What is Intermenstrual bleeding?
Abnormal vaginal bleeding or spotting between periods is caused by a variety of reasons. Also known as intermenstrual bleeding, it is defined as any brown spotting or bleeding that you have when you are not on your period.
What is an abnormal vaginal Bleeding?
Normally a menstrual cycle is 28 days long. The first day of your period is the first day of your cycle. And It usually last for about 3-5 days.
Vaginal Bleeding is considered abnormal if:
- You see blood when you are not on your period
- Your menstruation becomes suddenly lighter of heavier than normal
- You have a blood flow at menopause, when pregnant or before the age of 9.
"So what does it mean when you are bleeding but you are not on your menses".
Some of the possible causes are treatable while others may mean you have a serious medical condition.
What Causes Bleeding Between Periods?
1. Hormonal Imbalance
There are two main hormones in charge of the menstrual cycle. They are known as estrogen and progesterone.
A disruption or fluctuation can happen in any of the hormones. For example when there is too much, or when their is too little of one of the hormones.
Imbalances of hormones can be caused by so many factors such as puberty, stress, lack of enough sleep, unhealthy eating habits, perimenopause.
2. Birth Control Pills
One of the common side effects of using a birth control pill is spotting between cycles or breakthrough bleeding.
In the first 3 months of using hormonal contraceptives, irregular bleeding is expected.
See your doctor, If you continue to have abnormal spots, after 3 months of using an hormonal contraceptive.
It is also possible to spot in between periods when on birth controls if you:
- Miss or forget any of your combined pills
- Miss or forget to take any of the progesterone pills
- Forget to use your pill.
- Have diarrhoea when on the pill
3. Implantation bleeding or spotting
If you are trying to conceive and you see light spots of blood that is lighter than your normal period. Around 3-7 days before your menses, then you may be experiencing implantation.
Implantation spotting or bleeding are light pinkish or brownish discharge or blood that usually occurs before your period is due if you are pregnant. Brown spotting instead of period is an early sign of pregnancy.
4. ovulation spotting
At mid-cycle when ovulation occurs, some women have light stains of blood on their panties. Although not very common, but it is usually a sign that a woman is very fertile and ovulation has taken place.
Ovulation occurs when an egg is released from a matured follicle. The process can sometimes cause cramping and little spots of blood.
5. Uterine Fibroid
Fibroids are the most common tumours found in the uterus of a woman. They are muscular mass of tumors that grows in the walls of the uterus.
About 20% to 50% of women in their child bearing age has uterine fibroids.
The symptoms of uterine fibroids are: prolonged or heavy mensuration, Abnormal vaginal bleeding in between period, pelvic pain, lower back ache, need to pee often, painful intercourse.
Cancer is one of the most risky causes of vaginal spotting when not on period.
Cancer of the cervix, womb, ovaries or vagina can cause irregular spottings.
It is recommended for women in childbearing age to have cervical screening regularly to detect any abnormality in the cervix or vagina.
The symptoms of cancer in the female reproductive organs are: bleeding between menstrual period, pain when urinating, lower abdominal pain.
A miscarriage just like ectopic pregnancy can cause drops of blood flow from her vaginal at abnormal times.
When a pregnancy is lost before it reaches the 24th week it is known as a miscarriage.
The main symptoms of miscarriage are : bleeding from the vagina, lower abdominal pain or cramps.
Seek your doctor immediately if you have any form of bleeding or bloody discharge when pregnant.
8. Ectopic Pregnancy
Ectopic pregnancy, also known as tubal pregnancy is an emergency reason for bleeding without menstruation.
Ectopic pregnancy happens when a fertilised egg implants itself to the fallopian tube instead of uterus(womb).
The main symptom of ectopic pregnancy is vaginal bleeding. These symptoms mostly happen between the week 4 and week 12 of pregnancy.
Other symptoms are: stomach pain, tip of shoulder pain, difficult urinating or passing poo and diarrhoea.
9. Sexually Transmitted Infection (STD)
Bleeding outside of periods can be caused by sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea.
When not treated gonorrhoea can lead to infertility and H`IV. Chlamydia can also lead to pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility.
Symptoms of STD are: abnormal vaginal discharge, pain when urinating or during sex, stomach and back pain, itchy and smelly discharge from vagina.
If you notice a bloody discharge that is smelly or itchy, see the doctor immediately.
10. Morning After Pill
The use of contraception such as morning after pill can cause light brown spots. This is due to the hormones in the contraception (progestin and estrogen).
11. Vaginal Dryness
Vagina dryness is a common phenomena for women, in particularly women approaching or in menopause.
The symptoms are vagina irritation or itchiness, low sex drive, pain while having sexual intercourse, frequent urination, urinary tract infection.
12. intrauterine device (IUD)
It is common for women to spot from the use of an IUD.
An IUD is a T-shaped device that is inserted into the uterus through the vagina and cervix to prevent pregnancy.
There are 2 main types of IUD: Hormonal and Copper IUD.
IUD's work by killing off the sperm before it reaches the egg.
The side-effects of an IUD are: uterine cramping, low back ache for a few weeks after insertion and bleeding.
If you are concerned about the abnormal spotting or bleeding you are experiencing, see your GP or health care provider immediately.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and about your menstrual cycle in general. Including questions on how heavy or light your period is and how long it normally last for.
Depending on what your symptoms are, your doctor may carry out:
- A pregnancy test
- A cervical screening test
- An ultrasound scan of the pelvic region
- STi Tests and pelvic examination
- Blood Test to check hormone levels
There is no one size fit all treatment for vaginal bleeding. The doctor would prescribe a treatment based on the cause.
Some of the causes go away on their own but failing to see the doctor immediately may make the situation worse and can be life threatening.
Causes of bleeding that needs immediate attention are:
- Uterine Polyps
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
- Ectopic Pregnancy
- Malignant Cancer
1. Keep Hormones in check
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and keep your hormones in balance and help prevent it. Although in most cases heavy or light bleeding when not on your period is beyond your control
2. Routine Cervical Screening
Most abnormalities in the female reproductive organs are often picked up during routine pelvic examinations.
The more you visit the doctors for a routine check-up, the faster and easier would it be to detect and form of infections or diseases.
3. Exercise frequently
Exercise frequently to reduce weight and also to reduce stress.
Excessive weight gain and high stress level contribute to hormonal imbalance in women.
4. Pain reliever
Take ibuprofen or other non-steriod anti inflammatory painkillers if you have pain or cramps in your lower abdomen. Aspiring may cause you to bleed even more so avoid it.
Vaginal spotting in between periods can be caused by lots of reasons. Some are nothing to worry about while some require immediately attention than can be life-threatening.
IS BLEEDING ONE WEEK AFTER PERIOD NORMAL?
Bleeding a week after period has ended can both both be confusing and frustrating.
It could be caused by old blood, an infection, rough sex, irregular cycles, uterine fibroids or polyps.
See a doctor if you are bleeding and cramping.