Periods are notorious for being a nuisance. Many women struggle with hormonal headaches, cramps, and mood swings during their periods, but for the most part, periods should be predictable.
Anything that deviates from your normal — length of period changing, missed periods, severe pain during your period, or irregular bleeding — is worth discussing with our compassionate team.
If you’re bleeding between periods, board-certified OB/GYN Karen Allsup, FACOG, MD, and our Aurora OB/GYN team encourage you to reach out to us. Our team focuses on female wellness throughout all phases of womanhood, from menstrual issues to pregnancy to menopause.
Below, our team highlights the top reasons why you shouldn’t ever ignore bleeding between periods.
Before you can determine if your vaginal bleeding is intermenstrual bleeding — bleeding between your periods — it’s important to track your period and know what’s normal for you. A normal menstrual cycle typically lasts anywhere from 21-35 days with 3-8 days of bleeding. A “normal” period can vary from woman to woman. Even the normal flow can vary. Some women tend to have heavier flows than other women.
Tracking your period each month helps you track your upcoming period, but it can also give you valuable insights into your health, such as if you’re experiencing intermenstrual bleeding.
Bleeding between periods is undoubtedly frustrating; unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to know what’s causing the bleeding without an exam. Ignoring vaginal bleeding between periods only prolongs getting the right treatment and treating the root cause of your bleeding.
Potential causes of bleeding between periods include:
Some infections, including urinary tract infections (UTIs) and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), can contribute to vaginal bleeding and blood-tinged vaginal discharge. Infections don’t typically resolve independently, and you’ll likely need prescription medication to alleviate your symptoms.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) can cause many menstrual abnormalities, including bleeding between periods. You might also miss periods if you have PCOS due to the higher levels of androgens associated with this condition. PCOS can also cause weight gain, difficulty conceiving, sleep issues, mood changes, acne, and excessive facial hair growth.
Your thyroid is a small gland in your neck that plays a big role in many different body parts. If your thyroid hormones are unbalanced, it can contribute to an abnormal period. Your period may arrive earlier or later than expected, and you might even bleed between periods.
A thyroid test (a blood panel) can quickly confirm or rule out thyroid disorders as the culprit of your intermenstrual bleeding.
Uterine fibroids — noncancerous uterine growths that can be as small as a pea or as large as a grapefruit — often cause period troubles. You might suspect a fibroid causes your abnormal bleeding if you also notice heavy menstrual bleeding and pelvic pain.
Ignoring bleeding caused by fibroids is futile because they can continue to grow and won’t resolve on their own. Removal of fibroids can eliminate your symptoms.
Like fibroids, ovarian cysts can cause contribute to abnormal periods. While fibroids grow in the uterus, ovarian cysts form on your ovaries. These fluid-filled sacs don’t always cause symptoms, but if they grow large enough, they can cause abnormal bleeding, bloating, and pain in the lower abdomen.
In many cases, irregular bleeding is related to non-life-threatening conditions, but in rare cases, bleeding can be a sign of endometrial cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, about 90% of women with endometrial cancer report abnormal bleeding. This is perhaps one of the most important reasons to never ignore abnormal bleeding.
If you notice a one-time deviation from your normal period, chances are that your irregular bleeding was a short-lived inconvenience. Stress, medication side effects, and weaning your baby after breastfeeding can all affect your period.
However, if you notice irregularities for two (or more) consecutive cycles let us know. When you arrive for your appointment, Dr. Allsup performs a comprehensive examination, discusses your symptoms, and reviews any labs or ultrasounds, if needed. Depending on the cause of your bleeding, Dr. Allsup shapes a treatment plan to help improve your menstrual cycle and treat the source of the problem.
Call our team at our San Antonio, Texas, to schedule a visit or use our online form to request an appointment. While you wait for your upcoming appointment, try not to worry. Remember, most causes of intermenstrual bleeding are both identifiable and treatable.