11 Reasons Not to Ignore Spotting After Period

Spotting After Period
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When the menstrual period is over, most women expect that any vaginal bleeding will stop until the next period. So, you may be worried if you have noticed signs of spotting after your period has ended. Thankfully, noticing some pink or brown spots on your underwear or having light vaginal bleeding a week or more after your period isn’t usually anything to worry about.

Spotting after a period can happen because of using some birth control methods, it could be the first sign of pregnancy (implantation bleeding), or it could be just the normal part of your menstrual cycle when ovulation happens. Even stress has been connected with spotting between periods. Depending on the cause of the spotting, you may also experience vaginal discharge, lower abdominal pain, pelvic discomfort, or cramping.

Because bleeding after your period has ended is classed as “abnormal vaginal bleeding”, doctors at the Mayo Clinic recommend seeing a doctor or gynecologist for a checkup.1 This is because spotting between periods could also be a symptom of a more serious medical condition like ovarian cysts, thyroid disease or cancer in the reproductive organs.

If you are concerned about spotting after your period, please read on to find out what could be causing this abnormal vaginal bleeding.

Causes of Spotting After Period

Here are the most common causes of light bleeding or spotting after your period has ended.

Ovulation

Light bleeding about one week or two weeks after the end of your period could be due to ovulation. A woman’s menstrual cycle lasts on average 28 days and ovulation occurs about 10 to 14 days after the start of the menstrual period.

The reason for light bleeding when ovulation occurs is explained by Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dr. Andrew M. Kaunitz from the University of Florida. He says that sudden changes in hormone levels can cause vaginal spotting at the time of ovulation. Women who have irregular periods may also find that they have light bleeding between periods.2

According to the Mayo Clinic, ovulation can also cause an increase in vaginal secretions which become slightly thicker just after ovulation. Around the time of ovulation is the optimal time for a woman to become pregnant.

Implantation bleeding

Implantation bleeding is one of the first signs of pregnancy and can cause brown spotting after your period. This light bleeding is completely natural and is nothing to be concerned about. Along with spotting, the early signs of pregnancy are a white milky or creamy discharge and pelvic cramping, but no period.

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that when the fertilized egg attaches itself to the lining of the uterus, some light spotting can occur. However, not all women experience light bleeding as the first sign of pregnancy.3

The only way of being sure that you are pregnant is by taking a pregnancy test. Home testing kits are generally quite reliable and a doctor will also carry out a test to confirm if you are pregnant or not.

If you are already pregnant and you notice vaginal bleeding, you should contact your health care professional as soon as possible. Dr. Traci Johnson on WebMD says that although some light bleeding is common during the first trimester, it could also be a sign of a more serious condition like miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy.4

Birth control

If you have started using birth control in the past few months, you could experience some spotting after your period. This is common if you have started taking the contraceptive pill or have had an intrauterine device (IUD) fitted.

According to the University of Colorado, birth control pills can cause spotting or abnormal vaginal bleeding in the first few months of using them. Also, spotting can occur if the estrogen dose is changed or you miss taking the pill at the same time every day. Some spotting may happen in the first few days of having an IUD fitted. Some women continue to have spotting between their periods all the time while they have the IUD fitted.5

If you have heavy vaginal bleeding, severe abdominal or pelvic pain, and/or vaginal discharge that gives off a foul odor, you should visit your doctor.6

Perimenopause

Spotting after your period or light bleeding between periods is common in women who are approaching the menopause. The few years before the menopause are called the perimenopause. You will also notice that your menstrual periods become more irregular because your estrogen levels fluctuate.

Doctors from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists say that fluctuations in the levels of the hormones progesterone and estrogen can cause heavy menstrual bleeding and spotting before period. However, between periods you may have more frequent spotting or light, irregular bleeding. If vaginal bleeding lasts longer than normal, they advise speaking to your doctor to have a checkup and to rule out more sinister health conditions.7

To find relief from the stress and anxiety that the menopause can cause, please read my articles on the best natural supplements for coping with the menopause and how essential oils can provide relief from menopausal symptoms.

Stress

Pink or brown spotting after your period could be due to physiological or emotional stress. Stress can affect your body in many ways, and play havoc with your monthly cycle.

Dr. Melissa Stöppler on MedicineNet says that stress can interfere with the menstrual cycle and cause irregular periods. She says that stress is one of the most common causes of missed or late menstrual periods.8 The National Health Service in the United Kingdom says that stress also causes spotting or light bleeding after your period has ended.9

There are many natural ways to help you cope with stress better and, therefore, prevent spotting after your periods. For more information on reducing stress, please read my article about various natural remedies for coping with anxiety and stress better.

