What Causes Intermenstrual Bleeding (spotting)?

Bleeding between periodsWhat is a (spotting)?

Abnormal vaginal bleeding between periods is also called intermenstrual bleeding, spotting, and metrorrhagia. When bleeding occurs between normal periods, there are many possible causes.

Some causes may be easy to treat, while others may indicate a serious underlying condition. If you notice spotting or heavy bleeding between periods, it’s important to see your doctor for testing, diagnosis, and treatment options. Possible causes of bleeding between periods include:

  • a growth in your uterus or cervix
  • stress
  • a change in medication
  • low
  • vaginal dryness
  • hormone imbalance
  • cancer

Causes vaginal bleeding or spotting between periods It is possible?

Bleeding between periods is not a normal part of the menstrual cycle. There can be many reasons for spotting between periods.

The average cycle takes between 21 and 35 days. Normal vaginal bleeding, also known as your period, can happen for a few weeks to a week. Other than that, any bleeding is considered abnormal and can be caused by a variety of factors. These include:

1. Hormonal imbalance

Estrogen and progesterone are two hormones that regulate your cycle. If they become unbalanced, spotting may occur. All of the following can affect hormone balance:

  • dysfunctional ovaries
  • thyroid gland problems
  • starting or stopping birth control pills

Also, some women notice it as a result of hormonal changes during ovulation.

Abnormal bleeding in the first trimester is common when starting any type of hormonal contraceptive, according to the UK National Health Service. These birth control pills include:

  • birth control pills
  • intrauterine device
  • contraceptive patch
  • contraceptive implant or injection

2. Pregnancy complications

Complications during pregnancy can cause spotting. Both a miscarriage and an ectopic pregnancy can cause bleeding. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants itself in the fallopian tube instead of the uterus.

Spotting during pregnancy may not mean you’re having a miscarriage. However, if you are pregnant and have any vaginal bleeding, you should contact your doctor immediately.

3. Uterine fibroids

Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths that form in the uterus. It is not uncommon in women who have given birth.

4. Infection

Vaginal bleeding between periods may indicate an infection of your reproductive organs. Infection can cause inflammation and bleeding. The reasons are:

  • sexually transmitted infection
  • vaginal douche
  • relationship
  • pelvic inflammatory disease characterized by inflammation of the reproductive organs causing scarring

5. Cancer

Less commonly, cancer of any of these organs can cause bleeding:

  • neck
  • vagina
  • uterus
  • ovaries

6. Rare causes

Other possible causes of vaginal bleeding are rare and include:

  • inserting an object into the vagina
  • extreme stress
  • diabetes
  • thyroid diseases
  • significant weight gain or loss

When to seek medical help

You should consult your doctor whenever you have any abnormal vaginal bleeding. The cause of the bleeding can be serious and must be determined. If you are pregnant and have vaginal bleeding, see your doctor right away.

If you have other serious symptoms in addition to bleeding, you may need to seek emergency medical attention. These include:

  • pain
  • tiredness
  • dizziness
  • fire

What to expect at a doctor’s appointment


When you see your doctor about bleeding between periods, be prepared to answer questions about your symptoms.

It would be helpful to keep track of your cycle. Pay attention to when your periods start and end, the weight and duration of your flow, when and how much you bleed between periods. Your doctor will want to know about any other symptoms you are experiencing and any medications you are taking.

Your doctor will also give you a physical exam, including a pelvic exam.

Diagnostic tests can help your doctor find the cause of the bleeding. Your doctor may draw blood to check hormone levels. You may need to culture or take tissue from the cervix or outside of the uterus for the test, called a biopsy. Your doctor may also want to do an ultrasound.


There is no specific treatment for vaginal bleeding between periods. Treatment will vary depending on what is causing the abnormal vaginal bleeding.

Consequences of ignoring vaginal bleeding between periods

In some cases, such abnormal bleeding will resolve on its own. However, for some women, the underlying cause requires treatment. Ignoring the problem and not seeing a doctor can worsen the problem. If the bleeding is caused by an infection, cancer, or other serious illness, the consequences can be life-threatening.

Preventing vaginal bleeding between periods

Depending on the cause, you may not be able to prevent bleeding between periods. However, in some cases, preventive measures can help.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle and a normal weight because being overweight can cause abnormal periods.

If you are using birth control pills, do as directed to avoid hormonal imbalance. Get moderate exercise to maintain health and reduce stress.

Take ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn) to manage pain, which can help reduce bleeding. Avoid taking aspirin (Bufferin), which can increase your risk of bleeding.


Abnormal uterine bleeding. (2017, March)

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2016, April 16) Vaginal bleeding: Causes

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2016, April 16) Vaginal bleeding: Definition

Menstruation and menstrual cycle. (2017, January 4th)

What causes bleeding between periods? (2016, March 11)

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