Breakthrough bleeding, also known as spotting, refers to abnormal menstrual bleeding that takes place during times other than at menses. Although bleeding between normal periods may be inconvenient and frustrating, it is rarely dangerous.
Vaginal bleeding is caused when the endometrium or inner lining of the uterus sheds into the uterine canal and i
s passed out through the vagina. There are many triggers for breakthrough bleeding, but nearly all can be attributed to fluctuating hormonal levels. Irregularity in the body’s levels of luteinizing hormone, follicle stimulating hormone, estrogen and progesterone can all lead to irregular bleeding, since these are the hormones responsible for regulating endometrial shedding.
These hormonal fluctuations can be caused by pregnancy, ovulation, oral contraceptives or even stress. Smokers who are taking oral contraceptives tend to be more susceptible to spotting than non-smokers. Typically cessation of abnormal bleeding takes longer in smokers than those who do not smoke. This is likely due to lowered levels of estrogen, which have been associated with smoking. Excess body weight has also been associated with irregular bleeding.
The Most Common Cause of Breakthrough Bleeding Is…
The most common cause of bleeding between periods in the use of oral contraceptives. Initial use of birth control pills or changes in the type or frequency of pills taken commonly result in irregular menstrual bleeding. This is due to thinning or atrophy of the endometrial walls as the body’s natural hormone levels are replaced by the lower hormone levels provided in the contraceptives.
Fibroid tumors which are benign tumors that form specifically on the interior uterine walls can also be a common cause of spotting. The presence of fibroid tumors can be detected by a medical professional. Detection of tumors should be followed by a PAP smear procedure to determine the nature of the tumors and rule out potential malignancies. Non-malignant (fibriod) tumors are most common between the ages of thirty and fifty and will typically recede at menopause.
Better To Be Safe Than Sorry With Breakthrough Bleeding
Most women are likely to suffer from irregular bleeding at some time in their lives. Many will not seek a solution to ease their symptoms, particularly if the bleeding is intermittent and ceases within a few months or if the cause is known. Consulting a health care professional is advised when bleeding is either heavy or does not resolve by itself, since this could signal more serious medical issues. Your doctor can advise you on how best to deal with the causes and symptoms of breakthrough bleeding.