It’s not uncommon for women to experience spotting (irregular bleeding) between periods. In fact, most women experience it at least once throughout their reproductive lifetime.
Spotting between periods is usually nothing to be concerned about, but in some cases, it can signal an underlying condition that requires treatment.
Causes of Spotting
There are several potential causes of spotting, including:
- Birth control use: Women on birth control treatments that contain hormones might see spotting (also called breakthrough bleeding) during their first three months of use
- Vaginal dryness
- Hormone imbalance
- Blood clotting disorders
- Polycystic ovary syndrome: A disease in which the ovaries don’t release eggs properly, leading to irregular periods, spotting or sometimes absent periods
- Reproductive cancers
- Infection or growth in the cervix or uterus lining
- Uterine fibroids or polyps: Non-cancerous growths in the lining or muscles of the uterus—these may be common in women who have given birth
- Certain sexually transmitted infections, such as chlamydia
- Other health conditions: Hypothyroidism, kidney, liver disease and others
- Perimenopause: During the period leading up to menopause, periods can be harder to predict and hormones may be changing in ways that can cause spotting
More rare causes of spotting between periods include extreme stress, diabetes, significant weight gain or weight loss, or insertion of an object into the vagina.
If your spotting concerns you, or if you experience it in conjunction with other symptoms like pain, fatigue, dizziness or fever, contact your doctor. Bring a record of your menstrual cycle to your appointment if possible, including beginning and end dates, flow heaviness and instances of spotting between periods.
The diagnostic process includes a physical and pelvic exam. In some cases, your doctor will use diagnostic exams like blood drawing, biopsies or an ultrasound to check for other causes of spotting.
Treatment and Prevention
There is no specific treatment for spotting, and the actions you and your doctor decide will depend in large part on the cause of your spotting. If you have serious spotting issues or prolonged bleeding, be sure not to ignore them—if the cause is an infection, cancer or another serious issue, you could be putting your health at risk by ignoring the symptoms.
Prevention of spotting may or may not be possible, depending on the underlying cause. In some cases, the following tactics might help:
- Take birth control as prescribed: Always take birth control pills exactly as directed to avoid imbalances in hormones that can lead to spotting.
- Exercise: Exercise regularly to keep your health at a good level and lower stress levels.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle: Make healthy lifestyle choices and maintain a healthy weight—being overweight can lead to spotting.
- Take ibuprofen or naproxen for pain—these can also help reduce bleeding. Aspirin, on the other hand, can increase your risk of bleeding, so avoid taking it for pain symptoms.
Your doctor can offer further recommendations for treatment and prevention of spotting.
The obstetricians/gynecologists, nurse practitioners and certified nurse midwives at Revere Health OB/GYN provide a full range of healthcare services to women throughout all stages of their lives including; puberty, child-bearing years, menopause, and beyond.
“What Am I Spotting Between Periods?” WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/women/guide/spotting-between-periods
“Vaginal Bleeding Between Periods.” HealthLine.com. https://www.healthline.com/health/vaginal-bleeding-between-periods