Under ideal circumstances, your period sticks to a reliable schedule, allowing you to prepare and plan accordingly. When spotting occurs, though, it might indicate a bigger problem than simply dealing with unwelcome stains.
Spotting between periods can occur for a number of different reasons, which is why Dr. Denise Molina Furlong and our team here at Chicago Center for Women’s Health decided to focus on spotting and irregular bleeding in this month’s blog post.
Let’s take a closer look.
Defining spotting and irregular bleeding
When we refer to irregular bleeding, we’re referring to abnormalities in your menstrual cycles, which affect up to one-quarter of women. These abnormalities or irregularities can include:
- Periods that last for more than seven days
- Periods that last less than two days
- Heavy bleeding
- Cycles outside the range of every 21-35 days
- Severe cramps
- Spotting between periods
As you can see, spotting is one of the many ways in which an irregular menstrual cycle can present itself.
Also called intermenstrual bleeding, it’s hard to qualify what spotting is other than to say that it includes any vaginal bleeding that occurs outside your period. This spotting can be light or heavy. It can occur frequently or rarely.
No matter its frequency or volume, it’s very much worth finding out why you’re experiencing between-period bleeding, as you’ll see below.
Potential causes of spotting
There are many different conditions that can lead to bleeding between periods, and some are perfectly normal or natural, such as entering perimenopause and menopause.
This transition occurs when your ovaries begin to shut down, creating a sizable drop in reproductive hormones. As a result, it’s not unusual to experience irregular and unpredictable periods in your mid-to-late 40s and early 50s.
An imbalance between your estrogen and progesterone hormones can also occur outside of menopause and lead to spotting. These imbalances might stem from thyroid issues, going on and off hormonal birth control methods, or a malfunction in your ovaries.
If you’re pregnant, pay close attention to any vaginal bleeding, as your menstrual cycles should be suspended during this time. If you notice spotting, please contact your obstetrician as soon as possible.
Outside of hormone-related issues, spotting between periods can also be the result of:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Sexually transmitted infections
- Certain cancers
- Uterine fibroids
As you can see, there are some serious conditions on this list, which is why we recommend that you come see us if you’re experiencing spotting between periods.
For expert diagnosis and treatment of your intermenstrual bleeding, please contact one of our two locations in Bedford Park or Oak Lawn, Illinois, to set up an appointment.