Most women experience a period every 28 days, although the acceptable range is 21-35 days. If you notice spotting outside your normal menstrual flow, it can be unsettling. While it's not uncommon, it's essential to understand that spotting may be indicative of underlying medical issues that warrant attention.
Our team at OBGYN Westside, PLLC, encourages you to visit us here on the Upper West Side of New York City if you have any concerns about your menstrual cycle. Identifying the cause of your abnormal bleeding is the first step in regulating your cycle.
In the meantime, continue reading to learn about six medical causes of spotting between periods.
1. Hormonal imbalances
Fluctuations in hormone levels, such as those associated with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or thyroid disorders, can lead to irregular bleeding. Irregular bleeding can include both missed periods as well as bleeding between periods.
Imbalances in estrogen and progesterone levels during perimenopause may result in spotting between menstrual cycles.
Hormonal imbalances related to birth control can also cause spotting. Spotting may be a side effect of certain medications or contraceptives, especially when you’re starting a new birth control method. This is called breakthrough bleeding, and it’s more common with extended-cycle regimens.
The bottom line: Changes in your hormone levels (either due to a medical condition or side effects of medication) can impact your menstrual cycle and lead to intermittent bleeding.
2. Uterine fibroids
Uterine fibroids 一 noncancerous growths that form in or on your uterus 一 can cause abnormal bleeding, including spotting between periods, heavy periods, and long periods.
Depending on the size and location of your fibroids, you may also experience backaches, bloating, constipation, and pelvic pain.
3. Sexually Transmitted Infections
Spotting can be the result of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like chlamydia or gonorrhea. In fact, spotting may be the first symptom that you notice. Early diagnosis of STIs is important to reduce the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which an infection that affects your upper reproductive organs, such as your uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries.
Spotting can happen between periods or after sexual intercourse.
Endometriosis can also cause spotting between your periods. When you have endometriosis, tissue similar to your uterine lining grows outside of your uterus. You might suspect you have endometriosis if you also struggle with infertility, fatigue, pain with bowel movements, and heavy periods.
Although you might not associate pregnancy with spotting, implantation spotting could explain your abnormal bleeding if you’re trying to conceive. Implantation spotting may occur during the early stages of pregnancy, right around the time your period is due.
This light spotting can happen when the fertilized egg attaches to your uterine lining. It’s often light, usually pinkish, and lasts only a day or two.
6. Gynecologic cancer
Most cases of spotting aren’t related to cancer, but spotting can be a sign of gynecologic cancers, such as cervical cancer, uterine cancer, or ovarian cancer.
Reminder: Your routine exam and Pap smear can help catch the warning signs of cancer, such as cervical cancer.
What to do if you have spotting between periods
Any abnormal bleeding can be nerve-wracking, but don’t brush it off. Because spotting between periods can be caused by many different conditions, and all of those conditions require different treatments, it’s important to talk to your OBGYN Westside provider.
When you arrive for your appointment, you can expect a pelvic exam, a review of your symptoms, and any necessary testing to confirm the source of your spotting.
Blood work, an STD test, a biopsy, or imaging studies such as ultrasounds may be needed to confirm the source of your bleeding. Once the source is confirmed, potential treatments include medication, hormone therapy, antibiotics, or in the case of fibroids, surgery.
Help for abnormal bleeding is just a call or click away. Schedule your exam today and get the answers you need. Give us a call or book your appointment online.