When it comes to reproductive health, some women are an open book. They have no issue bringing up the subject and discussing it openly — with their friends, female relatives, and their doctors. Others feel like the topics are embarrassing or taboo, so when they have questions regarding vaginal discharge, they may feel adrift as to who to ask. Such can be the case if you’ve recently noticed spotting in your underwear. Why is it happening? Could it be a sign of a health issue? And, how can you differentiate it from a regular period?
What is spotting?
While most women of reproductive age have their period once a month, sometimes, you may notice light vaginal bleeding while you’re not menstruating. This amount can be significant enough to be clearly noticeable, but much lighter than a regular period (not enough to need a pad, tampon, or menstrual cup). The blood may also look lighter. However, when a person notices spotting, they don’t experience any additional symptoms typically associated with having your period.
Causes of Spotting
There are many reasons that could cause a woman to notice spotting mid-cycle. While they could be harmless, you should always bring them up to your medical provider to either diagnose or rule out a health condition. The most common causes include:
- Taking oral contraceptives
- Having an intrauterine device (IUD)
- Rough sexual intercourse
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
- Uterine fibroids
- Cervical polyps
- Sexual assault
If, in addition to spotting, you experience a burning sensation while urinating, pain during sexual intercourse, vaginal itching, abdominal pain, or heavy bleeding, these are signs that the spotting is caused by an underlying medical condition. If this occurs, you should seek medical attention immediately.
What is a period?
Every month, your body gets ready for a potential pregnancy. As part of this process, the lining of the uterus becomes thicker — which would make it easier for a fertilized egg to attach to it. If pregnancy doesn’t occur, the uterus sheds this lining, which comes out of the vagina as blood and tissue. This is known as menstruation (commonly known as a period).
While spotting and periods both involve blood coming out of the vagina, going through menstruation also comes with additional symptoms. These often include:
- Breast tenderness
- Abdominal cramping
- Mood swings
- Lower back pains
- Food cravings
Most menstrual cycles last anywhere between 21 and 35 days, and while some people get them like clockwork every month, other women can experience irregular periods. They typically start for the first time sometime between 10 and 16 years of age, and continue until menopause.
Call OB-GYN Women’s Centre of Lakewood Ranch for More Information
At OB-GYN Women’s Centre of Lakewood Ranch, we provide a variety of services. No matter your age or medical history, we’ll help you feel comfortable and answer all of your reproductive health-related questions.
Call us today to schedule an appointment.