It can be a little unnerving to experience spotting or bleeding at unexpected times between your periods. There are many reasons women may spot between periods, and while some of those reasons are nothing to worry about, others are more serious.
At Kelly Morales OB/GYN, our team provides compassionate, patient-centered gynecological care to women in the San Antonio, Texas, area using the latest evidence-based medicine. Dr. Morales understands the frustration and worry that unexpected spotting can bring.
Our care team has curated this information on spotting between periods to help you understand what’s normal and what’s cause for concern.
Most women experience unexpected bleeding between periods at least once in their lives. This intermenstrual bleeding is typically lighter than a period and is commonly referred to as spotting.
If you experience spotting between periods, jot down the date on your calendar and write down any other changes you notice in your menstrual cycle. You should also make note of any other symptoms associated with the spotting.
There are many different reasons you might spot or bleed between your periods. For young women who are closer in age to puberty and older women nearing menopause, spotting is often caused by hormonal fluctuations.
Here are some of the other common causes of spotting between periods:
The most common reason women spot between periods is hormonal birth control. This is especially true when you first start any form of hormonal contraceptives as your body adjusts to the new hormones.
Some forms of hormonal contraceptives include:
If the spotting doesn’t change after three months of using the hormonal birth control, talk to Dr. Morales.
Some women spot during ovulation, most likely because of hormonal changes in progesterone levels related to ovulation. Ovulation spotting typically lasts 1-3 days in the middle of your cycle and isn’t cause for concern.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that causes enlarged ovaries with many small cysts. PCOS can cause many symptoms, including irregular periods and spotting between periods.
Conditions that affect the uterus, like endometriosis, adenomyosis, and fibroids, can cause spotting, cramping between periods, and heavy, painful periods. Other conditions that affect the cervix and vagina, such as polyps or injury, can also cause spotting.
Some women experience light spotting when the fertilized egg implants into the lining of the uterus. This spotting may be accompanied by mild uterine cramping.
When the egg and sperm implant in your fallopian tube rather than the uterus, the resulting pregnancy is called an ectopic pregnancy. In addition to vaginal spotting, ectopic pregnancies typically cause pain and other symptoms.
An ectopic pregnancy is a life-threatening emergency. If you suspect you may be pregnant and are experiencing pain and spotting, call your doctor.
Sexually transmitted infections, like chlamydia and gonorrhea, can cause bleeding between periods. Other infections, like pelvic inflammatory disease or an infection of the cervix, can also cause unexpected vaginal bleeding.
Although it’s rare, bleeding between periods can indicate certain types of cancers, such as cervical cancer and uterine cancer. Cervical cancer is most common in sexually active women between ages 30-45, while uterine cancer typically affects menopausal or postmenopausal women.
Because there are so many possible reasons for spotting between periods, it’s important to pay attention to any other symptoms you may have. Dr. Morales will be able to better diagnose the cause of your spotting and identify any underlying condition with a clear picture of all of your symptoms.
Most times, spotting between periods isn’t a cause for an emergency visit. But since intermenstrual bleeding is never normal, you should talk to Dr. Morales about any spotting at your regular visit. If you have heavy or persistent bleeding or spotting between periods, it’s important to call for medical advice sooner.
Ready to talk to us about spotting between periods? Our compassionate team at Kelly Morales OB/GYB can help. Contact our San Antonio office by calling 210-570-7277 to schedule an appointment.