Any abnormality in the menstrual cycle is likely to be cause for concern, especially if spotting or bleeding occurs when periods aren’t expected for a few weeks. Bleeding between periods has more than a few reasons, so concern shouldn’t be premature. Some causes of irregular spotting between periods are quite harmless, though others can be troublesome and serious. Common sense would suggest that seeing a doctor or gynecologist is mandatory anytime a woman has irregular spotting or bleeding. Learn about the possible causes of spotting in between periods and how you can prevent it.
Causes of Spotting in Between Periods
Spotting or bleeding should never go unattended, especially for women above forty years of age (post-menopausal women). The implications of the symptom for women of that age group can be severe and life threatening, so consulting a doctor for diagnosis is of the utmost importance. For pre-menopausal women the threat of irregular spotting might not be as severe in contrast to post-menopausal women, but still should be looked into.
1. Birth Control Pills
Spotting in between cycles is a common side effect of birth control pills, especially during the first few months. It has been suggested that following a strict timetable will improve things, i.e. taking birth control pills at the same time every day. According to The McKinley health center, spotting will most likely get better as the intake of the pill continues past the third cycle. The American Family Physician claims that while using birth control pills, spotting the entire time is a possibility. A birth control pill with a higher dosage of progesterone or estrogen is suggested by doctors if the bleeding continues after the third cycle.
2. Cervical Polyp
An overgrowth of the tissue in the cervical canal is called a cervical polyp which can protrude into the vagina. They are not cancerous, but can cause some bleeding. Cervical Polyp can be causes by pregnancy or injury to the cervix.
3. Infections and STIs
Infected reproductive organs can also lead to irregular vaginal bleeding. Bleeding and inflammation occur after an infection. Some sexually transmitted diseases can also cause infections after intercourse or douching. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs): STDs like chlamydia also cause irregular spotting. If bleeding occurs soon after sexual intercourse, seeking a doctor’s advice is suggested.
Spotting during the first few months of pregnancy is also not unheard of- in fact, it is quite common. In a healthy pregnancy, this is nothing to be worried about; though a doctor’s consultation could be the best idea, since an ectopic pregnancy can also cause spotting and it can be fatal if not treated within time.
A lack of thyroid (also known as hypothyroidism) can sometimes cause spotting or bleeding in between periods. This symptom is synonymous with women suffering from kidney or liver disorders. In most cases, the bleeding stops after the condition improves.
- Cervical cancer is a malignant form of cancer which affects the cervix. Abnormal vaginal bleeding is a common symptom of the disease.
- Uterine cancer is also a source of irregular bleeding. Normally women develop the cancer after menopause.
- Endometrial cancer can also lead to spotting in between periods, and 93% of patients affected by it are women over 50.
Spotting after going through menopause, is a sign of cancer, and notifying a doctor immediately is the best course of action.
7. Other Causes
- Hemorrhoids can also lead a woman to believe that the blood is coming from the vagina, thus it is advised to wipe from front to back to figure out the source of the blood.
- Stress. Women subjected to heavy physical and mental stress may also experience bleeding in between periods. Stress can play a part in changing the menstrual cycle by forcing periods to arrive earlier or later than usual.
- Hormonal imbalance. Spotting may also occur if estrogen and progesterone levels are out of balance- since they regulate the menstrual cycle. Hormonal imbalance is common women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or in women approaching the menopause.
- Vaginal abrasion during sex. During sexual intercourse, the skin of the vagina has a chance of being cut, which leads to bleeding.
How to Prevent Spotting in Between Periods
Just a few minor precautions can help prevent irregular spotting. These include:
- Take Birth Control Pills Correctly. It is important not to disturb the cycle of birth control pills. Taking them every day and at the same time each day can help prevent spotting.
- Practice Safe Sex. Practicing safe sex is a trait that should be taught to everyone as it limits the chances of contracting sexually transmitted diseases as well as reduce bleeding in between periods.
- Regular Pap smears can find precancerous changes of the cervix and allow for treatment.
- Lead a Healthy Lifestyle. Leading a healthy lifestyle also goes a long way in preventing bleeding in between menstrual cycles as obesity can cause abnormal behavior in the menstrual cycle.