Breakthrough bleeding 101: What you must know about it
Vaginal bleeding isn’t always about your periods. If you’re dealing with vaginal bleeding or spotting that occurs between menstrual cycle or while you’re pregnant, this is known as “breakthrough bleeding.”
Most women have an idea of when their next period will arrive. But spotting blood on your underwear before the due date often leads to women going into a state of panic. And what adds up to worry is that many times, women do not know what may actually be causing it.
Come, let’s find out how to detect breakthrough bleeding or spotting, as well as what might be causing it and when you should visit your doctor.
Health Shots spoke to Dr Sangeeta Gomes, Consultant – Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospital, Sarjapur, Bengaluru, who explained about this condition and its causes.
What is breakthrough bleeding?
Dr Gomes says, “Breakthrough bleeding refers to any bleeding or spotting that occurs between menstrual cycles or while pregnant. Blood is typically light reddish brown or dark reddish brown, similar to blood at the beginning or end of a period.” Depending on the cause, it may resemble regular menstrual blood. Every month, it’s critical to keep track of any changes in your regular bleeding patterns.
Symptoms of breakthrough bleeding
Spotting is usually much lighter than regular menstrual flow. Unlike a regular period, it can be so light that no pad or tampon is required. There may be no symptoms of spotting, but if it is caused by a medical problem, you may experience additional symptoms, such as:
- Pain or burning sensation while peeing or sexual intercourse
- Itching, redness, or vaginal discharge
- Abdominal pain
- Irregular periods
- Heavy bleeding during periods
Causes of breakthrough bleeding
1. Implantation bleeding
Spotting is a common symptom in the early weeks of pregnancy. When a fertilised egg connects to the uterine wall, it is known as implantation, which leads to spotting. This small amount of implantation blood could be misinterpreted as a monthly cycle, leading a woman to be unaware that she is pregnant.
Some birth control methods, particularly when first used, can cause spotting. Dr Gomes says, “Spotting has been reported by some women who use an IUD (intrauterine device) for birth control.”
Fibroids and cervical polyps, which are benign growths in the cervix or uterus, can cause spotting and abnormal bleeding.
According to Dr. Gomes, “Breakthrough bleeding can also be caused by infections such as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).”
5. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
Multiple cysts in the ovaries are a typical symptom of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). It can lead to problems in conceiving, as well as causing breakthrough bleeding.
6. Miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy
“Spotting and bleeding in early pregnancy are sometimes linked to miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy, while the vast majority of spotting in pregnant women is not due to serious causes,” says Dr Gomes.
In most cases, breakthrough bleeding is normal and not a cause for concern. You can try to control it with tampons, pads, pantyliners, and menstrual cups. However, it’s OK to discuss your worries with your doctor if you’re unsure what’s causing the bleeding.