Learn About Vaginal Bleeding Between Periods

What is the definition of Vaginal Bleeding Between Periods?

This article discusses vaginal bleeding that occurs between a woman's monthly menstrual periods. Such bleeding may be called "intermenstrual bleeding."

Related topics include:

  • Dysfunctional uterine bleeding
  • Heavy, prolonged, or irregular menstrual periods
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What are the alternative names for Vaginal Bleeding Between Periods?

Bleeding between periods; Intermenstrual bleeding; Spotting; Metrorrhagia

What is some background information about Vaginal Bleeding Between Periods?

Normal menstrual flow lasts about 5 days. It produces a total blood loss of 30 to 80 mL (about 2 to 8 tablespoons), and occurs normally every 21 to 35 days.

Vaginal bleeding that occurs between periods or after menopause can be caused by various problems. Most are benign and can be easily treated. Sometimes, vaginal bleeding may be due to cancer or pre-cancer. Therefore, any unusual bleeding should be evaluated right away. The risk for cancer increases to about 10% in women with postmenopausal bleeding.

Make sure that bleeding is coming from the vagina and is not from the rectum or the urine. Inserting a tampon into the vagina will confirm the vagina, cervix, or uterus as the source of bleeding.

A careful exam by your health care provider is most often the best way to find the source of the bleeding. This exam can be done even while you are bleeding.

What are the causes of Vaginal Bleeding Between Periods?

Causes may include:

  • Uterine fibroids or cervical or uterine polyps
  • Changes in hormone levels
  • Inflammation or infection of the cervix (cervicitis) or uterus (endometritis)
  • Injury or disease of the vaginal opening (caused by intercourse, trauma, infection, polyp, genital warts, ulcer, or varicose veins)
  • IUD use (may cause occasional spotting)
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Miscarriage
  • Other pregnancy complications
  • Vaginal dryness due to lack of estrogen after menopause
  • Stress
  • Using hormonal birth control irregularly (such as stopping and starting or skipping birth control pills, patches, or estrogen rings)
  • Underactive thyroid (low thyroid function)
  • Use of blood thinners (anticoagulants)
  • Cancer or pre-cancer of the cervix, uterus, or (very rarely) fallopian tube
  • Pelvic exam, cervical biopsy, endometrial biopsy, or other procedures
How do I perform a home exam for a Vaginal Bleeding Between Periods?

Contact a provider right away if bleeding is very heavy.

Keep track of the number of pads or tampons used over time so that the amount of bleeding can be determined. Uterine blood loss can be estimated by keeping track of how frequently a pad or tampon is soaked and how often one needs to be changed.

If possible, aspirin should be avoided, as it may prolong bleeding. However, NSAIDS such as ibuprofen can be used to minimize bleeding and cramping.

When should I contact a medical professional for Vaginal Bleeding Between Periods?

Call your provider if:

  • You are pregnant.
  • There is any unexplained bleeding between periods.
  • There is any bleeding after menopause.
  • There is heavy bleeding with periods.
  • Abnormal bleeding is accompanied by other symptoms, such as pelvic pain, fatigue, dizziness.
What should I expect during a doctor appointment?

The provider will perform a physical exam and ask questions about your medical history. The physical exam will include a pelvic exam.

Questions about the bleeding may include:

  • When does the bleeding occur and how long does it last?
  • How heavy is the bleeding?
  • Do you have cramps too?
  • Are there things that make the bleeding worse?
  • Is there anything that prevents it or relieves it?
  • Do you have any other symptoms such as abdominal pain, bruising, pain when urinating, or blood in urine or stools?

Tests that may be done include:

  • Blood tests to check thyroid and ovarian function
  • Cervical cultures to check for a sexually transmitted infection
  • Colposcopy and cervical biopsy
  • Endometrial (uterine) biopsy
  • Pap smear
  • Pelvic ultrasound
  • Saline infusion sonohysterogram
  • Hysterosonogram
  • Hysteroscopy
  • Pregnancy test

Most causes of intermenstrual bleeding are easily treatable. The problem can most often be diagnosed without too much discomfort. Therefore, it is important not to delay in having this problem evaluated by your provider.

Female reproductive anatomy
Bleeding between periods
Who are the top Vaginal Bleeding Between Periods Local Doctors?
Highly rated in
Obstetrics and Gynecology
Gynecologic Oncology

Temple University Health System

Fox Chase Cancer Center East Norriton-Hospital Outpatient Center

2701 Dekalb Pike 
Norristown, PA 19401

Gina Mantia-Smaldone is an Obstetrics and Gynecologist and a Gynecologic Oncologist in Norristown, Pennsylvania. Dr. Mantia-Smaldone has been practicing medicine for over 18 years and is rated as a Distinguished doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Vaginal Bleeding Between Periods. She is also highly rated in 22 other conditions, according to our data. Her top areas of expertise are Endometrial Stromal Sarcoma, Vaginal Bleeding Between Periods, Endometrial Cancer, and Malignant Mixed Mullerian Tumor. She is licensed to treat patients in Pennsylvania. Dr. Mantia-Smaldone is currently accepting new patients.

Highly rated in
Obstetrics and Gynecology

Henry Ford Health System

Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital

6777 W Maple Rd 
West Bloomfield Township, MI 48322

Neil Simmerman is an Obstetrics and Gynecologist in West Bloomfield Township, Michigan. Dr. Simmerman has been practicing medicine for over 18 years and is rated as a Distinguished doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Vaginal Bleeding Between Periods. He is also highly rated in 1 other condition, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Vaginal Bleeding Between Periods, Vulvovaginitis, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, and Endometrial Polyps. He is licensed to treat patients in Michigan. Dr. Simmerman is currently accepting new patients.

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Highly rated in

Lund University

Lund, M, SE 

Lil Valentin is in Lund, Sweden. Valentin is rated as a Distinguished expert by MediFind in the treatment of Vaginal Bleeding Between Periods. She is also highly rated in 8 other conditions, according to our data. Her top areas of expertise are Vaginal Bleeding Between Periods, Endometrial Polyps, Ovarian Cancer, and Vaginal Cancer.

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What are the Latest Advances for Vaginal Bleeding Between Periods?
Systematic review and Meta-analysis on efficacy and safety of Gongxuening Capsules in treatment of abnormal vaginal bleeding after medical abortion.
Abnormal vaginal bleeding in women of reproductive age treated with edoxaban or warfarin for venous thromboembolism: a post hoc analysis of the Hokusai-VTE study.
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Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date : April 14, 2021
Published By : John D. Jacobson, MD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

Bulun SE. Physiology and pathology of the female reproductive axis. In: Melmed S, Auchus RJ, Goldfine AB, Koenig RJ, Rosen CJ, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 14th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 17.

Ellenson LH, Pirog EC. The female genital tract. In: Kumar V, Abbas AK, Aster JC, eds. Robbins and Cotran Pathologic Basis of Disease. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 22.

Ryntz T, Lobo RA. Abnormal uterine bleeding: etiology and management of acute and chronic excessive bleeding. In: Lobo RA, Gershenson DM, Lentz GM, Valea FA, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 26.

Singh V, Mishra B, Sinha S, Agrawal S, Thakur P. Role of saline infusion sonohysterography in infertility evaluation. J Hum Reprod Sci. 2018;11(3):236-241. PMID: 30568352 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30568352/.