Description, Causes and Risk Factors:
Vaginal spotting is light bleeding from the vagina that occurs between menstrual cycles. Spotting may be a sign of a variety of conditions, but is often fairly harmless. Health experts often advise women who experience spotting to visit a Gynecologist or health care professional in order to rule out any potentially serious causes.
Spotting, unlike regular menstrual bleeding, is often very light and may only consist of a few drops of blood. The blood may appear different than menstrual blood, or be mixed with vaginal discharge. Dark brown or pale pink drops of blood are common when spotting. Spotting can be the result of an injury to the vagina, an underlying health condition, or either a natural or medically-induced hormonal shift.
There are many different causes of vaginal spotting. Even a normal hormonal shift, such as the one that occurs during ovulation, can occasionally cause light bleeding. Some women who use oral contraceptives or hormone-enhanced intra-uterine devices (IUDs) may experience vaginal spotting. Women going through menopause, those under high levels of stress, or women with irregularly low thyroid levels are subject to sudden and unusual hormone shifts that may also result in light bleeding.
Sometimes vaginal bleeding can be caused by more serious health problems, such as endometriosis, sexually transmitted diseases (STD), or even cervical or uterine cancer. While many cases of spotting are caused by minor problems that are easily fixed, the potential for more serious causes does exist.
Certain types of vaginal infections can also cause vaginal spotting in women. Bacterial vaginosis and vaginal yeast infections, which are both the result of bacterial imbalances in the vagina, can cause vaginal spotting. In the absence of treatment, these infections can spread from the vagina into the reproductive tract. If this occurs, a woman can develop pelvic inflammatory disease.
The patient may see blood on her underwear or bed clothes. She might find blood on toilet tissue after urinating. Her menstrual period may be exceptionally heavy.A possible complication from protracted vaginal spotting is iron deficiency anemia, which can develop insidiously. Eliminating the cause will resolve the anemia, although some women require iron supplements or blood transfusions to improve the anemia.
In order to diagnose your case, your doctor may start by checking for problems most common in your age group. First, your doctor will ask about your personal and family health history. Be prepared to discuss these issues:
Whether the discharge was light pink, brown or bright red.
Whether the flow was light, heavy or accompanied by clots or tissue.
Whether you experienced pain, dizziness, fever or chills.
Past or present illnesses.
Use of medications.
Use of birth control.
Weight, eating and exercise habits, and level of stress.
Your menstrual cycle.
Also be prepared for a physical exam and perhaps some blood tests. These tests check your blood count and hormone levels to exclude blood diseases as possible causes for abnormal uterine bleeding. You also may have a test to see if you are pregnant. Based on your symptoms, other tests your doctor may order include:
Various pelvic exams.
Dilation and curettage (D&C).
You can help prepare for your appointment by keeping track of your menstrual cycle before your visit. Note the dates, length, and type of your bleeding on a calendar (light, medium, heavy, or spotting). This is called a Menstrual Flow Diary. Your notes can help your doctor target and better diagnose the problem.
Spotting is a normal occurrence and is best treated by letting it stop on its own. According to Brookside Associates, spotting will subside on its own without treatment. If spotting persists past two to three days, schedule an examination with your Obstetrician to rule out polyp growth or uterine problems if you are not currently using doctor-prescribed birth control methods.
Consult your physician regarding estrogen replacement therapy (ERT). According to Brookside Associates Medical Education Services, use of low-dose birth control pills or hormonal fluctuations can cause spotting and light periods as estrogen levels decrease. Estrogen replacement will help regulate menstruation and stop spotting along with doctor supervision.
NOTE: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.
DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.
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