Although it’s relatively common and usually temporary, bleeding between periods is often frustrating, sometimes embarrassing, and it could be due to a serious condition that warrants specialty care.
The specialists at Daniel Esteves, MD, provide OB/GYN services to women in and around Lawrenceville, Georgia. The team’s commitment to women’s health includes education that helps you make informed decisions about your care.
Check out these five common reasons for bleeding between periods and the treatments that can help.
1. Hormone imbalance
Bleeding between periods is often related to imbalances in estrogen and progesterone, the two hormones that regulate your menstrual cycle. Conditions that can affect hormones and lead to breakthrough bleeding include:
- Thyroid gland disorders
- Hormonal contraceptives
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
Hormonal contraceptives include birth control pills, intrauterine devices (IUDs), and birth control implants or injections. If breakthrough bleeding continues longer than three months after starting a new method of contraceptive, talk to Dr. Esteves about changing your birth control.
You may also notice bleeding between periods if you miss a birth control pill or fail to take them as directed.
Note that declines in estrogen related to menopause can also cause vaginal dryness and atrophy that may trigger vaginal bleeding following intercourse. This type of bleeding is usually bright red and spotty compared to a menstrual flow.
Endometriosis is a chronic condition in which the endometrial tissue that usually lines your uterus also grows in other locations in your pelvic region. Symptoms of endometriosis include painful and heavy periods, infertility, and spotting or bleeding between periods.
Treatment for endometriosis includes hormone therapy and medication for pain relief. For severe symptoms, our team may recommend minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery to remove the misplaced endometrial tissue.
3. Uterine fibroids
Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths that can cause heavy menstrual flow and significant breakthrough bleeding between periods. Fibroids can range in size from small seed-size tumors to large masses that distort the size and shape of the uterus.
Symptoms are often controllable with hormones that regulate your menstrual cycle. However, not all fibroids are symptomatic, and the growths tend to shrink once you enter menopause.
4. Pregnancy complications
Miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, and other pregnancy complications can cause unexpected bleeding, which can occur before you even realize you’re pregnant. Some women also experience spotty vaginal bleeding when the embryo implants in the uterine wall early in pregnancy.
5. Cervical or uterine cancer
Although less likely, bleeding between periods may be a warning sign of cervical or uterine cancer. Cervical cancer can affect any age group but is most common in sexually active women between 30 and 45. Bleeding related to cervical cancer frequently occurs after sexual intercourse, which may be painful.
Uterine cancer is most common in women over 50 and typically occurs after menopause. Be sure to see one of our providers if you have vaginal bleeding after menopause. It could signify vaginal atrophy or dryness related to declining estrogen levels, but cancer is possible and should be ruled out.
Don’t ignore bleeding between periods. Instead, schedule a visit with the caring OB/GYN team at Daniel Esteves, MD, today by calling the office or requesting an appointment online.