Causes of Vaginal Bleeding or “Spotting” Between Periods

>> Friday, October 23, 2015

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Our topic of the week, vaginal bleeding or “spotting” between periods,  is just one of those common problems that women experience at different times for many reasons. What worries most of us does not know why we are bleeding or how long it will last. And let’s face it, it's just plain messy and inconvenient to have unexpected bleeding over and over.

Two patients came in this week who has been struggling with recurrent vaginal bleeding. When a woman comes into my office for vaginal bleeding that is not part of a regular menstrual cycle, it begins a whole investigative process.

Rarely would I able to discover immediately on physical exam, or by looking into your vagina with a speculum, the reason for abnormal vaginal bleeding, because the cause of most vaginal bleeding originates way up inside where I can't see. That's why we need ultrasounds and CT scans to look deep inside your body, and blood tests to make sure all your hormones are in check. We need to be sure that the other organs in your body are functioning properly.

A woman's body is so sensitively balanced and intricately put together that simple things like diet and exercise can affect and disrupt the entire system. Especially because so many of our meats and dairy products are full of growth hormones and antibiotics they give to the livestock.

So what is considered abnormal bleeding?

• When you are not expecting your menstrual period.
• When your menstrual flow is lighter or heavier than what is normal for you.
• At a time in life when it is not expected, such as before age 10, when you are pregnant, or after menopause.
• Bleeding with pregnancy is always scary, and is something that always needs to be checked out by your doctor. Spotting to minimal bleeding may be normal in pregnancy. But, heavy vaginal bleeding or bleeding that occurs before 12 weeks may mean a serious problem like possible miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. Heavy vaginal bleeding or bleeding that occurs after 12 weeks also may mean a serious problem, such as placenta previa.

Non-pregnancy causes of bleeding:

• Ovulation can cause mid-cycle bleeding.
• PCOs (polycystic ovarian syndrome) is a hormone imbalance that interferes with normal ovulation – it can cause abnormal bleeding.
• Medicines that interfere with hormones.
• An IUD also may increase your chances of spotting or heavy bleeding.
• Infection of the vagina, cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries may cause vaginal bleeding, after intercourse or douching.
• Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are often the cause of bleeding.
• Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) causes inflammation or infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries, which can cause abnormal bleeding.
• Sexual Abuse or rough sex.
• An object in the vagina.
• Uterine fibroids which are a common cause of heavy periods
• Structural problems, such as uterine prolapse or polyps.
• Cancer of the vagina, cervix, or ovaries.

So, as you can see, there are so many different reasons for abnormal bleeding that it is important to check with your doctor to make sure your body is functioning properly.

I hope you all have a wonderful week and stay safe. :)

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