Most women have menstrual periods every month from their teenage years until menopause. The average period lasts two to seven days, and one menstrual cycle lasts anywhere from 21-35 days.
It’s normal for your menstrual cycle to vary, but did you know that your period says a lot about your reproductive health? If you have vaginal bleeding between periods, you shouldn’t ignore it.
Caring for your reproductive health is important, whether you’re trying to get pregnant or not. A. Michael Coppa, MD, and our team specialize in gynecologic care for women of all ages.
If you’ve noticed unusual vaginal bleeding between periods, it’s time to learn more about a few of the conditions that might be causing it.
About 20% of women experience spotting in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Spotting is very light bleeding — just a few drops in your underwear or when you wipe, and it’s not enough that you need a tampon or pad.
Implantation bleeding may happen when the fertilized egg implants in the lining of your uterus, and it can cause a few days of light spotting before you even know you’re pregnant. Cervical polyps are common and noncancerous, and they may be more likely to bleed during pregnancy.
Noticing vaginal bleeding when you’re pregnant can be scary. Spotting or light bleeding is very common in early pregnancy, but you shouldn’t ignore it. Contact us if you notice bleeding during pregnancy.
Endometriosis is a gynecologic condition in which the tissue lining your uterus (endometrium) grows elsewhere in your pelvic area. This tissue thickens and sheds just as the tissue in your uterus does, but it gets trapped in your body and causes inflammation.
Some of the most common symptoms of endometriosis include pelvic pain, severe menstrual periods, and vaginal bleeding between periods. It affects more than 11% of women during their reproductive years.
Light bleeding during pregnancy may not be a cause for concern, but heavier vaginal bleeding could indicate a serious complication. Miscarriage is pregnancy loss that occurs before 20 weeks, and up to 20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage.
Bleeding due to miscarriage may start light and get heavier over a few hours or days. Miscarriage may also cause abdominal cramps and lower back pain. Along with miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy is another pregnancy complication that can cause abnormal vaginal bleeding.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
Polycystic ovary syndrome affects about 10% of women. If you have PCOS, hormonal imbalance makes your menstrual cycle irregular and causes small sacs called cysts to form on your ovaries.
Women with PCOS might have nonexistent light or unusually heavy periods, and symptoms may vary from month to month. It’s common to experience spotting and vaginal bleeding between periods, in large part because they’re irregular.
Uterine fibroids are tumors that grow in the wall of your uterus. They’re almost always noncancerous, and up to 80% of women get at least one fibroid by the time they’re 50 years old.
Fibroids range in size and don’t always cause symptoms. If you do have symptoms, the most common are heavy periods, vaginal bleeding between periods, and pelvic pain.
Vaginal bleeding doesn’t always mean you have an underlying health condition. Every woman’s menstrual cycle is different, but you should never ignore bleeding or spotting between periods.
If you notice vaginal bleeding between your periods, make an appointment with Dr. Coppa. We specialize in comprehensive gynecologic exams to identify the cause of your bleeding, so we can find a treatment plan to improve your health.
Contact us to schedule an appointment. Our offices are located in Cranston, Providence, and Smithfield, Rhode Island.