Bleeding between periods is known as spotting and can occur for a number of reasons. Often, spotting is nothing to worry about, but occasionally it can be an indication that something isn't quite right.

Today, Pink Parcel’s resident GP, Dr Louise Newson from Spire Parkway Hospital, tells us the NTK’s of spotting.

Spot the signs of spotting

A menstrual cycle usually occurs every 28 days – but can be longer or shorter too. Any bleeding outside the beginning or the end of your period can be considered as spotting and the flow doesn’t usually look the same as your period. “Depending on the cause, the blood is usually darker red, brown or light pink and a far lighter flow than a period, sometimes it’s only noticed when wiping yourself after going to the toilet. It usually does not last very long either.”

The need-to-know causes

There are many different causes of bleeding between periods says Louise – some serious, some not so serious, which is why it’s always sensible to get checked out. “The most common causes are sexually transmitted infections, cervical polyps, starting, changing or stopping your contraceptive – this might be a pill, injection or implant and spotting occurs as your body adapts to the hormonal changes. More uncommonly it can be due to cancer of the cervix or womb,” she explains.

All about ovulation

“Some women notice a very small amount of bleeding halfway through their cycle which can be due to ovulation. Other women notice a change in vaginal discharge or a lower abdominal (tummy) pain around this time,” says Louise. Ovulation – when you release an egg from your ovary – occurs roughly on day 14 of a 28-day menstrual cycle, but you can ovulate earlier or later depending on the length of your cycle.

Bleeding after sex? Is that a worry?

Louise says that the causes of bleeding after sexual intercourse can be similar to those causes of bleeding in between your periods. "It can sometimes be caused by vaginal dryness, however, bleeding after sexual intercourse is not usually due to ovulation or contraception and for around half of women, no cause can actually be found. If you have experienced any bleeding either between your periods or after sexual intercourse then you should see your doctor. It is really important that your doctor excludes more serious causes of the bleeding,” she advises.