While not all the reasons are life-threatening, they may require some extra attention regardless, since they can have multiple effects.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on February 28, 2020, and has since been updated.
Menstruation is a normal part of a woman's life and whether we may like it or not, it comes knocking every month for a large part of our lives. Whether you have a heavy or light flow, bleeding is a part and parcel of the process. However, if you experience spotting between your periods there could be multiple reasons other than menstruation for it. Some of those reasons can be a cause for concern and need to be checked out by a doctor.
When you get abnormal vaginal bleeding, it can be related to your reproductive system or medical problems, or certain medications, as per MayoClinic. If you experience vaginal bleeding especially after menopause, it can be because of something serious.
Here are some things that can cause vaginal bleeding out of turn and should get checked by your doctor without delay:
These are noncancerous growths in the uterus. More often than not, they occur in women who’ve given birth. These are not connected to an increased risk of uterine cancer. They can vary in size and mass. Fibroids can form in differing sizes: a seedling to a bulky mass that enlarges the uterus and distorts it. There could be one or multiple fibroids and in rare and extreme cases, it becomes a size so big that the uterus reaches the rib, according to MayoClinic. This generally has no symptoms but spotting between periods can be due to fibroids.
If you have this condition, then your reproductive system isn't working the way it should. The ovaries don't release eggs like they should and instead become enlarged with fluid-filled sacs. These sacs surround your eggs. As a result of this condition, the female body starts making more male hormones (called "androgens") than necessary. This effects our periods and causes irregular periods, spotting, and sometimes no period at all, according to WebMD.
This is the phase of menopause when the female body is in transition. It is the beginning of the end of our reproductive years and since the body is in upheaval during this time, the menstrual cycle might be unusual, as per MayoClinic. The cycles could increase or decrease in length. You could also have cycles where no eggs were released, and you could also experience spotting between periods.
While this is less common, cancers of the cervix, vagina, uterus, and ovaries, can cause abnormal vaginal bleeding. In most cases of cervical cancer, Human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection, is the reason for it. It could cause vaginal bleeding after intercourse, between periods or after menopause. The vaginal discharge can look watery and bloody accompanied by a foul odor, as per MayoClinic. If it's ovarian cancer, the bleeding will be accompanied by swelling and bloating, says MayoClinic. While vaginal cancer is rare, it can also cause unusual bleeding after intercourse or after menopause. It would also be accompanied by pain in the pelvic area and a lump in the vagina, as per MayoClinic.
While spotting during pregnancy doesn't mean miscarriage necessarily, but there are some complications during pregnancy that can lead to bleeding. And, if you experience any bleeding you should contact your doctor immediately. Miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy can lead to vaginal bleeding. In an ectopic pregnancy, the fertilized egg implants itself in the fallopian tube rather than in the uterus, according to Healthline.