Irregular bleeding between periods, known as spotting, is a common problem with many possible causes. It can be concerning, but most triggers are relatively minor. These are a few of the typical reasons women experience spotting.
Low Estrogen Levels
The hormone estrogen keeps the lining of the uterus stable. If your estrogen levels are low, small amounts of the lining can shed before your period, causing spotting. That’s why many women taking birth control with little or no estrogen, like the mini-pill and hormonal IUD, notice spotting between their periods. Switching to a birth control pill with more estrogen or taking estrogen supplements can improve your hormonal balance and reduce spotting.
Taking a New Birth Control Pill
Taking a new birth control pill alters your body’s hormones. It can take up to a few months for your body to get used to the hormones and stabilize. Spotting is common during this adjustment period. You might notice spotting when you start taking the contraceptive pill for the first time or when you switch to a new birth pill.
You might also spot if you don’t take the pill for a while, then resume taking it. Taking the pill daily as recommended prevents this problem. Give your body three months to adjust. If spotting persists, your doctor might suggest an alternative contraceptive.
Stress raises your body’s cortisol levels. This prevents your body from releasing estrogen and progesterone, the two hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle. If you feel your stress levels rising, you may notice some spotting until your body’s in balance again. Making time for stress relief can help it along. Deep breathing, meditation, yoga, and reading are all great methods for reducing stress.
Many pregnant women worry when they notice they’re spotting. However, one in five women spot in their first trimester. Half of these women have happy, healthy babies. Spotting often occurs when the fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterine lining to grow. Harmless cervical growths known as cervical polyps are more likely to bleed during pregnancy, when estrogen levels are elevated.
There are also more blood vessels around the cervix during pregnancy. You’ll spot if they rupture during sex, a gynecological exam, or even exercise. This is totally safe, but you should still mention your observations to your doctor or midwife. Spotting is much rarer in the second and third trimester, so seek medical advice if you notice irregular bleeding later in your pregnancy.
Infections and Other Medical Issues
Sometimes infections and other medical issues trigger spotting. Abnormal growth of uterine muscle tissue called fibroids, polyps on your uterus or cervix, and cesarean scar defects can all cause spotting. A pelvic exam can discover these problems.
You might bleed from your urethra while suffering from a urinary tract infection. These infections are easily diagnosed as they make urination painful.
If you don’t treat certain pelvic infections, like sexually transmitted infections, you might contract pelvic inflammatory disease. Spotting is a common symptom, along with vaginal discharge, pain in the lower abdomen, and pain during sex. Your doctor can treat for all these health complaints.
Spotting can occur for many different reasons. Most of them are totally normal and nothing to worry about. If you are concerned about spotting though, see your doctor.