How to Identify Abnormal Vaginal Spotting Between Periods

Most women experience bleeding every month due to menstruation, and this is completely normal during the childbearing years. However, there are those who suffer from spotting or bleeding outside of their normal cycle, and this could be a symptom of a more serious issue. Therefore, it is vital that all woman can identify the difference between what's normal and what's not when it comes to vaginal spotting.

Part One of Two:
Distinguishing Between Normal and Abnormal Bleeding

  1. 1
    Determine your normal menstrual period. In order to distinguish between your normal menstrual period and abnormal spotting, you will need to be familiar with your normal cycle. This will help you to differentiate between what's normal and what's not.
    • A normal female menstrual cycle lasts for approximately 28 days, the first day of which is the first day of your monthly period. The bleeding usually lasts for 2 to 3 days but some women have it for as long as 6 days.
    • Any bleeding that occurs within the range of your regular menstrual period is usually normal and not a cause for concern. However, any spotting or bleeding that occurs outside of your normal cycle could be a cause for concern, and will require further investigation.
  2. 2
    Compare the characteristics of the spotting with previous periods. Think back to your menstrual cycles from the previous few months and compare the characteristics of each period to identify a pattern.
    • Think about how long each period lasted for (usually 3 to 7 days) and how much blood was present. In most women, the first two days of the period have the heaviest blood flow.
    • Most women will lose between 30 to 80 ml of blood on these days, and go through approximately 5 heavy flow tampons or pads. On the remaining days of the period, most women will go through approximately 2 regular flow tampons or pads.
    • Think back to how many days there were between your last period and the one before it. This is usually anywhere from 21 to 35 days. Keeping a diary over the course of a few months can really help you to identify patterns in your menstrual cycle.
    • Any spotting or bleeding that occurs outside of your normal pattern may be considered abnormal.
  3. 3
    Check your vital signs. After the spotting/bleeding, regularly monitor your blood pressure every hour to determine it is stable or not.
    • A progressive lowering of BP combined with an increasing pulse rate may indicate that a hemorrhage has occurred, which may not be visible if bleeding is occurring internally within the uterus. High blood pressure can also aggravate bleeding, so you should seek immediate medical attention.
    • Temperature is also significant in determining whether infection is present. When an infection is present in the body, your body raises its internal temperature, as this helps your immune system to fight off the infection.
    • Check your temperature every four hours following spotting. In adults, an oral temperature above 100.4 degrees F (38 degrees C) is considered a fever.
  4. 4
    Consider the quantity of blood and the duration of the period. Even if your period arrives within the normal dates, a heavier than normal flow could indicate abnormal bleeding.
    • In general, a blood volume that requires the use of more than 6 heavy-flow pads or tampons per day is considered abnormal. In this case, the period may actually be masking the abnormal bleeding.
    • Additionally, if the volume of blood seems normal, but the duration of your period is much longer than usual, this could be a cause for concern.
  5. 5
    Get your blood clotting factor tested for possible deficiencies. Abnormal vaginal bleeding may be caused by a lack of platelets, a lack of proteins or a lack of calcium, all of which are used in the formation of blood clots.
    • Therefore, you should ask your doctor to take a blood sample and send it to the laboratory for testing. A deficiency in any of the above-mentioned blood components could be the cause of abnormal bleeding.
  6. 6
    Look for other unusual signs and symptoms. Note any other signs and symptoms that accompany the spotting/bleeding. It's normal to experience symptoms of menstruation such as headache, abdominal cramps and fatigue.
    • However, other symptoms such as extremely low or high blood pressure, fever, chills, fainting spells and extreme sharp pain in the hips or abdomen could be a sign of a more serious problem.
    • If you experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms in addition to vaginal spotting/bleeding, you should seek immediate medical attention.
  7. 7
    Do a pregnancy test. Find out if you are pregnant or not either with the help of a doctor or with the use of a home pregnancy test kit. Most women are not aware that they are already pregnant in the first 4 weeks.
    • If you are pregnant, vaginal spotting could be an early sign of miscarriage and you should call your doctor or go to the emergency room immediately.
  8. 8
    Examine the blood itself. Take a look at the blood spotting to see if it consists of real blood. Make sure it is not just discolored vaginal mucus/discharge, residue from reddish-colored urine/feces or an excreted medicinal stain.
    • Also ensure that you are certain about the source of the blood spotting. Anal bleeding could indicate a number of very different causes than vaginal bleeding.

