Spotting is the term for bleeding between periods. The bleeding does not require you to wear a tampon or sanitary towel, and most women experience this at some point in their lives. Most times, spotting is harmless, but it may be a sign that something is wrong. The best thing to do when you experience bleeding during your period is to visit your gynaecologist or GP.

What is the cause of bleeding between periods?

You may experience bleeding between your periods due to any of these factors.

Birth control

When you start using hormonal birth control, it is normal to experience bleeding between your periods, resulting from changes in the uterus. If you take birth control pills and either take them late or forget to take one, you will likely experience spotting. Having an IUD fitted also increase your chances of bleeding between periods.

Stress

If you experience an intense and long period of mental and physical stress, your menstrual cycle will likely change. Your cycle may become shorter, longer more painful. This happens because stress triggers the flight or fight hormone, which increases the stress hormone in the body called cortisol. Cortisol suppresses the reproductive hormones, and this affects your ovulation, resulting in no or abnormal ovulation.

Sexually transmitted infections (STI)

One of the common reasons for spotting is STIs, especially chlamydia. Most women infected with chlamydia experience bleeding between their periods, during and after having sex (postcoital bleeding).

Gonorrhoea also causes bleeding between periods, but it usually occurs alongside vaginal discharge. If you had unprotected sex or think you have contracted an STI, ensure you visit a sexual health clinic for testing.

Other infections

A pelvic infection like uterine, cervical, ovarian, or vaginal infection may lead to bleeding between your periods. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and bacterial vaginosis may also cause spotting.

Polyps and Fibroids

Polyps and fibroids are non-cancerous cells in the uterine lining. They may be responsible for pelvic pain, lower back pain, unusual bleeding and urinary problems.

Pregnancy

Experiencing a small amount of bleeding early in a pregnancy is normal, but you still need to visit your doctor to know the cause of the bleeding. Heavy bleeding and bleeding after 12 weeks is usually a cause for concern because it may be due to miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. Ensure you seek medical attention immediately if this is the case.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

This condition usually results from hormone imbalance, and it affects ovulation. PCOS causes the ovaries not to release eggs as they should and leads to increased androgen production, which causes abnormal bleeding.

Cervical cancer

Each year, over three thousand people are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and the survival rate is over 50%. However, most cervical cancer cases are preventable, which increases the need for regular cervical screening to check for abnormal cells before they become cancerous.

Cervical cancer presents symptoms likepostcoital bleeding, discomfort and pain during sex, changes in vaginal discharge and abnormal pelvic region or lower back pain.

Perimenopause

Ageing in women leads to a reduction in the body’s oestrogen levels. The fluctuation of sex hormones leads to changes in period,which makes periods unpredictable both in duration and frequency. Periods may also become longer or shorter.

Adenomyosis

This condition causes the cells on the uterine lining to break through the uterine wall. About one in every ten women will likely experience this condition. It makes periods longer and causes pain during sexual intercourse.

Uterine cancer

Cancer of the uterus is common in women. Usually, it affects postmenopausal women, if you are over 40 years and experience spotting, ensure you visit your gynecologist to check for uterine cancer. The diagnosis requires a vaginal ultrasound.

When is the right time to visit the doctor for spotting?

Women should visit their gynecologist when then experience bleeding between their periods to rule out any severe condition. The gynecologist may recommend a pelvic scan, ultrasound scan, cervical screening or pregnancy test, depending on your age to know the cause of the bleeding and provide a suitable treatment. You should feel free to talk to your gynaecologist about issues concerning your sexual and reproductive health.

If you residing in London, ensure you book your gynaecologist appointment today at Gynaecology Clinic if you experience bleeding between your periods.

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