Vaginal bleeding or spotting that’s outside of normal period bleeding can be a cause for concern. Happily, most often it’s due to simple issues that are fairly easily treated. When women first begin having periods and their ovaries are new to the job, periods are often irregular until the body adjusts to the influx of hormones from the ovaries. However, when a young woman has bleeding outside of her regular periods, or bleeding becomes much heavier and lasts longer while she’s still getting regular periods, we have to consider a range of possible causes.
Hormonal fluctuations or estrogen and progesterone imbalances can cause irregular bleeding, especially when starting or stopping oral contraceptives. Since oral contraceptives effectively shut down the ovaries, after stopping the pill, it simply takes the ovaries a while to adjust to making hormones again. After stopping the pill, periods should normalize after one or two cycles. Uterine fibroids or cervical polyps can also cause irregular and heavy bleeding, but require a trip to the gynecologist to diagnose.
Thyroid issues can also cause irregular or heavy bleeding. It’s most commonly associated with being hypothyroid (low) although it’s possible to have an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroid) and experience the same irregularities. Approximately one in five women will develop some form of thyroid disease in their lifetime (usually hypothyroid), and the risk for increases with age and a family history of thyroid problems. With thyroid issues, you’d be experiencing a range of other symptoms like fatigue or insomnia, depression or anxiety, unexplained weight gain or loss, constipation, intolerance to cold, hair loss, and low libido. There are also some STDs that can cause irregular bleeding, like chlamydia, gonorrhea and pelvic inflammatory disease. Being overweight also increases the risk of irregular or breakthrough bleeding, so maintaining a healthy weight is important. To determine the cause, it’s best to see your gynecologist for a full check-up.
If you’re suffering similar symptoms, we can help. Call 480.619.4097 and ask for an appointment with Dr. Jennifer Iacovelli, our OB/GYN, or another member of Team DeRosa.