Ovarian cyst

Ovarian cysts can cause abnormal bleeding and spotting after your period has finished. Cysts can form in the ovaries and develop as part of the menstrual cycle. Usually ovarian cysts don’t cause any problems, however, in some cases, these cysts can become larger and cause pain and bleeding if they rupture.

Professor of Gynecology and Obstetrics at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Dr. Irina Burd says that among the symptoms of ovarian cysts are spotting or light bleeding after your period. You may also have pelvic pain, bloating, and pain during bowel movements.10

Many doctors often take a “wait and see” approach to treating ovarian cysts. If they become bothersome, they can be surgically removed. If you are concerned about ovarian cysts, you can find some useful information in my article about the warning signs of ovarian cysts and what to do about them.

Underactive thyroid

Even though it doesn’t seem connected with your reproductive system, one of the signs of an underactive thyroid is spotting a week or more after the end of your period. An underactive thyroid condition is called hypothyroidism where the thyroid doesn’t make enough thyroid hormone to keep your body functioning properly.

Doctors at WebMD say that hypothyroidism can cause tiredness, fatigue, dry skin, and changes in the menstrual cycle.11 Regarding the effect of thyroid disease on abnormal vaginal bleeding, Dr. Millie A Behera on MedScape.com says that hypothyroidism can cause random or frequent bleeding that can be heavy or light.12

Pelvic inflammatory disease

If you notice spotting after your period or even light bleeding, it could be a symptom of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). The vaginal discharge, lower pelvic pain, and irregular bleeding from the vagina are all caused by a bacterial infection which often results from a sexually transmitted disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that the bacterial infection responsible for bleeding between periods is caused by inflammation and infection in the ovaries, uterus, and/or fallopian tubes. It’s important to seek medical treatment as soon as possible, as pelvic inflammatory disease can cause complications in your reproductive system and even make you infertile if left untreated.13

Cancer

Cancer of the ovaries, endometrial cancer, and cervical cancer can all cause irregular bleeding after your period has ended. If you have been through the menopause, then it’s good to remember that any kind spotting or vaginal bleeding is considered abnormal and should be checked out by a doctor.

The NHS says that most people with abnormal bleeding don’t have cancer, but because bleeding from the vagina can be a symptom of cancer, you should see a doctor. This means that if you have been through the menopause, any kind of vaginal bleeding is a cause for concern. If you haven’t been through the menopause, then you should see a doctor if your periods are heavier than usual or you have unusual bleeding after your period has ended.14

Uterine fibroids

Sometimes uterine fibroids can cause spotting a week or more after the end of your period. Uterine fibroids are harmless growths that develop in the uterus. Apart from brown spotting, fibroids can cause lower back pain, pelvic discomfort and bladder problems. They may also cause heavier than usual menstrual bleeding.

If you have spotting after your period has ended along with pelvic discomfort and painful periods, doctors at the Mayo Clinic recommend that you visit your doctor.15

To find out more about how to identify if you have uterine fibroids, you can find helpful information in my article about the warning signs of uterine fibroids.

Urethral prolapse

If the muscles that hold your urethra in place become weakened and stretched, you may experience pink spotting after the end of your period. In order to prevent spotting caused by prolapse and strengthen the pelvic muscles, many women have found Kegel exercises to be very helpful.

Spotting After Your Period Has Ended – When to See a Doctor

You should see a doctor in any case of unusual or abnormal vaginal bleeding between periods. This can help to put your mind at rest and start treatment as soon as possible in case the spotting is because of a serious condition.

Your doctor may also check you over for other underlying health conditions. For example, irregular menstrual cycles have been linked to an increased risk of developing heart disease16 and type 2 diabetes.17

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Article Sources

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  3. org. Getting pregnant.
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  5. ColaradoWomensHealth.com. Vaginal bleeding.
  6. com. Intrauterine device for birth control.
  7. org. Perimenopausal bleeding.
  8. com. Can stress cause irregular periods?
  9. uk. What causes vaginal bleeding between periods?
  10. com. Ovarian cysts.
  11. Medscape.com. Abnormal uterine bleeding.
  12. com. Hypothyroidism.
  13. gov. Pelvic inflammatory disease.
  14. uk. Symptoms of womb cancer
  15. org. Uterine fibroids.
  16. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002 May;87(5):2013-7.
  17. JAMA. 2001 Nov 21;286(19):2421-6.
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