Part Two of Two:
Identifying the Possible Causes

  1. 1
    Consider the possibility of miscarriage or abortion. If you are currently pregnant, or have recently had a miscarriage or abortion, this could be the cause of vaginal spotting. This is because the detachment of the baby from the womb can cause bleeding.
  2. 2
    Get tested for hormonal imbalances. A hormonal imbalance, especially an imbalance between estrogen and progesterone levels, could be a cause of vaginal spotting. This is because very low levels of estrogen or progesterone can signal the luteinizing hormone to trigger bleeding.
  3. 3
    Be aware than an intrauterine device could be causing the bleeding. The use of an intrauterine device for birth control may be causing the vaginal spotting, as it may have become dislocated and scraped the inside of the cervix or vagina.
  4. 4
    Think about whether you've had sex recently. Vaginal spotting or bleeding may occur after sexual contact due to lack of proper lubrication or the use of too much force. The thrusting motion during penetrative sex can cause friction and without lubrication, the male sex organ can damage the vaginal walls.
  5. 5
    Get checked out for uterine polyps or fibroids. Common in women who have had kids, these are growths in the womb that do not cause cancer. If you suspect that these growth might be causing vaginal spotting or bleeding, see your doctor for testing.
  6. 6
    Consider the possibility of infection or disease. Vaginal spotting or bleeding may be caused by a sexually-transmitted disease or may be due to a pelvic inflammatory disease. Other health conditions like endometriosis (when the womb's lining grows outside the uterus instead of inside it) can also be a cause of bleeding.
  7. 7
    Be prepared for the possibility of cancer. In the worst case scenario, abnormal vaginal spotting can be a symptom of cancer of the cervix, uterus (womb), ovaries or the vagina.

Community Q&A

Add New Question
  • I was masturbating two days my period ended, and when I looked down I saw bright red blood, is that normal?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Yes, it is normal for an orgasm to release some of the remaining blood. Nothing to worry about.
    Thanks! 3 1
  • I have taken a pregnancy test twice, and the results were negative, but I have symptoms of pregnancy. What do I do?
    Answered by Katie Arledge Rutan
    • It is unlikely you are pregnant, but you can always go to the doctor and they can run a blood pregnancy test. What kind of symptoms are you having? Missed periods can be caused from stress, weight loss/gain, or changes in medication/diet/hormones, etc. Get the test just to be sure.
    Thanks! 3 1
  • What if I have a spot for four days?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • You should go to a doctor to make sure there is nothing wrong and to get a better opinion.
    Thanks! 3 2
  • I am having brown discharge but no period, I was expecting my period. Is this normal?
    Answered by AbigailAbernathy, Top Answerer
    • It can be, it could be something else. If you are having brown discharge in lieu of your period and you have had sex within the last 2 - 3 weeks, you may be pregnant. If you are having brown discharge and are off your birth control pill for the week, wait it out.
    Thanks! 2 1
  • Can I take pills to stop heavy menstruation?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Yes, you can take vitamin C a couple of days prior to your menstruation and continue to take it during the heavy days. It constricts the blood vessels and lessens the flow.
    Thanks! 1 1
  • Is it normal to get your periods over every 3rd month?
  • I took morning pills twice in a week and now I havent had my period I have brown discharges. What can cause the discharges and can I be pregnant cause I havent seen my period yet
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