproductive organs, and happens when bacteria is transmitted sexually. Some women won’t even notice symptoms until they try to get pregnant, so if you are and you start bleeding, talk to your doctor.
Urinary tract infection (UTI)—UTIs often come with bloody urine. It’s normal. Infections often cause inflammation, so when you urinate it could cause you to bleed a little bit.
Uterine fibroids—these are little growths that appear on your uterus, but don’t worry—they’re not cancerous. They can cause heavy bleeding between periods or make your periods last longer than a week. Often, they have similar symptoms to a UTI, too.
Cancer—that awful word. Yes, bleeding between your period could be caused by cancer. Don’t immediately jump to this conclusion, but if you are bleeding heavily for a long time, your doctor can order an ultrasound to check things out if you’re worried.
- Extreme emotional stress—yes! Your emotions can affect your period! If you are under an abnormal amount of stress, your body will react. While this type of bleeding is usually quite light, it can range anywhere from a few spots to a heavy flow. Make sure you take care of yourself and get some rest!
When Should I Worry About Bleeding Between Periods?
It’s perfectly natural to be worried if you are bleeding between periods. It’s unexpected, it often hurts (hello cramping and lower back pain), and there are chances it can be serious. But don’t freak out the second you see a spot on your knickers—give your body time. With that in mind, however, there are some times when bleeding between periods is something to be concerned about.
Here’s what you need to watch out for:
Heavy bleeding—we’re talking filling a pad, a tampon, or your proof® underwear in an hour.
Feeling faint or dizzy—if you feel faint along with the bleeding, get a snack (preferably one with iron and/or protein in it), sit down, put your feet up, and call your doctor.
Fever—if you’re also running a fever, check with your doctor. This likely indicates some kind of infection, and hopefully it can be taken care of with an antibiotic.
Bleeding for a long time—if it lasts a day or two, that’s not unusual. But if it’s like having a second period (4–7 days), you might want your doctor to schedule an ultrasound.
Bleeding after sex—if you start bleeding after having sex with your partner or you are sexually assaulted, let your doctor know immediately. She might want to give you a pelvic exam to make sure everything is ok.
- Postmenopausal bleeding—if you’ve already experienced menopause, and you start bleeding, contact your physician right away.
What's The Difference Between Implantation Bleeding And Your Period?
It is not uncommon for women to spot a little bit after they have become pregnant. Actually, around one in four of your girlfriends will experience some spotting after they get pregnant. For most women, this bleeding does not indicate anything is wrong with their baby or their own body. But it’s always a good idea to alert your OBGYN if you’re bleeding when you’re pregnant.
If you don’t know whether or not you’re pregnant, it could seem like a period. There are a few key differences from your period, however, so watch for these three things:
When: implantation bleeding occurs a week to two weeks after conception. It would seem like a very early period.
Color: bleeding during your period is usually bright red. Implantation bleeding is light pink or brown.
- Amount: if this is bleeding after conception, it will be just a few drops here and there, but not a heavy flow. Also—it should stop within a day or two.
How To Prevent Bleeding Between Periods
Obviously, in some cases there is no way to prevent bleeding between periods. Usually this accompanies a more serious diagnosis, but we’ll take the optimistic glass half-full of Diet Coke side of life and give you a few tips for preventing it:
Maintain a healthy lifestyle—ok, doesn’t this seem so obvious? But really—if you are maintaining an unhealthy weight, you are more likely to have abnormal periods. So, what is a healthy lifestyle? Eat whole foods, drink lots of water, exercise a few times a week, and get enough rest (at least 8 hours a night. You might have to turn off Netflix early).
Take your pills responsibly—if you are on the pill, make sure you are taking it as directed. One pro tip—take it at the same time every day. Set an alarm in your phone, take it right before bed, or right after you shower in the morning. It will help reduce any hormonal imbalance that might come from taking doses too close together or too far apart.
Exercise moderately—it’s not usually a good idea to workout like a psycho one day and then do nothing for a few weeks. Keep things consistent. It’s perfectly fine (and good!) to push yourself, but make sure you’re consistent and careful.
- Manage your stress—we know this seems easier said than done. But guess what: practicing good self-care can help reduce bleeding between periods and help make your periods less awful.
What causes spotting between periods?
Abnormal vaginal bleeding between periods is also called intermenstrual bleeding, spotting, and metrorrhagia. When bleeding occurs between normal periods, there are many possible causes.
While some causes may be easy to treat, others can indicate a serious underlying condition. Whether you notice spotting or heavier bleeding between periods, it’s important to see your doctor for testing, diagnosis, and treatment options. Potential causes of bleeding between periods include:
- a growth in your uterus or cervix
- a change in medication
- a miscarriage
- vaginal dryness
- a hormone imbalance
What does spotting look like?
Spotting gets its name from the physical appearance of the discharge. It usually comes in the form of small spots of red or brown liquid on your underwear. A big difference between spotting and period blood is that spotting is typically much lighter in volume, and often has a darker color than menstrual blood. Spotting is usually so light that you can simply switch to your period panties or wear a thin liner when you notice it.
Is spotting between periods normal?
Though it is not considered normal, most women have spotting between their periods at some point. Usually, it's nothing to worry about, but if you are concerned, you should contact your doctor.
What is the difference between spotting and a period?
The appearance of spotting discharge is very similar to the appearance of menstrual blood, so it can be easy to confuse the two. Texturally, menstrual blood tends to be thicker and heavier, while spotting is light. Spotting usually doesn’t cause any physical discomfort or pain, while your period often comes with cramps, bloating, and feeling under the weather.
