written by: Kecia
• edited by: BStone
• updated: 3/16/2011
Light bleeding between periods is something that many women have experienced. Sometimes it is a normal occurrence, but in other cases it is a symptom of a much more serious condition.
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Vaginal bleeding is defined as any spotting or bleeding that occurs in between periods. Menstrual bleeding is natural and does not fall into this classification. Blood present between two periods can be caused by a number of things. Some are more serious than others, but you should pay attention any time it occurs.
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Possible Causes of Light Bleeding or Spotting
The body’s menstrual cycle can sometimes be the culprit for light bleeding between periods. Sometime between the 10th and 14th day following the menstrual period, most women ovulate, which is the time when an egg is released from an ovary. This can cause a bit of spotting for some women. If this is the cause of the bleeding, it will occur around the same time almost every month.
Female hormonal changes can affect the reproductive system, including causing light bleeding or spotting. These alterations can be caused by changes in your birth control, especially starting or stopping oral contraceptives. Stress and menopause are other contributors to shifting hormones in a woman’s body.
Any bacteria that enters the vagina and creates an infection can cause light bleeding as well. A urinary tract infection is probably the most common, and it is usually caused by rectal bacteria that enter the vagina through the urethra. Other symptoms that accompany a UTI include burning and itching, pain during sexual intercourse or a difference in vaginal discharge.
Sexually transmitted infections, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea, can also cause light bleeding between periods. They can also have the same symptoms as a urinary tract infection, so it is important that you consult with your gynecologist if the signs of an infection are present.
If the egg that was released within the previous ovulation was fertilized, it is likely you will notice a bit of implantation bleeding before your next expected period. This occurs when the egg attaches itself to the uterine lining to create the home for what will be a growing fetus. If something happens early in the pregnancy, the light bleeding could also be a sign of a miscarriage. A missed period can sometimes help confirm if light bleeding is due to pregnancy.
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When to Be Concerned
Very light vaginal bleeding that does not persist for more than a few days is usually no cause for a concern. It can be normal for some women to experience a bit of spotting between periods from time to time. Make sure the blood is coming from the vagina and not from the anus or that it is not in the urine. You can use a tampon to collect the blood. Consult with your doctor if the bleeding lasts longer than three days, has lasted for more than three cycles, or when the bleeding just doesn’t seem right for you, possibly because it is accompanied by other symptoms.