Your monthly period can cause discomfort and downright inconvenience, but there are some changes to your monthly flow that you shouldn’t ignore. Bleeding between periods is one of them. Doctors call it intermenstrual bleeding and if you notice it happening, it’s a good idea to discuss it with your healthcare provider.
OB/GYN Kiran Patel, MD, and board-certified family medicine physician Leela Patel, MD and our team women’s health specialists are dedicated to keeping you as healthy as possible throughout all phases of life. Knowing how to spot the signs of potential trouble plays a key role in catching issues before they strike or at their earliest stages when they’re easier to treat.
What is a normal period?
There’s a wide range in what’s considered normal in regard to a woman’s menstrual cycle. For example, cycle length can vary from 21 to 35 days. Symptoms, such as cramps and fatigue, may fit into the normal experience for some women, while other women are fortunate enough to float through their cycle without noticeable symptoms. The heaviness of flow varies too. Some women experience a light flow, while for other women a heavier flow is the norm.
When it comes to thinking about what’s normal, the question is what’s normal for you? The norm for each woman exists on a wide spectrum. Tracking your menstrual cycle each month is an excellent way to determine what’s normal for you.
That said, there are some things that are out of the ordinary, such as bleeding between periods, and this is something you shouldn’t ignore.
What causes bleeding between periods?
Scheduling a visit with an OB/GYN is the best way to find out the cause of your intermenstrual bleeding. Contact your provider for a thorough evaluation if you notice bleeding between periods.
Sometimes bleeding between periods has an innocent cause, such as certain medications, and changes in lifestyle. In these situations, intermenstrual bleeding is often short-lived and usually isn’t a cause for concern. However, there are times when bleeding between periods signals a problem.
There are various causes for bleeding between periods.
Both too little and too much thyroid hormone can cause period irregularities. You may notice your period arrive earlier or later than usual, or you might notice some bleeding between your periods. A blood test to check your thyroid levels helps to figure out the problem.
Fibroids are noncancerous growths in the uterus. Some women are prone to developing them. They range in size from as small as a pea to as large as a basketball. Fibroids are more common as you age and often occur between the ages of 30 and 45. These growths can throw off your menstrual cycle causing heavy menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain, and bleeding between periods. A blood test to check for blood loss and an ultrasound help provide confirmation.
Fluid-filled sacs can sometimes grow on the ovaries. Typically, they cause no symptoms. If they grow large enough, they can cause problems, mostly bloating and pain or heaviness in the lower abdomen. Bleeding between periods is another possible symptom.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome
Reproductive conditions, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), commonly cause menstrual irregularities, including bleeding between periods. In PCOS levels of hormones called androgens are elevated. Apart from intermenstrual bleeding, PCOS may cause:
- Weight gained
- Missed periods
- Trouble getting pregnant
- Sleep problems
- Excessive facial hair growth
- Mood changes
A PCOS diagnosis requires careful evaluation to rule out other potential causes.
In rare cases, irregular bleeding is a sign of gynecological cancer. In fact, 90% of women with endometrial cancer have abnormal vaginal bleeding. In most cases, the cause of bleeding between periods is not cancer, but it’s important not to ignore irregular bleeding.
What to do if you notice irregular bleeding
Tell your provider if you notice irregularities in your period for two or three cycles in a row. Whether you’re bleeding much heavier than normal, skipped a period, or notice bleeding between periods, alerting your provider as soon as possible means getting to the bottom of things promptly to avoid complications and get treatment if necessary.
In this article our experts discuss just a few of the causes of bleeding between periods. Scheduling a visit with an OB/GYN is the best way to find out the cause of your menstrual irregularities.
Call our team at our South Charleston, West Virginia office to schedule a visit or send your request online today. In the meantime, try not to worry. Most causes of menstrual bleeding are identifiable and treatable.