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Abnormal vaginal bleeding is any bleeding (including light spotting) that occurs outside of the confines of a woman's menstrual period. The majority of women of reproductive age have menstrual cycles of between 23 and 35 days, and experience menstrual bleeding for a duration of between three and six days. Should your menstrual bleeding recently have finished, only for you to once again experience some form of vaginal spotting, you should always take this seriously.

Some causes of bleeding shortly after a period ended are benign and easily explainable, while others require more through investigation.

Non-Worrisome Causes Of Bleeding Between Periods

Among the most common reasons for which a woman will experience abnormal vaginal bleeding is hormonal birth control. Women who have recently began to use any form of hormonal birth control, including combined or progestin-only birth control pills, Depo Provera, the Mirena IUD, and Nexplanon (Implanon), are quite likely to experience abnormal vaginal bleeding within the first three months as a result of hormone levels adjusting in the body. If you fall into this category, you can give your birth control provider a call about the matter, but needn't worry too much.

Some other medications, which are not birth-control related, can also result in abnormal vaginal bleeding. If you do take any medications and experience bleeding between periods, let your doctor know.

Other non-worrisome reasons for bleeding between periods include vaginal douching and more enthusiastic vaginal intercourse. Douching interrupts the normal vaginal microbiome, and the vagina is self-cleaning, so if you do douche, cease to do so and try taking a probiotic to restore your flora. Following vigorous intercourse, simply abstain for a few days and keep an eye. If the bleeding goes away, you will not need to see a doctor.

Bleeding Between Periods Can Also Be Serious

Not all bleeding between periods is benign, however. One of the things women who have just finished what they thought was a menstrual period have to take into account is the possibility that their initial period was not a period, but a miscarriage or bleeding associated with an ectopic pregnancy. If there is any chance that you are or were pregnant and experience bleeding, this always needs to be evaluated by a doctor. Ectopic pregnancy can also be accompanied by sharp pain, fever, and dizziness. A miscarriage, meanwhile, will involve bleeding heavier than a menstrual period. If you recognize these symptoms, seek immediate medical help.

Uterine fibroids and polyps, ovarian cysts, Polocystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, hormonal imbalances such as hyperthyroidism, and an infection of the reproductive tract (including but not limited to sexually transmitted diseases) can all also explain bleeding between periods or beginning bleeding shortly after a menstrual period has finished. Finally, bleeding between periods can indeed be a sign of reproductive cancers, such as cervical, uterine, and ovarian cancer.

As a patient, you cannot go wrong with having your abnormal vaginal bleeding checked out by your healthcare provider, even if you are quite sure you are bleeding because you recently started a new form of birth control. If you have been experiencing bleeding between periods over the course of multiple cycles now, definitely consult your healthcare provider as soon as you can. If your bleeding is accompanied by other worrying symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, fever, dizziness and acute pain, go to the Emergency Room right away.

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