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Possible causes for spotting between periods

Spotting between periods can be considered normal when it occurs after gynecological examinations and changes in contraceptives, with there being no need for treatment and does not indicate any health problem. In most cases, spotting between periods, also called leak bleeding, is a small bleeding that can occur between menstrual cycles and lasts for about 2 days.

However, a small bleeding outside of your menstrual period can also be a sign of pregnancy when it appears 2 to 3 days after unprotected intercourse, for example, or it may be a premenopausal symptom when it occurs in women over the age of 40. See what bleeding during pregnancy can indicate.

Possible causes for spotting between periods

Main causes

The main causes of spotting between periods are:

  • Stress, because in these situations there can be a hormonal imbalance, however this can be solved through exercises and aromatherapy, for example;
  • Changes in your contraceptive method, being considered a normal cause of spotting between periods and, therefore, it is recommended you wait until the body is used to the new method. If the bleeding continues, it is recommended you go to a gynecologist to verify if the bleeding is due to the changes in the contraceptive method;
  • Uterine polyps, which are more common in menopausal women and correspond to excessive growth of cells in the inner wall of the uterus and do not always need treatment, only when malignancy is suspected;
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome, which is characterized by the presence of various cysts in your ovaries due to a hormonal imbalance and whose treatment must be done according to a gynecologist's recommendation, and generally the use of contraceptives is recommended;
  • Thyroid problems, in which there is an imbalance in the production of a series of hormones, which can result in spotting between periods. To alleviate symptoms related to thyroid problems it is recommended you increase the consumption of foods with iodine, zinc and selenium to regulate the thyroid;
  • Infections, which can be caused by parasites, fungi or bacteria, and may even be a sexually transmitted disease, and in these cases there is also bleeding after sexual intercourse. Depending on the type of infection, the doctor may recommend the use of medication to fight the infection;
  • After gynecological exams, as some procedures may be invasive, such as pap smears, for example, it is completely normal to have small bleeding, and no treatment is needed.

In addition, other situations can cause spotting outside the menstrual period or excessive bleeding, such as ectopic pregnancy and uterine cancer, and so it is fundamental you follow all medical recommendations.

So as not to be confused with bleeding between periods, know when your menstrual period should return:

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Bleeding after intercourse

Bleeding after sexual intercourse is not normal, only when it happens after your first sexual relationship, with the hymen breaking. If bleeding occurs after intercourse, it is important to go to the gynecologist so that tests can be done and the cause of the bleeding is identified. 

Bleeding may be a sign of sexually transmitted diseases, trauma during intercourse, presence of wounds in the cervix or occur due to insufficient lubrication of the vagina, for example. In addition, if the woman has cancer or ovarian cysts, endometriosis, or bacterial or fungal infections, bleeding may occur after intercourse. 

Bleeding after intercourse can be assessed according to the amount of blood and color, with live red indicating infections or lack of lubrication, and the brown indicating spotting between periods, which lasts for about 2 days. Know when dark bleeding is a warning sign.

When to go to the doctor

It is recommended you go to the gynecologist when:

  • Bleeding occurs outside your menstrual period;
  • Excess bleeding for more than 3 days;
  • The spotting, even if it is a little, lasts more than 3 cycles;
  • Excessive bleeding occurs after intercourse;
  • Vaginal bleeding develops during menopause.

In these cases, the doctor may perform diagnostic tests, such as a pap smear, ultrasonography, or colposcopy to evaluate the woman's reproductive system and identify if there is any problem causing the bleeding, initiating appropriate treatment if necessary. See also how to treat menstrual hemorrhage.

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