After a normal monthly menstrual flow is over, any form of vaginal bleeding is supposed to stop until the next period. However, 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 doesn’t always indicate anything serious.
READ ALSO: Ovulation Bleeding
Spotting after a period can occur as a result of some reasons. It could be because of using some birth control methods, implantation bleeding, or it could be just the normal part of your menstrual cycle when ovulation happens. In some rare cases, stress has been connected with some spotting after periods. Depending on the cause of the spotting, you may also experience vaginal discharge, lower abdominal pain, pelvic discomfort, or cramping.
If you are concerned about spotting after your period, find out what could be causing this abnormal vaginal bleeding.
Spotting or Bleeding Between Periods
Most women have a period approximately every 28 days as part of their menstrual cycle, although periods can start sooner or later from day 21 to day 35. Typically a period lasts between 3 and 8 days and appears to be heavier in the first two days.19
Vaginal bleeding between periods is called intermenstrual bleeding (IMB) which describes vaginal bleeding at any time during the menstrual cycle other than during normal menstruation. Another name for it is metrorrhagia which refers to vaginal bleeding at irregular intervals, especially between the expected menstrual periods.
Differences between Spotting and Bleeding
Spotting between periods occurs when you notice small amounts of blood when you are not expecting your period. The spots of blood are often seen after wiping when you have used the bathroom or you may notice them on your underwear.
Spotting is normally small with a lighter color, while bleeding is a heavier flow, usually with a darker color.
Blood from spotting is generally older than menstrual blood
Spotting may be a darker, brown colour that looks like rust marks or spots on underwear, it may also be lighter, pinkish color.
Menstrual bleeding usually starts as very light bleeding and gradually gets heavier, while spotting is light.
Causes of Spotting After Period
Here are the most common causes of spotting after your period has ended.
Implantation bleeding is normally the first sign of pregnancy and can cause brown spotting after your period. Implantation bleeding is normal and is nothing to be worried about. Apart from this spotting, other signs may be pelvic cramping, white milky or creamy discharge, and absence of period. 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.
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 doctor immediately.
Ovulation spotting is a light bleeding about one week or two weeks after the end of your period. 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 ovulation bleeding according to Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dr. Andrew M. Kaunitz from the University of Florida, is 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. Ovulation can also cause an increase in vaginal secretions which become slightly thicker just after ovulation. The chances of a woman getting pregnant during ovulation is high.
Ovarian cysts can cause abnormal bleeding and spotting at the end of your menstrual flow. Cysts can form in the ovaries and develop as part of the menstrual cycle. Usually ovarian cysts don’t cause any problems, but in some cases, these cysts can become larger and cause pain and bleeding when they rupture. Other symptoms of ovarian cysts apart from spotting are bloating, pelvic pain, bloating, and pain during bowel movements. Ovarian cysts can be surgically removed if they become uncomfortable.
Pelvic inflammatory disease
If you notice light bleeding after your period, it could be a symptom of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Bacterial infection causes lower pelvic pain, vaginal discharge, and irregular bleeding which often results from a sexually transmitted disease. Bacterial infection responsible for bleeding between periods is caused by inflammation and infection in the fallopian tubes, ovaries, and uterus. It’s important to seek medical treatment as soon as possible, as pelvic inflammatory disease can cause complications in your reproductive system.
Spotting or light bleeding between periods is common in women who are approaching the menopause. The few years before the menopause are called the perimenopause. During this period, menstrual periods will become more irregular because of fluctuations in estrogen levels. If vaginal bleeding lasts longer than normal, they advise speaking to your doctor to have a checkup and to rule out more threatening health conditions.
READ ALSO: Menopause and Perimenopause
Women who started using birth control in the past few months, may notice some spotting after period. This is common if you have started taking the contraceptive pill or have had a fitted intrauterine device (IUD).
According to the University of Colorado, birth control pills can cause spotting or abnormal vaginal bleeding in the first few months of using them. Spotting can also 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 light bleeding between their periods all the time while they have the IUD fitted. If you have severe abdominal or pelvic pain, vaginal discharge with an offensive odor, see your doctor.
Uterine polyps are soft growths attached to the endometrium (inner wall of the uterus). They are usually noncancerous (benign) but they are known to cause issues with the menstrual periods or infertility. Uterine polyps are most commonly develop in women who are going through or have completed menopause, although younger women can be affected too. Uterine polyps can causes bleeding between periods as well as affect the duration and frequency of your periods.
Cervical cancer, endometrial cancer and cancer of the ovaries can all cause irregular bleeding after your period has ended. If you have been through the menopause, remember that any kind spotting or vaginal bleeding is considered abnormal and should be checked out by a doctor. Most people with abnormal bleeding don’t have cancer, but see your doctor since abnormal bleeding from the vagina can be a symptom of cancer.
Uterine fibroids can also cause spotting a week or more after the end of your period. Uterine fibroids are harmless growths that grow in the uterus. Apart from brown spotting, fibroids can also cause bladder problems and lower back or pelvic pains. They may also cause heavier than usual menstrual bleeding.
One of the signs of 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.
According to doctors at WebMD, hypothyroidism can cause fatigue, dry skin, and changes in the menstrual cycle. If you have spotting after your period has ended along with pelvic discomfort and painful periods, see your doctor.