Menstrual blood and spotting blood also come from different parts of the body. Menstrual blood comes out cyclically when the uterus sheds its lining. On the other hand, spotting may come from the upper or lower reproductive tract, such as the cervix or the vagina.
Why am I spotting after my period ends - what are the causes?
Spotting is common among all people who have periods and it can be caused by a number of things:
The average cycle lasts 21 to 35 days. Normal vaginal bleeding, also known as your period, can happen for a few days to a week. Any bleeding outside of this is considered abnormal and can be caused by a variety of factors. These include:
Estrogen and progesterone are the two hormones that regulate your cycle. You may have spotting if they get out of balance. The following can all affect your hormone balance:
- dysfunctional ovaries
- thyroid gland problems
- starting or stopping birth control pills
As well, some women spot during ovulation as a result of hormonal changes. When starting any type of hormonal contraceptive, abnormal bleeding is common during the first three months, according to the National Health Services of the United Kingdom. These contraceptives include:
- birth control pills
- intrauterine device
- contraceptive patch
- contraceptive implant or injection
Complications during pregnancy can cause spotting. Both a miscarriage and an ectopic pregnancy can cause bleeding. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants itself in the fallopian tube instead of the uterus. Spotting during pregnancy may not mean you’re having a miscarriage. However, if you’re pregnant and experience any vaginal bleeding, you should contact your doctor immediately.
Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths that form in the uterus. They aren’t uncommon in women who’ve given birth.
Vaginal bleeding between periods may indicate an infection of your reproductive organs. Infection can cause inflammation and bleeding. Causes include:
- sexually transmitted infection
- vaginal douching
- pelvic inflammatory disease, which is marked by inflammation of the reproductive organs that leads to scarring
Less commonly, a cancer of any of these organs can cause bleeding:
Other possible causes of vaginal bleeding are rare and include:
- insertion of an object into the vagina
- extreme stress
- thyroid disorders
- significant weight gain or loss
This list is not exhaustive, and it does not represent every person who has experienced any of these symptoms. If you’re in doubt, be sure to track your cycle so you’re aware of any changes that might happen.
How long does spotting last?
Because spotting is so irregular and can be caused by so many variables, it is difficult to identify exactly how long it lasts. Typically, though, spotting can be anything from a one-time thing to minor bleeding for up to seven days.
How can I stop spotting between and after periods?
If you take birth control pills, do so as directed to avoid a hormonal imbalance. Exercise moderately to maintain health and reduce stress. To manage pain, use ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), which can actually help reduce bleeding. If bleeding persists, contact your doctor.
How long can you spot after your period?
About 14 days after the start of your period, you ovulate and release an egg from the ovary. This spotting can last for one to two days and is typically light bleeding
Can spotting happen after a missed period?
Yes it can. It could be a sign of pregnancy, or a myriad of other unrelated reasons–– most of which are not cause for alarm.
Can spotting after a period be a sign of pregnancy?
Yes it can. Implantation bleeding is generally light and short, just a few days' worth. It usually occurs 10-14 days after conception, or around the time of your missed period. However, vaginal bleeding has been reported anytime in the first eight weeks of pregnancy. Spotting is also common before the start of a menstrual period.
I’m seeing brown discharge after my period ends - what is it, and why?
When we feel the sensation that something is being discharged from our bodies, we usually expect to see a red liquid. We may then be surprised to discover that the discharge is, in fact, brown. Brown discharge is usually nothing to be concerned about and is typically just old blood. When we notice brown liquid coming out, it’s usually just the vagina cleaning itself out in preparation for the menstrual flow to begin.
When should I see a doctor for spotting?
It’s not uncommon to panic somewhat when we notice something unusual with our bodies. In most cases, light spotting is nothing to worry about, but if you are prone to feeling anxious about your health, it’s always a good idea to see a doctor sooner rather than later.
You should see a doctor if your spotting is accompanied by:
- More noticeable abdominal pain or cramping than usual
- Irregular periods
- Heavy periods with more blood clots than you’d usually expect
- A burning sensation when you urinate
- Any unusual vaginal discharge
- If you think you may be pregnant
Your doctor will most likely want to know how long this has been happening, how regular it is, how long the spotting lasts, how heavy the spotting is and if it may have been triggered by something external such as rough intercourse.
While it may not be possible to pre-empt or prevent spotting in between periods, there are certain measures you can take in order to reduce your likelihood of spotting. By maintaining a healthy lifestyle and ensuring that you remain at a healthy weight, you can give yourself the best chance of avoiding spotting. Exercise is also essential when it comes to maintaining a good balance- not only does it help to keep your body in a healthy state, it can also help to reduce stress, which may cause a hormonal imbalance and consequent spotting.
It is completely understandable if you experience stress and anxiety after noticing anything unusual within your reproductive system. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms above, try not to assume that the worst-case scenario is about to occur. Track your menstruation and physical sensations, and if in doubt, talk to a medical professional.
Watch Out For Yourself, Girlfriend
Here at Proof®, we care about you and your health. We believe that your period is a natural thing that makes you a glorious woman! So, don’t panic about bleeding, and just do what you need to do to take care of yourself. And remember—if you ever feel concern, trust that instinct. You know yourself and your lady parts better than anyone. Call your doctor and give yourself the peace of mind that you are ok.
Keep your chin up—you got this!