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Women's Healths

Bleeding Between Periods

When to Call a Health Professional

Many women experience bleeding or spotting between periods. It does not necessarily mean a serious condition is present. Use of an intrauterine device (IUD) may increase your chances of spotting. Some minor bleeding is common during ovulation and during the first few months of using birth control pills. Other hormonal birth control methods, such as Norplant implants and Depo-Provera injections, can cause bleeding between periods. Women who are breast-feeding often have irregular vaginal bleeding or spotting. Stress and hormonal imbalances are other common causes of irregular bleeding. In all of these situations, if the bleeding is not heavy and occurs only occasionally, there is probably no cause for concern. Avoid aspirin, which may prolong the bleeding.

There are other, less common causes of bleeding between periods that may be more serious:

When to Call a Health Professional

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Call 911 or other emergency services if you have severe vaginal bleeding (soaking more than 8 pads or super tampons in 8 hours) and signs of shock (See Shock).

Call a health professional:

  • If you are pregnant and have any vaginal bleeding.

  • If you have new lower abdominal pain with unexpected vaginal bleeding.

  • If the bleeding is severe, but you do not have signs of shock.

  • If you have irregular vaginal bleeding and a fever of 37.8°C (100°F) or higher.

  • If bleeding between periods lasts longer than 1 week or occurs 3 months in a row.

  • If bleeding occurs after sexual intercourse or douching.

  • If you are over 35 and have any bleeding between periods or prolonged bleeding with periods.

  • If you are using a hormonal method of birth control and your periods are different from what your doctor told you to expect.

  • If bleeding recurs after you have gone through menopause.

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