We explain why you experience bleeding between periods and what this could mean for your fertility.
When you're trying for a baby you tend to pay more attention to the variations in your menstrual cycle than usual. Bleeding or spotting between your periods can really throw off your timing - particularly if you're charting - and an unexpected symptom like this can can be a cause for concern and generally leave you wondering what's going on.
To help you understand what this menstrual symptom means we explain what causes bleeding between periods and what you should do if you experience it.
What causes bleeding between periods? -
There are a number of causes of spotting between periods, these include:
Ovulation spotting -
Some women regularly experience light spotting when they ovulate as ovarian follicles can release a little blood when they burst to free the egg. Ovulation spotting tends to occur 10 - 14 days into your menstrual cycle and, as a natural 'side effect' , is absolutely nothing to worry about.
It is, however, worth noting that spotting at ovulation is only considered a secondary sign of fertility as it is not experienced by all women and therefore not a reliable indicator of when you are at your most fertile.
Hormonal fluctuations -
Mid-cycle bleeding can be caused by fluctuations in your levels of reproductive hormones throughout the month as a response to stress, a change in diet or some other external factor.
Breakthrough bleeding -
While this is unlikely to apply if you are trying for a baby, women sometimes experience mid-cycle bleeding when they start taking a new brand of contraceptive pill. Known as breakthrough bleeding this tends to occur whilst you are taking the first couple of packets but then eases off thereafter.
Caused by a yeast infection, a severe bout of thrush can mean you experience bleeding between your periods in addition to some of the more well known symptoms such as itching and heavy discharge.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease -
Known as PID for short, this is a inflammatory, bacterial infection of the upper reproductive tract that can affect the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes. It can cause bleeding between periods, pain in the lower abdomen, thick discharge, fever and vomiting and can eventually impact fertility if it is left untreated.
, a condition where endometrial tissue (usually found in the womb) develops elsewhere in the reproductive system, lists bleeding between periods as one of its side effects and severe cases can ultimately cause problems with fertility.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome -
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition where multiple cysts develop on the ovaries, can sometimes cause irregular bleeding and spotting alongside symptoms such as weight gain, acne, excessive hair growth and problems with fertility.
Ectopic pregnancy -
, where an embryo implants outside of the uterus, can sometimes cause vaginal bleeding as a side effect along with severe abdominal pain on one size, tender breasts and dizziness.
Sexually transmitted infections -
Bleeding between periods and after intercourse can sometimes be indicative of a sexually transmitted infection and if left untreated could cause problems with fertility in the long term.
Bleeding between periods can occasionally be a symptom of a more serious condition such as cancer of the womb or cervix. However, this is only the case for a small minority of women.
What should I do if I experience spotting? -
If you experience bleeding between periods, whether on its own or after intercourse, you should book an appointment to see your doctor as soon as possible. More than likely the spotting will simply be due to fluctuations in your hormone levels and will be nothing to worry about. However, if there is an underlying condition that has the potential to impact your fertility, the sooner you get it checked out and treated the better.
During your appointment your doctor is likely to ask you about the symptoms you've been experiencing and will be able to carry out some blood tests and possibly an internal examination to find out why you're noticing bleeding between your periods.
Whether you have questions about your menstrual cycle or something else entirely, why not visit the AskBaby forums for a chat.