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Dr Tariq Miskry, Consultant Gynaecologist & Obstetrician
Bleeding between periods can be confusing, to say the least. But breathe deep. It’s usually no big deal – especially once you learn how to deal with it.
Knowing why it happens and the causes of bleeding between periods can minimize the panic of seeing unexpected blood in your undies. So, here’s the what’s what with bleeding between periods, and how to be prepared for it.
Bleeding vs Spotting
Bleeding between periods is sometimes known as spotting. Spotting is pink or brown blood that shows up on the toilet tissue after wiping or on your knickers. Think enough pink or brown blood to leave a stain on light-coloured underpants, but not enough for a pad or tampon.
The causes of spotting between periods are typically hormonal. Most of the time it’s nothing to worry about.
However, it’s important to differentiate between spotting and bleeding. If you are bleeding enough to soak through a pair of knickers and it’s not time for your period, it’s time to consult a doctor. This could indicate a significant health concern that requires treatment.
What’s important with spotting is to notice what is normal for you. If you don’t normally bleed between periods, but suddenly have started noticing pink or brown spotting before your period, it might be worth bringing up with your doctor.
What causes spotting between periods?
What causes spotting between periods? There are a number of reasons for spotting between periods. Most of them are due to off-kilter hormones.
What would throw your hormones off, you may be wondering? We’ve compiled a list for you here of likely culprits.
You’re about to get your period
Light spotting just before you get your period is completely normal. Once a month, your hormones drop, letting your body know that it’s not pregnant and signalling your uterine lining that it’s time to vacate the premises, i.e. your uterus.
Sometimes the uterine lining doesn’t break down uniformly, and some of it starts sloughing off a little ahead of schedule. This can cause spotting between periods or right before you get your period.
You’ve just started menstruating
Many girls tend to spot if they’ve just gotten their periods for the first time. If your body is new to menstruation, it may not have quite gotten the hang of it and all its accompanying hormones yet.
This means irregular periods and can cause bleeding between periods for the first year or so of menstruation. Not to worry. Practice makes perfect, and your body will get the hang of this whole period thing soon enough, eventually settling into a more regular cycle.
Another reason for bleeding between periods is ovulation, aka the mid-cycle release of an egg from your ovaries. The flux in hormones that signals your body to release an egg from one of your ovaries can be a cause of spotting between periods, i.e. light pink or brown blood that shows up on the toilet tissue when you wipe.
Ovulation spotting happens in the middle of your cycle, or 14 days after the first day of your last period if your cycle is 28 days. Spotting is not enough blood for a pad or tampon, but enough to stain a light-coloured pair of knickers. It’s also nothing to worry about.
You’re stressed out
Stress can also alter the hormonal balance in your body, making it a reason for spotting between periods. If you suspect that stress is throwing off your period, try some relaxation techniques like deep breathing exercises.
Your body weight has changed in an extreme way
Some girls stop getting their period as a result of extreme weight gain or weight loss. The amount of body fat in your body affects your hormones.
A certain amount of body fat is healthy, and even critical, for normal hormone function. If you suspect that extreme dieting may be causing you to have irregular periods, talk to your doctor for help.
He or she will help you balance your nutrition and can help address any underlying body image issues prompting an extreme diet. Loving yourself the way you are is good for your health!
You have an underlying medical condition
Another common cause of hormone imbalance that can be a cause of bleeding between periods is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, aka PCOS, a condition that many women and girls experience.
This is when multiple follicular cysts form on the ovaries. These cysts contain eggs associated with hormonal disruption, which means they cannot be released, resulting in delayed, infrequent or absent periods.PCOS is diagnosed by a doctor.
Together with your doctor, the symptoms of PCOS are managed with medication like the birth control pill.
Now that you know what causes spotting between periods, you won’t be so concerned when it happens.
If you’re bleeding and it’s your period, pads are perfect. If you’re just spotting, don’t fret. Just wear a pantyliner like Always Dailies.
They work just like sanitary towels, but are way thinner and much more flexible, making them great for days when a pad is overkill, but you still need some protection. In fact, they’re so thin and flexible, you’ll barely know they’re there.
Bleeding on your favourite pair of knickers can be a real bummer. Always Dailies come in a range of shapes that fit all kinds of knickers, so you don’t have to wear a different pair just because you’re spotting.
Always Dailies keep you dry all day, for an extra boost of protection and confidence. Keep some on hand and never be caught off guard by spotting.